Some Zimbabweans for once, wish they were Kenyans
The events of the past week in Kenya where, an opposition leader, filed for the annulment of the results of the presidential elections will forever leave an indelible mark on the continent of Africa. Not only has the Kenyan Court’s judgement given hope to those who belong to Raila Odinga’s movement, but it has also changed the syllabus of doing politics on the continent, of which Zimbabweans are equal residents.
Kenya’s incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta had declared victory in the just ended polls but the opposition coalition smelt some anomalies in the way the whole polling process was conducted thereby raising a red flag and hurried their complaints to the highest court in the land. The court listened with both ears and awarded the complainant a second chance at the presidential attempt by annulling the votes and ordering a 60 day hiatus for a rerun of the same.
For many years Zimbabweans have suffered immensely at the incessant bullying by the ruling ZANU PF party both during pre and post-election times without a morsel of a fair hearing at all from both the SADC community or the national justice system. Zimbabwe’s own Morgan Tsvangirai who himself tried his hand three times and who three times was vanquished had all praises for the Kenyan example. “This is an unprecedented decision in the whole of Africa and I think it’s a good step towards democracy.”
Now the Kenyan example has come as an Achilles heel for the now lethargic politicians and the electorate alike. The fight between the opposition and the ruling party in Zimbabwe has been likened to a David and Goliath affair but this time where Goliath has been muscling his way past his minute opponent without due respect or scant regard of what surprises David might spring from his sling.
The ruling party cadres, has for many years, been acting as if they owe the people of Zimbabwe a living thereby they should be subservient to all their whims. However, notwithstanding the recent illustrious example that Kenya has set, Africa is begriming to carve a new niche in the political space and when Africans talk of a new democratic dispensation on the continent, there will always be a Kenyan example to lean back to.
Immediately after the announcement of the Kenyan court decision, the nation of Zimbabwe was in awe. That such a decision can be passed against a ruling party immediately after posting a victory in the elections? Morgan Tsvangirai and his ilk had for many years and on uncountable attempts tried to take ZANU PF to court after discovering errors in the affairs of the country but each time they lost the case or the will to do because of bureaucratic red tape. Prior to every election that Tsvangirai had taken part in, mobs from the elite party would make it hard for campaigning to take place for any opposition body. Even on the journey to electioneering rallies, many would be mangled, maimed and even made to disappear and never to be seen again.
Again and again, opposition figures, Morgan Tsvangirai included, would lodge a complaint with the courts citing an unfair playing field but again and again, they would be disappointed by the outcome of the courts. It has always been alleged that since officers of the courts were handpicked by the ruling party elite, there was no way they would usurp that allegiance and give ruling party opponents a fair hearing. Talking of knowing where your bread is buttered, or is it battered in the case of the opposition league.
After the Kenyan ruling, which for long will be a precedent as much as it is classic, Zimbabweans went into an unprecedented moment of comparing their perennially sorry showing at the courts, each time they felt beguiled to report maltreatment at the hands of ZANU after each stolen vote. And how the Kenyan opposition was able to break the jinx that Africa had believed would be remotely possible. The media ran away with classical examples in which Zimbabweans had to contend with a sham claim to victory by the party that has been in power since 1980, when it was crystal clear that the opposition had won the day. The last election results took weeks if not months to be released after it was learnt that the opposition had received a large number of votes from the plebiscite. Like a baby in a pram, opposition threw tantrums and rattled all the toys in protest but nothing came as a way of pampering for their deafening cries.
There have been many elections, even before the advent of MDC that were stolen without any recourse for the opposition party. It happened during Edgar Tekere’s Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) party, it also happened during Margarete Dongo’s opposition party and a lot more including the Dubutshena’s of Zimbabwe, but the channels were not favourable even in instances where even the blind could see the thief.
After Kenya, even the splintered opposition voices spoke as one of the need to have a Kenyan winning judge to come and give lessons on impartiality to their Zimbabwean counterparts. Tendayi Biti, commented on the Kenyan issue and wished that was happening on the land not outside the borders of Zimbabwe. Many people, the world over, had given Odinga no chance at all. Knowing fully well how the legal terrain has been littered with obscure verdicts when it comes to cases involving ruling parties. Very few countries ever show impartiality in such cases. Interestingly, many leaders, both corrupt and otherwise had started penning messages of congratulation to the Kenyatta president Uhuru even when it was clear the daggers were still out, because they knew how biased African courts were. Even the once vanquished burley Tsvangirai oozed out a few comments of solidarity with the losing Odinga’s recent political clout. He has suddenly become a beacon in his own right this Odinga man. Kudos too are due to his squeaky clean legal team that left the Uhuru legal bench looking like interns in a court of law.
However, it would be foolhardy for the Zimbabwean ruling party comrades to wish for the winds of change that swept through Kenya recently to pass through that country. No high Court judge there would want to lose his or her farm for giving a recount after a disputed election in favour of an opposition outfit, no matter who they are. With Kenya on the radar now, those who practice rigging during election time will have to go back to the drawing board to hone their crafts anew. A new dawn has definitely set on Africa’s horizons and whether Raila Odinga loses again, that will not matter much. What matters is that he has shown that what has been seen as impossible, has been made possible without having to resort to fisticuffs, but through the decision of a hooded men of the law.
On another high ranking tale that is still setting the tongues wagging in Zimbabwe, it seems the case of the bullying First lady will take long to go away. This is after even the South African president Jacob Zuma washed his has in as far as subscribing diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe. Zuma was grilled during a caucus meeting to append his role in letting lose his friend’s wife from the pangs of the law in his native country, but he said he was neither on the bench of decision makers on the issue and nor was he a legal fundi to give learned advice. And according to Tsvangirai, “If it can happen in Kenya it can also happen in Zimbabwe.”
While all this has been happening, a crowd of politically connected women from in and around SA where baying for the return of the walloping first lady who had unsurprisingly galloped away. All this amid the confusion over her immunity arising from a case in which she is accused of using an electric extension cord to mete out street justice to a South African lady and her friends who were found to be too cozy in the company of the First sons.
The case has drawn a lot of mixed feelings amongst those who support her and those who find fault with her actions. As if that wasn’t a circus enough, a misinformed members of the ruling elite, most of them women and youths, took to the streets in solidarity with Amai, as the First lady if affectionately called in ZANU PF parlance. In real life there are three or four seasons, depending on where you are on the global map. However, in one place and country, there is the fifth season, that season is the SILLY SEASON, and it is being felt right now in Zimbabwe
John Churu is a Journalist and Social Commentator