THE agenda has already been set. Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Emmerson Mnamngagwa is winning the coming 2023 elections. But they have already been discredited because he is going to win through violence, corruption and rigging.
Though the date for the elections has not been announced yet, two United States think tanks published reports, a week apart, both saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa is winning the elections, likely to be held at the end of July but before 26 August.
The Robert Lansing Institute gave three scenarios.
It says the most likely scenario is that ZANU-PF will win the elections with relatively as little controversy and dispute as possible.
“In this scenario, polling figures (both from polling stations and constituencies, V11 and V23) tally as perfectly as possible with those announced by the national command center – and, hopefully limit any rigging allegations,” it says.
“In this way, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU-PF party hope for acceptance and legitimacy by the local, but especially international community – as he seeks to be recognized as truly and democratically elected leader.
“The flagship of his administration is the ‘engagement and re-engagement policy’ – which Mnangagwa is pinning his hopes on for the removal of targeted sanctions and the pariah state tag. This is what Mnangagwa hopes for.”
The second scenario is that there is flagrant rigging of elections. Results announced by the electoral commission after the 2023 elections are doctored and far different from those at the polling stations (V11) and constituencies (V23).
“This has happened before in 2008 and 2018,” the Institute says.
But in both cases the opposition could not provide any proof.
In 2008, for example, a vote tallying centre sponsored by Zimbabwe’s richest man Strive Masiyiwa and manned by US experts failed to come up with plausible results of rigging.
According to Wikileaks, “the MDC’s American adviser Kathi Walters told United States embassy officials in Pretoria that the MDC centre had about 80 percent of the votes captured, so it could not say party leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won definitively without having 100 percent of the votes unless Tsvangirai’s numbers were higher.”
In 2018 Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa challenged the election results at the Constitutional Court and lost. He failed to produce the V11s though he had claimed to have them.
The Institute says under the second scenario, “as much as ZANU-PF would want to avoid this, the risk is far more acceptable for the party than losing power.”
It says the third, but most unlikely scenario, is that Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa wins the elections and is announced the winner.
“This scenario is unlikely to happen, considering that ZEC’s impartiality is already questionable,” it says.
Stratfor, a commercial intelligence company, says corruption, violence and election interference will likely help Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa secure another term, likely worsening the country’s economic malaise through continued financial mismanagement, corruption in the mining sector and lack of access to external credit.
It says, however, that the CCC party’s recent political gains have renewed optimism that charisma can win the presidency, but Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU-PF party will likely effectively suppress the opposition by using violence, intimidation, corruption and patronage networks.
“The CCC won 19 out of the 28 seats on the ballot in parliamentary by-elections held in February, reviving hope that Chamisa could have sufficient support to oust Mnangagwa in the coming election,” it said.
It did not, however, point out, like the Lansing report did, that CCC previously held 21 of the 28 seats and thus lost two seats to ZANU-PF.
Incidentally Stratfor said way back in 2015 that Mnangagwa was already running the country.
“Whether we like it or not Emerson Mnangagwa has much more acumen, presence and money to be more effective than Tsvangerai(sic) and he also has much larger support from the British Intelligence Community that has close ties with big business interests,” it said.
The Robert Lansing Institute Report
Scenarios: Mnangagwa likely to save presidency amid risks of violence in Zimbabwe after elections
January 17, 2023
Zimbabwe’s 2023 Elections are highly likely to be followed by bloodbath, with government party pressing on opposition and ZANU-PF stepping aside from democracy standards.
The President Emmerson Mnangagwa will likely win Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections, but it’ll cause security and political crisis in the state, so as rising foreign influence there.
Zimbabwe’s main political parties have started preparing for the country’s general elections in 2023 as they hold rallies and campaign activities in cities and towns to whip up their support bases.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to announce the exact date for the vote, but it has revealed that it would be held in either July or August 2023. After last elections took place on July 31, 2018.
The main political parties for the 2023 elections remain the Zanu-PF, which has been in power since independence in 1980, and the opposition Citizens Coalition For Change (CCC), formed early this year and led by Nelson Chamisa.
