Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front president Emmerson Mnangagwa is likely to win this year’s elections because the opposition is in disarray, Zimbabweans in the United States said at a panel discussion in Washington DC yesterday.
“Mnangagwa is likely to win because there is no strong opposition and there is so much confusion within the opposition parties such that Mnangagwa is the likely option for most people and is the one in power and they say that there is a lot of effort from Mnangagwa to change things. People are more receptive to that,” Linda Mujuru of the Global Press Journal told the panel according to the Voice of America.
The event was organised by the Global Press Institute and hosted by the Newseum in Washington DC.
Mujuru said that though one of the Movement for Democratic Change leaders Nelson Chamisa was attracting huge crowds at his rallies he may lose the elections because of his battle with Thokozani Khupe who now leads another faction.
“The thing is that with rallies there are people who are coming to see him talk about his political party and what he is promising people. But does that translate to a real vote and have those people registered to vote? That’s a question that needs to be answered and what we are seeing on the ground is that Mnangagwa is more organized and Chamisa has just come in after the death of Morgan Tsvangirai and we don’t know that the people that are coming will vote for him.”
Wadzanai Mhute of the New York Times said the disjointed opposition was giving Mnangagwa a win on a silver platter.
“What I am seeing on the ground like with how he is more organized and also looking at all ZANU-PF candidates have all been rolled out this week and all the primaries will be held this week and so we know who the candidates are and it looks like they know what they are doing whereas the MDC-T we don’t know who the candidates are and there seems to be infighting ..,” she said.
Charles Mutuma, executive director of the United States-based Zimbabwe Diaspora for Democracy, said the electoral environment was also tilted in favour of Mnangagwa.
“Based on the electoral environment and electoral mechanisms the situation and the environment is heavily tilted in favor of the incumbent. So, the opposition’s chances of winning are next to nothing if we do not address the unresolved issues of the government of national unity on the issue of security sector reforms, judiciary reforms and electoral reforms,” he said.
“We are heading towards a shameful election and once again a disputed election … My justification is Deputy Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi ruling out the diaspora vote. It means the election won’t be inclusive. It’s not honoring the rights of Zimbabweans to vote according to Section 67 of the Constitution and when we look at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission it’s not impartial.”
Ziyambi Ziyambi is Justice Minister.
British journalist Paul Kenyon, however, thought that the elections will be almost free and fair because Mnangagwa knows what is at stake.
“He knows that the world is watching. I think it will be subtle the manipulation but everyone I spoke to on the ground says ‘is it conceivable that Mnangagwa won’t win’ … No it’s not conceivable he will win part of that is because the opposition is in, it’s not a lot of time to organize. They don’t have the root there that they built up over generations, over decades where people have the, you know, they are not used to using opposition power, they are not used to exercising opposition power. They are not used to understanding how you go campaigning, putting those messages out there. All those things which are lost when you have an authoritarian regime of people like Mugabe…..
“I think the British will go to any country realistically saying ‘we are changing the way we behave we are becoming more democratic’. The British will go there and yes they will be looking for trade deals but they will also be interested in exercising some kind of diplomacy to make Zimbabwe come out of this a better place.”
Zimbabwe has not yet set the date for the elections but they should be held between 21 July and 21 August.
Ziyambi is still to table crucial Electoral amendments and Parliament is only resuming on 8 May.
Mnangagwa has, however, until 8 July to proclaim the elections constitutionally.
Parliamentary watchdog, Veritas, says he is most likely to announce the elections in June.
There are, however, two court cases, seeking to bar Mnangagwa from proclaiming the elections.
One has already been heard but judgment was reserved.
This was a case in which two opposition parties wanted Mnangagwa to be barred from announcing election dates until the Political Parties Finance Act has been amended to enable the government to fund all political parties.
Reports say there are now 124 registered political parties in the country.
Reports also say the funds for this year, amounting to $9 million, have already been disbursed.
In the other case, an opposition party argues that Mnangagwa cannot proclaim the elections because he is not legally the President of the country because he came to power through a coup.
The party argues that Zimbabwe currently has no president.