The spotlight is currently shining on Zimbabwe as the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission struggles to make sense of the votes cast in the just concluded vote.
African elections always offer voters great hope, a chance to kick out leaders who brutalize them after stealing their resources.
No Continent has been as unfortunate as Africa when it comes to leadership. No wonder the western media christened it THE DARK CONTINENT.
The Zimbabwean story is long and painful. It has moved from being Africa’s bread basket to the poorest, all within a span of around 30 years.
The country has known only one leader, the brutal Robert Mugabe. The man is a monster at home, dispossessing and impoverishing Zimbabweans.
No country beats Zimbabwe’s record when it comes to inflation. Items sold in the open air markets have billion dollar price tags. Zimbabwean dollars of course.
Mugabe was ignominiously the longest serving African leader, until he was overthrown by his erstwhile lieutenants in a protracted power struggle owing to his old age.
Emerson Mnagagwa came into office with a promise of organizing clean elections. He even invited foreign observers to come and witness that Africa too can have clean elections. The sad story is, African elections are clean until they become dirty.
Take Kenya as an example! Millions of people faithfully get out in the earliest hours of the morning to cast their votes, hoping that the votes would improve their lot.
Turn outs always portray a picture of hopelessness juxtaposed with hope. A poor person goes to the ballot with the hope that his vote will improve his economic situation by giving him a less corrupt leader.
Both the Zimbabwean and Kenyan votes were not only expressions of love for the opposition leaders but also display of outright hatred for the incumbents. This hate is almost tangible.
You don’t steal what you’re going to win. You steal because you’re losing. It is an indictment of sorts and it is a wonder how the false leaders quickly settle into office, forgetting the raw anger against them.
Zimbabwe and Kenya have many similarities. And of course some differences. But the stories are eerily similar. From mismanagement of the economy to land issues, to tribal mobilization, bungling of elections and many others, to mention only a few.
Kibaki gave the world a horrible legacy when it comes to elections. He clearly and outrightly lost the 2007 elections. But he stayed in office by brazenly topping up his votes. His entire cabinet was voted out even at his ethnic backyard. The irony of it all is that in the 2002 elections, he had demanded that Moi quickly handover power to him, something he was not ready to do when the roles were changed.
Kibaki refused to let go. He scrambled for a coalition with Kalonzo Musyoka, giving Kalonzo the vice presidency but still the country burned. Kalonzo has not been able to recover from the betrayer tag up-to-date. Kalonzo did not betray Raila! He betrayed Kenya’s attempt at leaping forward. The country is still stuck at the ethnic level of politics, something it briefly beat in the 2002 elections before the same Kibaki restored outright tribalism in governance.
Zimbabwean elections soon followed and the MDC under the late Tsvangirai beat Mugabe’s ZANU hands down. But Mugabe would not even think of handing over power. He moved to copy paste the Kenyan story, offering MDC the premiers post. Kibaki trick had just been exported.
Soon came the Côte de Ivoire story and Gbagbo was defeated by Allasanne Ouattara. Gbagbo laughed off his defeat daring Ouattara to swear himself, something Ouattara did to the dismay of the government in Abidjan. Soon the entire country was overran and today Gbagbo is cooling his heels in a prison cell. The second attempt at “Kibaki-ing” an election had failed.
Kibaki tricks were again tried in the Gambia. Adamma Barrow clearly beat Jammeh who would later renege on his own promise to respect the peoples voice. It took an international coalition to kick Jammeh out and install Adamma.
Currently, apprehension is building up in Zimbabwe. It is a farce that the ZEC cannot quickly tally simply addition maths. It is a wonder that in this century, manual computation is still allowed. Manual computations are prone to human error, genuine or intentional.
But African leaders want it that way. The longer it takes to compute, the easier it becomes for them to manipulate. Kenyans know the story! The systems are sabotaged then collapsed after which people are forced to accept manual computation, a process which takes close to a week! Imagine taking a whole week to add one plus one! Africa!
Unofficial reports coming out of Zimbabwe have it that Chamisa has 60% of the vote. But thats only until he doesnt have the same. The people had even started to celebrate but as the script always go, the security forces are already pouring into the streets threatening the public. Kenya! Again!
It is scary that both Chamisa and Mnagagwa are claiming victory! Remember 2007 Raila versus Kibaki? The government has come out again threatening those who declare themselves winners! Uhuru versus Raila! The police, like in kenya too, are threatening the people with the “we’re ready for you messages”. It is a wonder that the same policeman who coined this shameful phrase is still in office even with attempts at building bridges in Kenya.
The Zimbabwe story is going to stretch for days. The people are going to be given the illusion of winning but eventually, the predetermined results will prevail. Africa is the continent where you win until you lose.
The painful truth is that democracy as a promise has failed in Africa. Leaders come into office promising heaven but end up delivering hell.
There was an era where young “progressive” leaders walked into office and Africa seemed to be walking a new path. Ethiopia had Meles Zenawi a man who promised goodness but delivered bad, dying in office despite presenting himself as a democrat
Eritrea had Isaias Afwerki! He is still in office, decades on. Eritrea is one massive jail. Rwanda had Kagame and Uganda, Museveni. Look where the these countries are today. In Uganda, even petty gossip is an offense worthy of both taxation and jail time.
Even a Chamisa win wouldn’t have delivered Zimbabwe. He would just have been another bandit. This is Africa.