By Thuletho Zwane and Ray Mahlaka
SOME Zimbabwean students said Morgan Tsvangarai’s MDC “slept” during the run up to the 2013 elections.
Two Witsies and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters said the party had become complacent and failed to strategise. They said the MDC did not campaign enough and the party lacked the capacity to carry our proper research.
“MDC has been sleeping in the GNU [Government of National Unity]. MDC gave the impression that they were going to win, while Zanu (sic) was working hard,” said media studies PhD candidate Shepherd Mpofu.
Questionable MDC leadership
Mpofu said Africa’s political leaders are trapped in a state of consumption. He said the MDC enjoyed the “trappings of leadership and Zanu-PF used the moment in office to campaign”. He said Zanu-PF gave people land but the MDC didn’t do anything to help the people but were fighting among one another.
Languages professor Robert Muponde said the MDC controlled every aspect of Harare: “They wanted to clean Harare and were charging the locals high rates. Instead of understanding the constraints people had in terms of poverty, they started to switch off their lights.”
Political campaigning strategy
Wits PhD candidate and MDC supporter Crispen Chinguno said he voted for the MDC because he was voting for change but said they were “naïve, complacent, over-confident and were caught off-guard”.
Chinguno said the MDC contradicted its founding principles: [pullquote]“They are supposed to be a workers’ party but seem more neo-liberal. The trade unions aren’t comfortable with the current MDC.”[/pullquote] He said Zanu-PF outsmarted MDC because the party used social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to appeal to the youth market.
Mpofu said: “Zanu-PF hired a British PR [public relations] agency that helped change their image.” However, Mpofu said the election process was flawed.
He said: “The voters’ roll was not released on time and 99% of Zimbabweans are educated, why did they need assistance with voting?”
Muponde said he was “angry and disappointed” about the MDC’s complacency and the months leading to the elections. “There were irregularities, blatant theft and rigging,” he said.
Irregularities in the elections
Muponde said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations (UN) knew about the irregularities but said the election was not violent.
[pullquote align=”right”]“These are double standards. The Zim elections are known to be bloody and lead to dislocations. So because there was no blood, both people housing the elections [the UN and SADC] say it was peaceful. They don’t look at the unfair practices,”[/pullquote] said Muponde.
He said the MDC thought they were the “darling of the people” and forgot “people politics”.
Mpofu said the group that started the MDC is going to start another party.
“I suspect some of the founders of MDC have become disillusioned and despondent. They might fund the new party,” Mpofu told Wits Vuvuzela.
Elections poser for Zimbabwe students, July 26, 2013
Thuletho Zwane @thulethozwane
Ray Mahlaka @Karabo_Mahlaka
A CHOICE TO MAKE: Zimababweans go to the polls on Wednesday Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
A LARGE number of Zimbabwe-born Witsies will not be able to cast their votes in what is supposed to be a watershed election for the country next Wednesday.
The July 31 ballot takes place only two weeks into the current university term. Many Witsies say they cannot, financially and academically, afford to travel back to their home towns and exercise their right to vote.
Zimbabwean citizens living and working in South Africa will not be able to cast their votes at the Zimbabwean embassy either, as many had hoped.
This comes after Zimbabwean Electoral Commission failed to put in place organisational measures necessary to allow Zimbabweans living South Africa to vote.
Logistics, however, are not the only reason Witsies born in Zimbabwe said they would not be voting.
Third-year BA Law, Politics and International Relations student Tapiwa Gozhore said he hadn’t registered to vote because he did not see a reason to vote.
“I believe there is no choice in the Zimbabwe elections,” Gozhore said.
A Bulawayo-born student, who did not want to give her name, said she was a registered voter but would not be crossing the border to cast her vote.
“In the last one [elections] even though I voted the results were already there, so I think it is a waste of time and money when there’s already a winner,” she said.
In Previous Times
Last month, President Robert Mugabe proclaimed the July 31 election date, citing Zimbabwe’s constitution requirement to push for elections within 30 days.
Opposition parties, mainly the Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T), as well as the Southern African Development Community, pleaded for a 14 day extension to prepare for the vote, but this was rejected by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.
Tsvangirai told the New African magazine: “President Robert Mugabe has proceeded to pass unlawful decree enacting on his own amendments to the Electoral Act.”
Bulawayo-born Langa Moyo, Masters Engineering, told Wits Vvuvzela that he had also not registered to vote.
“The time frame wasn’t good enough for me. It [registration] was a rushed thing. You know the opposition and everyone was trying to extend the dates, and the ZANU-PF guys were trying to make sure elections come as early as possible. Everyone was confused about whether to go to Zim now, or should I go later to register.”
Witsie Cassian Mavhaire said he had no plans of returning to Zimababwe because there were no opportunities for graduates in the country.
Mavhaire said Mugabe was the bad guy and MDC-T were the good guys.
“The best situation is for the unity government to be in place rather than for us to have a one-party government,” he said.
Gozhore said he did not see a reason for elections at all in Zimbabwe. He said people were supporting opposition parties only because they despised ZANU-PF.
“For me that’s not a democratic country…People should vote based on choice, so that I vote for MDC because I don’t like ZANU-PF, but I vote for MDC because they have policies that will develop our country for the next 30 years.”