by Daniel Chigundu
Constitutional lawyer and politician Tendai Biti has warned opposition parties in the country against being fooled by Zanu PF factional fights into believing they will win the impending 2018 general elections.
Zanu PF is currently at war with itself over succession issues with such prominent factions as Lacoste (believed to be fronted by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa) and G40 (reportedly fronted by First lady Grace Mugabe) going at all odds to outdo each other at every opportunity that is thrown at them.
Biti believes the factions are generally about choosing the “chief thief who will guarantee continued looting” and that the factions will eventually join forces towards election time, but there is not enough time for electoral reforms before the 2018 polls.
“Zimbabwe is an unstable fragile state that is on the verge of an implosion. The truth of the matter is that any Zanu PF faction that takes over post Mugabe will require time to consolidate and no Zanu PF faction, post Mugabe, can hold this country together.
“The opposition equally, will require the National Transitional Authority (NTA) to create an even playing field before an election. Going to the elections now without a level playing field will spell doom for the opposition even if it is united.
“Coalition is necessary but not a sufficient condition, we don’t have time for reforms between now and 2018, Zanu PF will not reform the electoral laws willingly, and they will not reform themselves out of Power.
“Equally the people of Zimbabwe needs a transitional process as a rest haven away from the vicious contestation associated with Zimbabwe’s electoral authoritarianism. Suffice to say that, Zimbabwe needs a managed transition and only the NTA can offer that,” said Biti during a public lecture on the NTA.
Political parties under the banner of National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) are demanding electoral reforms before the 2018 polls, but Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Rita Makarau told the media that some of the reforms are beyond the commission and can only be addressed by Parliament.
The PDP President added that political parties are yet to get access to the electronic voters roll that was used during the 2013 harmonized elections and that there is not chance that they will even get the one for 2018 polls.
Biti said the international law is at its weakest and foreign countries are unable to intervene in the event of a chaos scenario, adding that Zimbabwe would require a soft landing to prevent political and economic disaster.
“SADC and the African Union have been so weak. Equally, Brexit and the rise of the far right in the West have shrunk the capacity of the West to make any meaningful intervention.
“In the context of the above Zimbabwe needs a soft landing to avoid a catastrophe. The National Transition Authority (NTA) is just a transitional mechanism to allow an orderly transition from an extractive predatory status quo to a more democratic sustainable Zimbabwe.
“Without the soft lending of the NTA, an overnight transition from dictatorship to democracy is not common on the African continent. The old order must be eased out of power. Put simply, Zimbabwe needs the NTA as a way and means of buying the peace. The NTA is not another GNU
“Unlike the GNU, the NTA will focus on key functions of transition and is a negotiated outcome. This negotiation will be inevitable in a post Mugabe scenario,” he said.
The former Harare East legislator added that transition is going to take place one way or the other and that unless democratic forces control the transition; Zanu PF will take charge of it and will usher in its younger generation.
Biti said the Zanu PF younger generation is only there to eat and their heroes are thieves.
“It’s a parasitic class that cling to something someone has built and they are very dangerous that is why we have to define the transition and capture peace, because the army wants war and this young generation is a catfish generation,” he said.