Thursday, June 27, 2013

(STICKY) (ALLAFRICA, THE HERALD ZW) Zimbabwe: EU Dumps Tsvangirai
By Caesar Zvayi, 26 June 2013

THE European Union should not pre-occupy itself with who is in power in Zimbabwe, but concentrate on improving the country's political culture and institutions as support for the MDC-T has waned over the years. The revelations, a virtual vote of no confidence in MDC-T's electoral chances, are contained in an EU Parliament policy document titled "Quick Policy Insight Zimbabwe's 2013 General Elections" that was published on May 28 ahead of the Constitutional Court ruling ordering elections by July 31.

"Government turnover does not guarantee democratic change in Zimbabwe. Zanu-PF lacks democratic roots; but the MDC has, for its part, done little to prove its trustworthiness. Rather than asking who is in power, international analysts might want to put a stronger focus on how to actually improve Zimbabwe's political culture and institutions," reads the document in part.

The EU's Damascene moment, that tallied with several recent surveys pointing to a Zanu-PF victory in the elections, dovetailed with recent statements by senior MDC-T officials who admitted that the majority of Zimbabweans had lost faith in MDC-T because of the party's failure to live up to its rhetoric.

Ex-journalist and MDC-T founding member Grace Kwinjeh laid into the party on her Facebook Wall after being elbowed out of the Makoni Central constituency primary elections which she claimed to have won before being dumped for one Patrick Sagandira.

"The bulk of Zimbabweans who have lost faith in us as a party have because of this kind of behaviour (failing to walk the talk), they judge us not by what we say, but we do. I hope you can bring this to the attention of the party leadership . . . for the record I am not accepting the charade that took place in Makoni Central," she charged.

In a telephone interview from her base in Belgium last night, Kwinjeh confirmed writing to the MDC-T leadership complaining over lack of intra-party democracy.

"I have presented my petition and I'm told the party is sitting and discussing this issue," she said. "So, I am waiting for the party's response."

MDC-T Manicaland provincial chairman Mr Julius Magaramombe, who won the party's primaries in Buhera North, also posted on his Facebook Wall his fear for his life after warning the MDC-T leadership not to be surprised if supporters voted for Zanu-PF.

"A Democratic Party without democracy will pay the ultimate price at the hands of the people . . . folks, I've just discovered that speaking the truth can get you killed, literally. And you know what? I'm ready to die!" he said.

MDC-T, the EU said, had tried to capitalise on public discontent, presenting itself as an alternative to an aged and corrupt Zanu-PF elite culminating in Mr Tsvangirai's lead in the first round of the presidential elections in 2008, but the party had since lost any goodwill it had as public opinion favours Zanu-PF.

"The MDC enjoys backing from many foreign actors in the region and from overseas. Yet the party also faces numerous problems.

"First, its reputation has suffered critical blows from a range of personal lapses by its leader: numerous sexual adventures of 61 year-old Tsvangirai, including the pregnancy of a 23-year old woman and his denial of paternity; reports of growing corruption and financial mismanagement within the MDC headquarters; and Tsvangirai's refusal to accept criticism of his increasingly centralised leadership style," reads the EU report.

" What is more, the MDC's participation in government for more than four years -- although in a weak position -- renders it increasingly difficult to argue that it could bring about a radical turn for the better. Disenchanted with the party's inability to trigger decisive change, many young urbanites -- previously the MDC's most devoted supporters -- have stopped attending the party's once-overcrowded rallies and have sought other arenas to voice their discontent. Pentecostal churches have seen their popularity skyrocket, and new political alternatives have emerged, including the recently revived Zimbabwe African People's Union."

Several recent surveys from the likes of Mass Public Opinion Institute, Freedom House and Afro barometer have pointed to a Zanu-PF victory in the harmonised elections with the latest opinion coming from the leading US think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations that described the prospect of a Zanu-PF loss at the polls as highly unlikely.

The EU report acknowledges this saying; "recent surveys suggest that Zanu-PF by now attracts more public support than the MDC, a total turnaround from 2008/2009. The MDC may yet regain control by forming a coalition with a third party. Yet Tsvangirai's chances of finding a suitable partner appear meagre, since he broke ties with a smaller MDC faction led by Welshman Ncube, and other promising parties are lacking."

The MDC-T attempt to form a grand coalition against Zanu-PF ahead of the elections recently hit a snag with several key allies; among them the NCA, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, MDC99, ZCTU Concerned Affiliates and MDC, distancing themselves from the party accusing it of losing direction.

Voting patterns in the Constitutional referendum held mid-March revealed that Zanu-PF strongholds drove the Yes Vote, a development affirmed by statistics released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that showed high voter registration in Zanu-PF strongholds coupled with low figures in urban and peri-urban areas from where the MDC-T drew support over the years.

The MDC-T acknowledged the voter apathy in its election strategy document titled 'Priority Activities ahead of 2013 Election'.

The EU document also lays into the MDC-T's campaign of violence which it said was costing the party support.

"Evidence that MDC youth groups have engaged in violent campaigns has further undermined the party's credibility. The political outlook, as a result, has changed drastically".

The MDC-T has unleashed a wave of intra- and inter-party political violence in a bid to not only trash the political environment to abet its call for poll postponement, but to also provide fodder for its Western allies to discredit the poll. Harmonised elections are scheduled for July 31, with nomination courts for contesting candidates sitting on Friday.

The terror campaign began last year, but was intensified from January, with over 45 cases being recorded countrywide since the beginning of the year.

In all the recorded cases, MDC-T supporters were at the forefront of attacking their colleagues or those from other political parties, especially Zanu-PF.

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