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Waiting for Godot in Zimbabwe

Jan 27, 2012 Written by  Golden Maunganidze, Guest Contributor
MugabeAn honest assessment of the Zimbabwean political situation - the numerous calls for elections by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and its shameless diehard supporters - reminds people of the great French play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters wait all but in vain for someone named Godot to arrive. The funniest part of the play comes when it appears that both Vladimir and Estragon claim Godot is an acquaintance, but in fact they hardly know him and they would not even recognize him were they to see him. Despite all the differences in pronunciations or accents, the fact that Godot did not arrive remains true.

Just like the two characters in the play who wait for someone they cannot recognize, President Mugabe of the former liberation party and Zimbabwean Prime Minister and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Morgan Tsvangirai have unconsciously taken similar roles of Vladimir and Estragon when it comes to determine the time when Zimbabwe will hold the next elections.

On March 4, 2010, President Mugabe organized a press reception at Zimbabwe House in Harare where he discussed topical issues with top editors from all over the country. It was during that meeting when President Mugabe promised the nation that Zimbabwe was inevitably going to have elections by 2010. From that day, prospective legislators including some amateur politicians who believe in violence against innocent voters started to campaign.

It was yet another episode which witnessed parliamentary vehicles negotiating their ways through bumpy dusty roads going back to their constituencies where they also had to convince villagers that they needed some more time to finish the construction of various projects.

However, nothing closer to an election happened the whole year. Zimbabweans needed a constitution first. After the December 2010 Zanu PF annual conference, the revolutionary party again started to spread the gospel of 2011 elections. The people again were put in the election mood as they believed that elections were actually going to be held. However, twelve months passed away and again nothing happened. In fact, the constitution itself is not yet done and yet the MDC-T’s position is that the new constitution is a pre-requisite of elections in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is currently under the inclusive government after there was no ultimate winner in 2008 elections, but if there was no Inclusive government, a normal term for President Mugabe would end in 2013. Rather, the country has been led to believe that elections will be held in 2012. In the country’s biggest Sunday paper, the state-run Sunday Mail of January 8 – 14, 2012, Zanu PF’s prodigal son and confirmed political flip-flopper Professor Jonathan Moyo shamelessly called for elections this year.

The current situation in Zimbabwe dictates that it is not practical to call for elections anytime soon, but President Mugabe and war veterans are calling for the polls with or without the new constitution. It seems Mugabe is either quick to forget that they agreed to go for elections after the new constitution. In fact, Mugabe’s call for elections in 2010, 2011 and now 2012 has only acted to confuse the people and further frustrate the masses as they just live in fear of potential violent election.

The country’s most radical teachers’ union, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou rubbished the call for elections, saying instead of directing the efforts to numerous calls for elections, the political leaders should join hands and eradicate the plight of workers.

“We don’t want to hear about elections now because we know that coming of elections means that our members are going to be severely victimized. Teachers were being beaten for allegedly supporting opposition political parties in the last election and nothing has improved. We just don’t want elections now,” said Zhou. Zhou said the nearest date when the country would be ready for elections might be sometime after 2013.

The most radical opposition party leader MDC-T president Job Sikhala is saying Zimbabwe will only be ready for elections after Mugabe is removed from power.

“We are saying Mugabe has been cheating for a long time now, hence he must be removed from power before we go for elections. If it means to employ any means to remove Mugabe, then we have to do it and make sure that he is out of the equation; then after that we can start talking about elections,” said Sikhala.

Besides waiting for elections, Zimbabwe is also supposed to carry out the census and the referenda – both programs can chew a lot from the national budget. It might not be practical to think of the general elections again. Thus up to this day, Zimbabweans are just confused, they do not even know when to expect elections. No one really knows.

The living standards for an ordinary Zimbabwean is not improving and yet politicians are only battling for their survival. The calls for elections keeps people in perpetual fear of violence normally associated with general elections in the country – at the same time, if elections are not coming soon, then Zimbabwe might be waiting for Godot in this regard.

Tagged under Zimbabwe    Mugabe    elections    politics   
Last modified on Friday, 27 January 2012 09:48


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