Tuesday, August 20, 2013

'If you lose, you must surrender'
By Editor
Thu 01 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE Zimbabwean people yesterday went to the polls to elect their president and members of parliament.

And compared to elections before, this can be said to have been relatively peaceful. We do not expect the Zimbabwean elections to perfectly meet every expectation of the participants. But from the conduct of the parties and the grievances raised, we feel the primary things that are required to make the participants accept the results were somehow met.

We therefore expect those who chose to participate in these elections to accept the outcome, that is defeat. We say defeat because nobody has problems accepting their own victory.

We also hope the international community, especially the Europeans and the Americans, will not make demands that will push the people of Zimbabwe much further apart and backwards. As President Robert Mugabe admits in a recent interview, "Although we boxed each other, it's not as hostile as before. It's all over now. We can shake hands." We hope this will be the spirit that prevails when the results of these elections are known or announced.

President Mugabe says, "If you go into a process and join a competition where there are only two outcomes, win or lose, you can't be both. You either win or lose. If you lose, you must surrender." This spirit must be lived up to by both President Mugabe and his supporters on the one hand and Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters on the other.

Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, says the party was only prepared to accept the results if the poll was "free and fair" - a verdict on which the jury is still out.

Tsvangirai has accepted to participate in these elections and he should therefore deal with the outcome in line with that acceptance. This however does not mean that Tsvangirai should accept the result, come what may. He has the right not to accept the result. But his rejection of the results has to be effected in a manner that does not disturb the peace and end up in the unnecessary loss of lives and property. There are peaceful procedures to protest and challenge an election result one does not find acceptable.

We saw what happened in this year's elections in Kenya. Raila Odinga did not accept the election result. But unlike before, his supporters remained calm and restrained while he challenged the results in the courts of law. The Kenyan Supreme Court upheld the election results that put Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner. Again, Odinga was not happy with the decision of the Kenyan Supreme Court, but for the sake of his country and his people, and in the interest of peace and stability, he respected a judgment he did not agree with.

We expect nothing less than this from all the parties that participated in yesterday's Zimbabwean elections. Those elections are certainly not perfect in terms of being free and fair, but they somewhat represent the nearest estimation of the wishes of the Zimbabwean people.

We hope the Zimbabwean people, this time round, will use their vote as a powerful weapon for unity and as an instrument for justice and peace. We say this because on their voting, on the quality of it, the discernment behind it, depend the progress and peace of their country. Let everyone involved have in their hearts the desire that all will benefit and not just the party which wins. Let it be said, not that this particular party won, but rather that Zimbabwe won the elections.

President Mugabe spoke of boxing each other; he did not speak of being at war with each other. In a boxing tournament, the aim is not to kill or destroy the opponent but to simply score more points and if possible temporarily knock him out of the fight. This should not be confused with a battlefield where the aim is to destroy, annihilate the other. These elections, after all, are not supposed to be a fight for survival, but a competition to serve the Zimbabwean people.

We urge those who will lose this election to educate their followers to be peaceful and tolerant. It is only in that way Zimbabwe will be united and peaceful. Let them set an example which will win the respect of the whole world.

Resorting to violence is unacceptable under any circumstance. And our final prayer and call is that although we are convinced that many things could have been done better, that there have been some injustices to those who are not in control of the electoral process, nevertheless, we are hoping that all will heed our appeal to the various political groupings to remain peaceful. The interests of the political parties and their candidates should be kept subordinate to the public good. And it is necessary to remind all parties that elections are for the good of the Zimbabwean people and their country, and not for the political survival of any individual or political party. If the spirit of the primacy of the common good were to animate all the Zimbabwean political parties and their leaders, we will not witness any violence after the results are announced.

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