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Political Scientist Says Zanu PF Will Win 2023 Elections If Zimbabwe Does Not Implement Tangible Electoral Reforms

FILE: Zimbabwean election officials count ballot papers after the close of voting on a referendum in Harare, March 16, 2013.
FILE: Zimbabwean election officials count ballot papers after the close of voting on a referendum in Harare, March 16, 2013.

A Zimbabwean academic says Zanu PF will likely win the 2023 general elections if there are no tangible electoral reforms implemented by the government ahead of the crucial polls.

In a research paper presented at a workshop organized by the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, Dr. Norman Pinduka of the Africa University said the role played by the Zimbabwe Defence Force would also determine the outcome of the elections.

“While 2023 may appear to be a long way off, Zimbabwe is actively planning for the 2023 elections. Based on events since 2017, which have seen the military's active role in the political and economic affairs of Zimbabwe and ZANU PF deepen, the prospects for accomplishing the first true democratic transition in the 'post-colonial' period appear bleak.

“The results are likely to be unmistakable even in the run-up to the 2023 election - history repeating itself, unless otherwise. Given the unpredictability of Zimbabwe's political realities, the phrase unless otherwise is employed in this reading. It is hence reasonable to warn that such outcomes, as well as the scenarios mentioned here, can change dramatically over time.”

In the paper titled, ‘Chatting the future as we approach 2023 elections: Possible Socio-economic and political Scenarios’, Pinduka said the worst scenario, which is the most likely outcome, “will be history repeating itself.”

His research reads in part, “It is difficult to overlook the period into the 2008 run-off phase after the March 2008 Harmonized election results given that the Citizen for Coalition Change (CCC) secured 19 of the 28 contested parliamentary seats and 75 seats in 122 municipalities in the delayed March 26 2022 by-election which were conducted +/- 12 months before the 2023 election. The response of ZANU PF to such results in the worst scenario would be a repetition of history.”

He retorted that Zimbabwe’s pre-colonial history revolved around violence and pre-colonial state fights; the colonial era was infused with authoritarian rule which relied on violence and lethal violence permeated the armed liberation struggle.

“The history of ZANU PF particularly in the Mugabe era revolved around the use of violence to accomplish certain objectives which was intense during election time and targeting opposition members. In the worst scenario; history repeating itself, politically motivated violence targeting members of the CCC in the run up to the 2023 election can be the order of the day. It is critical to be cognizant of the fact that elections have always been more than just a contest of power in Zimbabwe; they have actually been a war by other means.

“Events that have transpired in Zimbabwe, including cases of politically motivated violence leading to the March 26 by-elections reveal that the country is still politically acculturated to the belief that any opposition to the ruling party has to be perceived as an enemy of the state. This has led to the binary characterization of enemies and patriots which is likely to trigger violence – enemies can only be dealt with in the language that they understand.”

According to Pambuka, the electoral violence will be levied by ZANU PF political actors to purposefully influence the process and outcome of the 2023 elections, and it will involve coercive acts against humans, property, and infrastructure.

“Despite the fact that electoral violence covers a range of different manifestations and outcomes, the coercive component will be central in the worst scenario in Zimbabwe. A historiographical overview of Zimbabwean elections suggests that harassment and intimidation are more common than lethal violence.

“The delay in the by-election provided important electoral data and a hint of what to expect in next year’s presidential poll. Based on the 26 March outcome and bearing in mind the historical culture of recorded state sponsored violence in Zimbabwe; in the scenario, the goal of the pre-election violence may generally include political exclusion.”

Zanu PF has embraced his views saying the party is going strong in most parts of the country. But the opposition says the research does not fully capture Zimbabweans' perceptions about the forthcoming general elections.