The Whimsical Beauty of Democracy Falters Against Military Machismo


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Wisdom Mumera

Prior to the Zimbabwe Defence Force operation that has cornered President Mugabe in a bid to have him resign, elections were dominating the news. However in the space of a few days they have been relegated to the nether ends of attention.

In a supposed democratic nation its a staggering scenario considering that what has stolen their thunder is the very antithesis of elections, a military hijacking of power.

If one is to read the scenes in a literal manner the pictures from Saturday were a celebration of a very undemocratic manoeuvre that threw democratic principles into the dustbin and from there drew out an archaic practice that has decimated most of West Africa over the past decades.

We may hate him but Mugabe still has a modicum of legitimacy and hold in the office as compared to the thin foundation upon which the ZDF scheme is based upon. That’s why in the aftermath of the operation it has remained a totem-less act, without name and a face.

Its a strange creation of decade-old fears, frustrations, factions and the thin palate of true humanity to change Zimbabwe.

Back to the elections, the country has simply forgotten the essence of democracy in the rapid urge to dislodge the man who has come to embody and personify their 37 years of poverty and failure.

Faced against that passion democracy has found no place and pure unadulterated brute force has won the day.

On Saturday many ran in the streets waving placards with General Chiwenga’s image, hailing him as a saviour. Patrolling soldiers had a field day being taken photos whilst some even clambered aboard their vehicles.

The significance of their actions certainly got lost in the excitement of the moment but a few days down the line, especially after Mugabe resigns and the nation returns to electioneering, truth shall be hard hitting.

Suddenly the nation, especially the populous urban opposition supporters shall quickly find themselves in opposite trenches with very same soldiers they took selfies with.

This calls for caution in our acceptance and celebration of military leadership and involvement in these political battles.

2008 is still fresh to be a veritable case study of how the military can be a fundamental instrument of repression and its lamentable that the toppling of Mugabe has made the whole nation heady.

Even institutions involved in election related issues are sounding tired and not-so-eager for elections, crafting hiccups that defer elections to dates beyond normalcy.

Addressing the media on Monday Chairman of Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) Andrew Makoni stated that registration rates have dropped as the country grapples with the stalemate of the Zimbabwe Defence Force led push for President Mugabe’s resignation.

“Over the last 4 days the rate of people registering to vote has gone down over the uncertainty created by the current impasse. This brings us to the issue of the environment in which elections are supposed to be done.

“We cant proceed when the environment is not conducive. The longer this plays out, the more it will become a concern”, he said.

Tawanda Chimhini from the ERC concurred with Makoni and added that there are fundamental areas that need to be dealt with to create a pathway for credible elections..

“First the laws governing elections should be properly aligned to the constitution, and secondly there should be a conducive environment allowing citizens to make free choices.

“A complete and accurate voter’s roll is also key for credible elections and the revitalisation of the electoral governance institutions”, he said.

The list of demands, to be given to a revived and unrepentant ZANU PF, are very much along the lines of the list MDC-T has been calling for under NERA. How the Civil Society Organisations expect a sudden repentance from the headstrong Zanu is very much a case of the boisterous spirit of Saturday infecting their logic with a false sense of brotherhood.

Zimbabwe is in a delicate moment where there is a danger of getting carried away by the machismo of the military but attention still has to be paid to the fundamentals that define our state.

The sooner we return to those basic tenets of democracy the better the future looks.