Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Mugabe faces humiliation in run-off

President Mugabe faces certain defeat in a run-off of the presidential race to be held at least 21 days after the formal announcement of results from the first round of voting. Buoyed by its remarkable showing in an election that many pundits had predicted would be easily snapped up by Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party, the MDC has gone ahead to declare Morgan Tsvangirai the next president of Zimbabwe, adding that even though they are confident their man won an outright victory in the first round, they would gladly go ahead to contest in the run-off should the official vote count deem it necessary.

There is no coming back from the abyss for Mugabe. None of his legendary shenanigans will work this time round. For starters, this round will be more closely scrutinised than the last one. The regional bloc, SADC, will be under the omnipresent glare of the international community and its own integrity is at stake should it be seen to be partial towards Mugabe. Besides, the high likelihood of a Tsvangirai victory will certainly compel them to be seen to be dealing fairly with a potential future colleague within the regional body.

Secondly, the security forces will be inclined towards even-handedness as
their current handlers no longer wield decisive authority over them on
account of the establishment's own uncertain political future. Those security elements rumoured to be behind Simba Makoni are likely to follow their man behind Morgan Tsvangirai. The same goes for civil servants and other government officials who have been routinely used by Mugabe in his campaigns; they may not render themselves so readily usable in a partisan scheme that looks increasingly likely to be swept by the tide of history.

Since Makoni pledged early on to back Morgan Tsvangirai, the tide
of disaffected Zanu PF supporters who voted for him is likely to swing in
Tsvangirai's favour. Those Zanu PF officials and MPs who were silently
backing Makoni but afraid to come out will now be in a position to do
so, recognising that Mugabe is increasingly sliding into the past. They may do this also as a way to curry favour with the emergent establishment. This swing will definitely ensure Bob is well and truly buried.

The voter turnout was a mere 50% in the last round. The drama and anxiety created by
the announcement of results has got everyone in the country hooked. The opposition's victory in the parliamentary race has created a sense of euphoria among voters who are no doubt thrilled that finally, they have managed to shake off the yoke of Zanu PF's 30 year-old dominance of Zimbabwean politics. Interest in what's going on is at a peak, and if a run-off should be called, as is now likely, there is certainly going to be a higher turn out as people move to get involved in this historical moment. Zanu PF will crank their system to make sure all their voters come out - it's Mugabe's last stand. And precisely because it is, the anti-Zanu PF vote will rise to move in for the kill. A cornered Mugabe is a scenario only previously imagined but never before seen.

I just wish I was also there to help deliver the sucker punch.

Icho! (Manheru will finally shut up!!)