By Laetitia Boon
The aftermath of this year’s elections in Zimbabwe has left many people confused, but just as many indifferent. Why is it that Zimbabweans have given up on their nations’ politics?
When I was in kindergarten in Bulawayo, we would play on the jungle gyms and sing songs about how Mugabe would soon lose power. On election days I would see my friend’s parents come home, their fingers purple after having waited for hours in the boiling sun in order to vote. When I got older, we would fantasise about Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change winning the next elections, and that things would get better again. But it never happened.
On July 31st of this year, presidential elections took place once again. Due to the notorious illegality of previous proceedings, many institutions were put in place in order to ensure that the elections would be “Free and Fair”. Now, two months later, people are still debating about the outcome of the elections.
Mugabe, the president of Zanu Patriotic Front, won with 61%, renewing his term for another five years. He completely destroyed the fragmented opposition MDC, who only got 34% combined. At 89, he is the oldest dictator in Africa, and has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980. South African president Jacob Zuma congratulated him for his victory, and the South African Development Community also showed support.
MDC president Tsvangirai claimed the elections fraudulent. But many now believe that such claims of unfairness are not based on facts, but reflect a failure to accept defeat.
However, the suspicions that Zanu PF has once again used unlawful tactics, remain. Emil Kee-Tui, a student in Bulawayo, mentions “extending the voting role to beyond the grave” as an example – making dead people vote through Zanu PF officials, a practice that has been used repeatedly over the years.
Regardless of these problems, the elections were peaceful. Many Zimbabwians have decided to accept the outcome, even if disappointed and surprised with the results. Outside viewers may be shocked with this sentiment of “political apathy”, but it has become a necessity in a country where the political situation has not changed in 30 years.
Tsvangirai, the only alternative for Mugabe, has recently been under fire both from outside and from within the party. As Bramwell Ndlovu, a Zimbabwean musician, puts it: “Zimbabweans do want change, but no one wants Morgan Tsvangirai due to his short temper, womanising, selfishness and lack of leadership qualities.”
It has been suggested that Tsvangirai should resign, but he has outright refused, stating that leadership renewal is not needed. Many Zimbabweans agree that they wouldn’t want to trade one dictator for another. “Rather the evil you know than the evil you don’t,” says Kee-Tui.Indeed, Tsvangirai has been the MDC party leader since its creation in 1999, and seems to share Mugabe’s unwillingness to step down
So what can Zimbabweans truly do about their situation? Without a strong opposition to put their faith in, very little can be done legally. Hence, they wait. Maybe change will come someday from an unexpected corner.