Are Zimbabweans and the political parties ready for an election this year amid the myriad of events unfolding in the political parties? The answer to that question is a simple NO. But if an election is thrust on people like now, will they not vote, and vote in a particular pattern. Is the environment currently prevailing in the country conducive to the holding of a free and fair election? The following are possible benchmarks for a free and fair elections , the matrix of the matter is that the instituting legislative reforms, including the repeal of the Public Order and Security Act to allow for free political activity by all political parties in a free and independent media environment. Also included is the robust monitoring and observation of the elections by local, regional and international groups with unfettered access to all parts of the country and other reforms. With former President Robert Mugabe and the late Morgan Tsvangirayi out of the election race, and the race is now interestingly between ZANU PF and current President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa and the hotly contested candidate from MDC T Nelson Chamisa. President Mnangagwa is still to make his presence felt in rural Zimbabwe, where most voters especially the aged, had only known Mugabe as their election candidate for the past three decades. On the other hand Chamisa is little known, let alone in rural Zimbabwe, where he is still to make an impact. With the succession wars in MDC T getting bloody after Nelson Chamisa elevation to Presidency of MDC T and sole Presidential candidate for 2018 election billed for July and August, the electorate is still confused on the two presidential candidatures as they have to gain trust from the voters. Is Chamisa or Mnangagwa ready for elections? The timing and the calibre of the candidate will impact greatly on how people will cast their votes this coming election. All in all the President of Zimbabwe has made some significant steps toward a free and fair elections as he has promised that all those who want to observe the coming elections are free to do so. He has made it clear that free and fair elections are to be held in Zimbabwe. He has promised some reforms to buttress his clarion call for credible elections. The new leader has reiterated that free and fair elections will be held in Zimbabwe, a trajectory that will see the country gain international credibility. Elections in Zimbabwe will trigger a domino of electoral processes that are due to take place in the region for the next two years.
“ President Mnangagwa is talking about holding free, fair and credible elections, which is a positive sign towards democratisation of the elections in Zimbabwe, but can he be trusted after all these years as a blue eyed boy of the former President Robert Mugabe? Can ZANU PF be trusted after decades of using Public media as its mouthpiece, and give other political parties a voice in the crunch elections. How genuine is ZANU PF in advocating for a free, fair and credible election? Can the Party afford to get out of power through the ballot box when it boasts of winning power through the bullet? It is quite intriguing to note that ZANU PF is advocating for reforms before reforming itself in order to move with the rest of the world in democratisation elections with total glasnost”, said a lawyer in Kwekwe.
If properly managed the coming elections in Zimbabwe will catapult the country to another stage of democratic milk and honey. If not, Zimbabwe will remain a democratic political infant should the opposite happen. Also free, fair and credible elections cannot be held in an atmosphere where media freedom and exercise of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe is muzzled. At the moment after three decades of ZANU PF rule, Zimbabweans continue to be choked with partisan propaganda churned by the sole public broadcaster ZBC. Zimbabwe still has one state owned television station, which spews ZANU PF propaganda. Community radios have not yet been licensed. It therefore goes without saying that media freedom, freedom of expression and access of information remains heavily compromised in Zimbabwe and a free, fair and credible election remains a pipe dream that will continue to elude Zimbabweans and enjoyed by some countries in Southern Africa.