Some institutions, like The British parliament, for example, expressed concern over the lack of signs that Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections would be credible, saying there was a shortage of meaningful political, economic, and human rights reforms.
In its latest report, the Zimbabwe Human Rights non-governmental organisation (ZHRNGO Forum) revealed that violence was once again showing its ugly head, as protagonists employ dirty tactics to gain both political and electoral advantage. A total of 1,901 politically motivated cases have been recorded so far, as calls for solutions to the deepening polarisation and political intolerance escalate ahead of the 2023 general elections.
However, the country is already in election mode and merely waiting for presidential proclamation of official dates.
The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has ramped up its campaign. The political and electoral playing field remains deeply uneven and stacked in favour of the ruling party.
ZANU-PF’s campaign is a mix of state events and party activities, with the national broadcaster doing the party’s bidding. Meanwhile, Nelson Chamisa’s political opposition, Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) – which put up a spirited performance during the recent by-elections – is trying to establish itself while simultaneously preparing for the 2023 polls.
An analysis of the political terrain after the by-elections shows that ZANU-PF’s position as the ruling party is safe so far.
The CCC’s performance was impressive. It showed political prowess to turn the tide in the by-elections, winning 19 of the 28 seats up for grabs. However, its candidates were previous holders of 21 of 28 seats. In effect, the party managed to return 19 seats and lost two.
The public broadcaster continues to be partial to the ruling party, which enjoys unlimited coverage in the public print, radio and television stations. This matters because internet penetration and mobile data coverage are low in Zimbabwe, making the public broadcaster the main source of information with the widest audience.
Opposition parties cannot afford to base their electoral position on political posturing – they need solid groundwork. A comprehensive strategy should look at the overall political environment and honestly assess the opposition’s chances of unseating the ruling party. Carefully articulated messages and localised campaigns are needed to make inroads in ZANU-PF power bases.
Recent brutal attack on Zimbabwe opposition supporters was clearly intended to harass and intimidate them ahead of elections expected later this year. Ruling-party youth beat and kicked older supporters of the Citizens Coalition for Change (Triple C). The video, which has gone viral on social media, showed some elderly members of the Triple C being assaulted over the weekend in Murehwa about 100 kilometers east of Harare.
Fadzayi Mahere, Triple C spokeswoman, has accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of masterminding the violence and blamed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the police for failing to stop it.
There is no doubt that many young people have lost interest and confidence in elections as a mechanism for political change and find it meaningless to vote because almost all of the elections are invariably characterised by violence and allegations of electoral fraud.
The ruling party uses food and land distribution to win votes (mostly in rural areas), on the other hand, the opposition banks on popular anger and disillusionment rather than on its mobilisation prowess.
ZANU PF has three scenarios for the 2023 elections:
The most likely scenario: ZANU PF will win the elections with relatively as little controversy and dispute as possible.
In this scenario, polling figures (both from polling stations and constituencies, V11 and V23) tally as perfectly as possible with those announced by the national command center – and, hopefully limit any rigging allegations. In this way, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU PF party hope for acceptance and legitimacy by the local, but especially international community – as he seeks to be recognized as truly and democratically elected leader.
The flagship of his administration is the ‘engagement and re-engagement policy’ – which Mnangagwa is pinning his hopes on for the removal of targeted sanctions and the pariah state tag. This is what Mnangagwa hopes for.
However, there is a huge hurdle – the ever-growing support and strength of the opposition CCC party.
Mnangagwa would want to weaken the opposition before the 2023 elections.
In order, to achieve this goal he has tried, and continues to try, so many sinister plots – including exploiting internal power struggles witnessed following the death of then MDC-T leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (leading to people as Thokozani Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora being Mnangagwa’s running dogs), abuse of state institutions (courts, ZEC, law enforcement), persecution of senior CCC officials and violence onslaught on supporters, and now buying opposition MPs loyalty via the notorious US$40,000 loans.
