Davos and 2018 elections: What to expect

Tau Tawengwa
However, after hearing President Mnangagwa reiterate in Davos that Zimbabwe is open for business and after observing his interactions with world business leaders, I have come to the realisation that international business is not going to listen to the calls of a splintered and weak opposition that is struggling to appoint a successor to its longtime leader.

In 2017, I argued that Zanu-PF would win the 2018 harmonised elections based on three fundamental reasons.

Firstly, Zanu-PF has a more conscientised membership than any other political movement in the country. Political consciousness refers to the levels of awareness and knowledgeability around a party’s political and ideological positions among its core and potential supporters.

Secondly, the success of Command Agriculture in the 2016-17 summer cropping will resonate in the 2018 elections as an advantage for Zanu-PF.

This is because Government has enough food in its silos to feed the population affected by this season’s adverse weather conditions.

In this light, Zanu-PF will raise Command Agriculture as one of its key electoral points.

The third reason is the youth vote.

About 60-65 percent of the population is below 40 years old.

Between 2013 and 2018, it is Zanu-PF that has had the most active and visible youth league among all major political formations in the country.

Furthermore, the MDC-T’s “no reform no election” lobby which saw the party boycott by-elections since 2013 means that for four years, Zimbabwe’s main opposition has lost the opportunity to conscientise the electorate on its policy and ideological positions.

Put plainly, the opposition’s “no reform no election” agenda was a disservice to itself.

Nevertheless, the key aspect as to why Zanu-PF will win in 2018 centres on events which began in November 2017.

The Post-Mugabe era

The MDC-T’s main political impediment since 2000 has been focusing on the “Mugabe must go” mantra, and they credited themselves with being the only political party which could unseat him.

Fast-forward to January 2018, we find ourselves in a Zimbabwe where former President Mugabe recently stepped down.

Credit for his deposition lies within Zanu-PF in general, and with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, in particular.

In this light, voters who previously sympathised with MDC-T’s “Mugabe must go” politics will arguably sympathise with Zanu-PF in the 2018 election.

Furthermore, the MDC Alliance’s intra-party succession politics will cost it votes.

Yet, the main reason why we can expect Zanu-PF to win 2018 elections is that no other candidate is able to match President Mnangagwa’s leadership.

That observation is not based upon sentiment or speculation, but upon certain scientific analytical tools.

Here’s the thing: there is a three-tier criteria for judging leadership and authority in an individual.

The best leaders in history arguably possess all three characteristics combined while lesser leaders possess one or two of the three traits.

These three characteristics of authority are:

l Traditional authority which is legitimated by the sanctity of tradition and traditional leaders. In Zimbabwe, recently, the president of the Chief’s Council, Chief Fortune Charumbira, acknowledged President Mnangagwa as the rightful Zimbabwean leader, consequently implying that he has the necessary traditional authority to lead the country;

l Charismatic authority which is found in a leader who inspires others by his personal history and vision. Leaders like Joshua Nkomo and Nelson Mandela undeniably possessed this trait. In Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa’s economic vision is inspiring to all Zimbabweans and at this point, Zimbabweans across race and class are willing to give him the opportunity to implement his vision; and

l Legal-rational authority which is authority that is possessed by an individual owing to education and even bureaucratic positions. In our context, President Mnangagwa is a lawyer who has served in Government in various ministries, including Defence, Security and Finance.

Essentially, President Mnangagwa has traditional, charismatic and legal-rational authority; therefore, the electorate will give him the opportunity to take the country forward.

Now, I’ve read various reports and opinion pieces arguing that President Mnangagwa should not call for elections in Zimbabwe until fundamental electoral reforms have been implemented.

This is noted.

However, after hearing President Mnangagwa reiterate in Davos that Zimbabwe is open for business and after observing his interactions with world business leaders, I have come to the realisation that international business is not going to listen to the calls of a splintered and weak opposition that is struggling to appoint a successor to its longtime leader.

Furthermore, I’ve noted that investors are primarily concerned with protection of property rights, ease of doing business and Government guarantee that their investments will be safe.

In this light, protestations by opposition politicians that reforms should be implemented before elections alongside their attempts to convince the world not to invest in Zimbabwe until that happens are naïve and misplaced.

The fact is that constitutionally, an election is due in Zimbabwe, and the constitution must be upheld.

Electoral reforms can be implemented after the polls.

At the end of the day, after observing Zimbabwe’s representation at the 2018 World Economic Forum meeting, two things are clear. Firstly, Zimbabwe is open for business and secondly, President Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF will win the 2018 harmonised elections.

That is what we should expect.

Nothing more, nothing less.

 

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