Are we heading for a repeat of 2005?


The scenarios are almost the same. In 2005 the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front went to the polls quite aware that there was a possibility it could lose following its near defeat in 2000. It is going to the 2013 polls quite aware that it lost the 2008 polls.

In 2005, the Movement for Democratic Change went to the polls half divided on whether to participate or boycott because the playing field was not level. It is going to the 2013 polls still divided because the government has not implemented the reforms necessary to have free and fair elections.

The MDC’s indecisiveness in 2005 cost it the elections. It won only 41 seats giving ZANU-PF a two-thirds majority. The party lost 16 seats in the process and the split that it had tried to cover up in the run-up to the elections came into the open and the party officially split.

There is no similarity in this aspect with 2013. The closest resemblance is that the “opposition” has been trying to form coalitions but apparently without success. Besides a deal reached now after the parties have already registered their candidates for the elections is bound to confuse the electorate even if some candidates withdraw.

Although polls have predicted a ZANU-PF victory, this has been centred more at the party winning through violence and rigging. No one has given the party victory through clean, free and fair elections simply because the electorate has changed its mind.

ZANU-PF is therefore going into the 2013 elections as the underdogs. No one expects it to win. So even if it loses, this should not be a surprise.

The case of the MDC is different. It won the 2008 elections, at least the first round.

What seems to have been totally forgotten, or is conveniently being ignored, is one of the key reasons why the MDC lost in 2005. It had lost the support of its key constituency, the labour movement.

Things seem to have gotten worse if Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo is to be believed.

Moyo told MDC-T leader in May that the party deviated from its pro-poor foundations, adding: “We have noted with concern that some policy pronouncements from party officials do reflect that. It’s important to come out in the open. Either you come from the left or from the right. There is no need to sit on the fence. If you are not clear, people will find it difficult to vote for you because they don’t know what will become of you once you are in government. Pronounce yourselves very clearly.”

He warned Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is also the party’s secretary general that it was the people that voted not investors, clearly indicating that workers’ interests came first.

“Let me be very clear Cde Tendai Biti, mind your language when you are in government because hausati wavakutonga. Ndizvo ka? Be very careful of what you say. You are destroying the party uchiti urikupliza ma investors. Vanhu vanovhota are the poor, not the investor. Mind your language Mr Biti. How do we defend an MDC minister? At least you dialogue with workers.”

And to Public Service Minister Lucia Matibenga, Moyo had this to say: “Mai Matibenga, kuma civil servants uko. Talk to those people. Please, please, please! You put us in a difficult and awkward situation to justify the close links that we have colleagues. Ndizvo ka?

Said at a meeting at which all the top leaders of the MDC-T, including party president Morgan Tsvangirai were present, this was too important a message to ignore.

One more thing is likely to work against the MDC- the economic climate. Like in 2005, the economic situation had greatly improved when the country held its elections in March.

Right now, the situation could not have been better. Inflation is only 2.2 percent. Goods are back on the shelves. Even international polls have indicated that Zimbabweans are happier than their counterparts in the wealthier neighbours- South Africa and Botswana.

The 2008 elections were not just about getting rid of ZANU-PF leader Robert Mugabe-because more people voted for his legislators than for him– but it was more a demand for people to have food in their stomachs.

The food is now there. So what will the 2013 vote be about?


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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