However, Mnangagwa is busy with his vote buying in rural areas – through the partisan distribution of government taxpayer-funded assistance.
So ZANU PF hopes to win, in a relatively acceptable manner.
Less likely scenario: Flagrant rigging of elections. Results announced by the electoral commission after the 2023 elections are doctored and far different from those at the polling stations (V11) and constituencies (V23). This has happened before in 2008 and 2018.
In this regard, as much as ZANU PF would want to avoid this, the risk is far more acceptable for the party than losing power.
The main riskis conducting another disputed election – which will not be accepted by both the opposition and the international community – leading to Mnangagwa’s continued questioned legitimacy, and targeted sanctions remaining.
That is a risk President’s party is willing to take, as the consequences of relinquishing power are too ghastly for the ruling elite to fathom – since there is just too much at stake, with the fear of facing the consequences of their corruption and brutal massacres, and prospects of life off the gravy train.
They would rather be perceived as a pariah regime that retained power by rigging elections – than the alternative.
The most unlikely scenario: ZEC will announce Nelson Chamisa and his CCC winners of the presidential elections.
This scenario is unlikely to happen, considering that ZEC’s impartiality is already questionable.
The Stratfor Worldvuew Report
What to Expect From Zimbabwe’s 2023 General Election
Jan 23, 2023
Corruption, violence and election interference will likely help Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa secure another term later this year, likely worsening the country’s economic malaise through continued financial mismanagement, corruption in the mining sector and lack of access to external credit. Mnangagwa, the leader of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), will run for reelection in mid-2023 against Nelson Chamisa, former parliamentary member and widely popular leader of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC or Triple C) party. The 2023 general election will be the second Zimbabwe has held since Mnangagwa took power from former authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe in a 2017 military coup.
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has not yet set an official date for the election, but has noted it will likely be held in July or August.
ZANU-PF has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, with a brief intermission from 2009 to 2013 when Mugabe signed a power-sharing arrangement with Morgan Tsvangirai, the late leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party (the predecessor of CCC).
Chamisa ran for president in 2018 under the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) banner. But after early results indicated Chamisa’s potential victory, Zimbabwe’s electoral commission delayed announcing the outcome and declared Mnangagwa as the winner, prompting thousands to protest in the capital of Harare. Security forces cracked down on the demonstrations with live fire and tear gas, killing at least six people and injuring many others. Chamisa disputed the election results, but the constitutional court threw out his challenge and ruled that Chamisa was not the legitimate leader of MDC lawmakers in parliament, causing him to form a new coalition under CCC.
The CCC party’s recent political gains have renewed optimism that Charisma can win the presidency, but Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU-PF party will likely effectively suppress the opposition by using violence, intimidation, corruption and patronage networks. The CCC won 19 out of the 28 seats on the ballot in parliamentary by-elections held in February, reviving hope that Chamisa could have sufficient support to oust Mnangagwa in the coming election. Six months ahead of polling, however, ZANU-PF suppression tactics are already having some success. In early January, a video circulating on social media showed a ZANU-PF youth group beating and kicking older supporters of CCC in the township of Murehwa (which is about 100 kilometers, or about 62 miles, east of Harare). President Mnangagwa has also faced repeated accusations of deploying ”Mashurugwi” machete gangs to terrorize mining communities, with the intent of suppressing support for the opposition by intimidating and/or coercing voters. In addition, small-scale or artisanal miners have reportedly received cash, property and mining licenses from the ZANU-PF in exchange for their votes and/or attendance at political rallies for the ruling party. ZANU-PF’s influence over the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) — along with the ZEC’s failure to implement electoral reforms proposed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ahead of the next ballot — further minimizes the potential of an opposition victory.
The ZEC is charged with managing fair and impartial elections. But, the commission is one of Zimbabwe’s least-trusted institutions, as it has been instrumental in certifying electoral results decried by civil society groups and opposition parties as fraudulent. This trend is set to persist, as three adult children of ZANU-PF stalwarts currently serve as election commissioners.
