By-Elections: Zanu PF Smokescreen For Incompetence

By Prince Tongogara

Zanu (PF) for the first time since 2000 has enjoyed unprecedented majority in the National Assembly. It has a comfortable two-thirds majority and recently received a further boost when it won 14 by-elections from the opposition MDC-T. However questions still linger on to what end the regime has used the majority so far against it new quest for by-elections.

It is a fact that before these by-elections Zanu (PF) controlled 200 seats out of the 270 in the national assembly. The 14 new seats take it to 214 seats in the lower house.

However, a cursory look on the national economic indicators since July 31, 2013 general elections show the economy stagnating or in some areas deteriorating.

As many as 5 000 companies, according to the labour unions and treasury reports, have closed shop in the last two years pushing well over 55 000 workers out of employment.

The banking industry has shrunk and looks likely to continue on that trajectory as three banks closed their doors for failing to meet the minimum capital requirements set by the central bank. Among those which closed are Interfin, Kingdom and Allied Bank.

The energy sector, a core player in spurring economic development, still remains performing well below national requirements. The country is still producing less than 50% of the 2 200 Mega Watts required daily by the nation. This has been exposed by the continued and increased load shedding particularly in the suburbs and industrial areas.

Zinwa and local authorities still fail to deliver consistent supplies of water to the majority of the urban residents. The bad situation is keeping the public apprehensive about a fresh potential cholera/typhoid epidemic as experienced in the country in 2008-9.

Legislatively, the Zanu (PF) government has failed to pass laws that are urgently required to be aligned to the constitution. The General Laws Amendment Bill which was recently gazette is still to be debated in parliament. This piece of legislation is meant to align nearly 400 pieces of statutes to the constitution.

The government is still to set up the newly created Gender and National Healing commissions which were created by the new constitution.

What has Zanu PF used its majority for in the last two years? It is shocking that it has used its numbers in parliament to sort out the raging leadership succession debates in the party.

Former vice president Joice Mujuru was expelled from the party along with those thought to be aligned to her at the December party national congress. The trend has continued with further expulsions of sitting MPs. The recent by-elections in Hurungwe West and Harare East constituencies have shown how divided the party is. In Hurungwe east it enjoyed a slender lead after more than six weeks of pummeling, threatening and coercing people to vote for it. More than half of the politburo members including the new vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko descended on a campaign trail in the remote, underdeveloped, constituency.

Independent candidate Temba Mliswa was twice arrested and spent time in police custody but was never charged in a competent court – a clear indication that his arrests were politically motivated.

In Harare East until a week before the by-election Zanu PF members were not clear on who was the official party candidate between Mavis Gumbo and Terence Mukupe. The debacle was resolved not without claiming the scalps of provincial chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa and provincial youth chair Godwin Gomwe among others.

It has now become common cause that Zanu (PF) continues to use by-elections as a smokescreen for its economic mismanagement and incompetence despite having a two-thirds majority in parliament.

The by-elections draw attention to the useless contestations that electorally does not have any value – since Zanu (PF) already has a majority – except to puff up its ego in a failing economy.

The by-elections give the revolutionary party the unprecedented opportunity to loot the state coffers dry as its ministers criss-cross the country campaigning, building a national profile – using state resources. Both vice-presidents Mnangagwa and Mphoko have traversed the country drumming up support for party candidates despite the fact that those elections are safe as no powerful opposition is contesting.

To that end, one can see that Zanu PF abuses its majority to settle internal party disputes and keep the citizens’ eye off the ball by continuously holding meaningless, expensive, by-elections like the next three in Mwenezi East, Marondera Central and Mbire constituencies.