A non-profit called the Zimbabwe Peace Project set up an app for citizens to report cases of violence or intimidation ahead of the election, but the scale of incidents and high likelihood of reprisal attacks mean that most violent events will likely go unreported.
The ruling party’s attempts to suppress the opposition may trigger election-related unrest, but security forces would likely crack down on such protest activity and quickly restore public order. As in past elections, Zimbabweans fed up with voting irregularities, violence, corruption and patronage politics may take to the streets before and after the 2023 ballot to demand electoral impartiality or the release of unadulterated polling results. Many civil society groups have stated that the 2023 election will be the best chance yet to liberalize Zimbabwe’s political space in the face of growing suppression and political opposition. But this has also led to fears that more consolidated, organized resistance from opposition groups will trigger sustained unrest, with the Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe (a grouping of more than 80 Zimbabwean NGOs) warning that this year’s election could be the bloodiest in the country’s history. Widespread poverty — which has worsened in recent years amid Zimbabwe’s growing economic woes — will further increase the likelihood of such electoral unrest. Even so, protests drawing thousands of Zimbabweans are unlikely to prevent Mnangagwa from assuming a second term, as his powerful administration would almost certainly deploy security personnel and authorize them to use extreme force to dispel demonstrators.
High poverty is a long-standing and widespread problem in Zimbabwe, but it has been exacerbated in recent years by rising inflation, high unemployment and persistent food insecurity.
Continued corruption and mismanagement within ZANU-PF will likely worsen Zimbabwe’s economic crisis by further damaging the country’s relations with Western creditors and dampening demand for its crucial mining exports. A combination of hyperinflation, unsustainable debt levels, multiple exchange rates and high spending have kept Zimbabwe in debt default since 2000. ZANU-PF has pursued self-enrichment over economic development and is likely to continue to do so following the 2023 election. In November, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the government is engaging with the IMF on how to clear its nearly $10 billion in arrears. However, ZANU-PF is unlikely to implement the electoral, civil and economic policy reforms required by both the IMF and Western creditors to regain access to borrowing, as few members are willing to give up the financial and social benefits of patronage and corruption. This means that Zimbabwe will remain largely reliant on domestic revenue mobilization (in addition to borrowing from non-Paris Club members like China), but falling mining sector revenue will limit its success. Since taking power, the ZANU-PF has maintained the haphazard implementation of Zimbabwe’s outdated Mines and Minerals Act, which serves the personal interests of politicians who benefit from corrupt mining deals. This – in addition to insufficient electricity supply – has hurt the competitiveness of the country’s crucial mining sector (which accounts for 60% of its exports and about 20% of its GDP). Under the ZANU-PF’s continued leadership, the mining industry will likely remain plagued with political corruption — hampering both the production of and demand for its exports and, in turn, the government’s ability to use mining revenue to pull Zimbabwe out of its economic crisis.
Zimbabwe’s total public debt is approximately $11 billion (or 54% of GDP) of which 76% is external. Inflation averaged 213% in 2022 and the World Bank expects it to stay in triple digits in 2023.
Poor economic conditions in Zimbabwe will sustain poverty and migration flows into neighboring South Africa, further straining relations between the two countries. Improved rainfall and reduced fertilizer prices in 2023 may boost Zimbabwe’s agricultural production and increase employment rates in the farming sector, which employs about 66% of the country’s workforce. But many Zimbabweans will likely remain in poverty, with the country’s greater economic outlook poised to worsen under ZANU-PF’s continued leadership. South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has said that it will not oppose Mnangagwa’s pursuit of a second term, although individual members of both the ANC and opposition parties frequently point to their northern neighbor’s poor economic conditions as justification for nationalist, populist policies at home. Zimbabweans will likely continue to illegally cross the South African border in search of better employment and economic opportunities, which will further strain relations between Harare and Pretoria and exacerbate xenophobia in South Africa. The growing exodus of skilled workers will also worsen Zimbabwe’s brain drain problem, leaving its economy all the more dependent on subsistence agriculture.