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2023 polls and lessons from Kenya

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AS Kenyans took to the polls on August 9 2022, there was high expectation that those polls would capture the attention of Zimbabweans, especially when one of the presidential candidates, Raila Odinga, once tried to dabble in Harare’s internal politics by openly endorsing the opposition.

With CCC claiming ‘deep ties’ with Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema, there was speculation that another ‘team opposition’ supporter, Raila Odinga, would take the Kenyan presidency, ‘prophetically speaking’ into Zimbabwe’s 2023 election.  

And, true to form, opposition activists in the CCC latched on to the bandwagon, trying to draw parallels between the two nations.

Chamisa once again embarrassed himself through a supposedly cryptic message which was unravelled as a congratulatory message to Odinga.

“Kenya is a sign!” said Chamisa gleefully on his Twitter handle on August 11, just two days after elections started and vote counting was at 38 percent.

But there were no flowers for the excitable politician as one Kenyan took him head on.

“We Kenyans are waiting for the results…But in Zimbabwe they are already celebrating…what a time to live!,” said a Dr Juma Madanga.

Their now trademark lunacy was, as has become the norm when elections are held elsewhere, there for all to see as they pretended to ignore the glaring fact that Kenya has one of the most violent and unstable electoral processes on the continent. 

CCC’s easily excitable interim vice-president Tendai Biti wrote: “Bar the official announcement Kenya is done & dusted. After DRC, Malawi, Zambia and Kenya, Zimbabwe is next. It has been a great learning experience. We have seen how a people despite their huge differences can come together & build a nation with institutions that work.

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), as the Kenyan nation approached election day, “…more than 1 060 political disorder events have been reported as of 5 August — already the largest number of incidents recorded for any year since the start of ACLED coverage of Kenya in 1997.”

Kenya is one of the few African countries with both US and UK military bases on its soil. 

To the discerning, it therefore does not matter who wins the election as long as their interests are safeguarded. 

British corporate giants Unilever, James Finlay, Brooke Bond and Lipton own lucrative Kenyan tea plantations. There are horror stories of exploitation at these plantations but that is a story for another day.

Kenya has ‘institutions that work’ but from as far back as 1992, 1997, 2007 (reportedly being the worst with over 1 600 deaths) and 2017, the announcement of election results begins an orgy of violence that often involves the heavy presence of the military.

In Zimbabwe, the August 2018 post-election violence that saw six people dead had the Western governments in cahoots with the opposition calling for resignation of the President, claiming he should be accountable even though an inquiry showed there were other forces at play in order to invalidate the election.

The international media, typically bankrolled by individuals allied to heavy investors in certain countries, Kenya in this instance, largely ignore or tone down atrocities in States they have interests as long as their investments are not threatened by the executive.

After the 2017 elections, the Kenya National common for Human rights reported that by August 12, at least 24 people had been killed. 

Medicins Sans Frontiers East Africa reported treating 64 people, 11 of whom  had gunshot wounds. 

The Kenya Red Cross treated another 108 people with serious injuries.

Despite having ‘institutions that work’, four commissioners with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) including the vice-chairperson of the C0mmission reportedly held a press conference at Serena Hotel, Nairobi, to discredit the 2022 election results.

People scuffle with security officials as they block the IEBC chairman from announcing election results at the IEBC National Tallyng Centre.

According to a report by Bloomberg: “Gunshots rang out as supporters of presidential candidate Raila Odinga stormed the podium where the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission officials were gathered before the results announcement. Foreign diplomats left the centre because of security concerns…”

What has also not escaped the discerning eye is the intractable silence from Western countries on the announcement of the election results by IEBC, Kenya’s Election Commission.

While the IEBC has seven days to announce in full results of the elections, Harare’s Electoral Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), has five days to do the same; but during the 2018 harmonised elections of July 31 2018, Western countries were already laying siege on ZEC barely 24 hours after close of voting.

On August 1 2018, at 14:03pm, the head of the EU in Zimbabwe said: “The @ZECzim delays presidential election result, the more credibility it loses.”

Meanwhile, Chamisa was mobilising to unleash violence, claiming ZEC had taken ‘long’ to announce the results and that it was rigging them in favour of ZANU PF.

Morgen Komichi, then strong allies with Chamisa in the MDC Alliance, on August 2 2018, disrupted a ZEC results announcement media briefing when he took to the podium to declare the latter as winner of the presidential election. 

Veteran journalist Haru Mutasa of Al Jazeera lays bare the duplicity of Western countries when it comes to elections in Africa.

“Can I say this. If this was a #Zimbabwe election, with any perceived delay — some western democracies would by now be loudly issuing statements – some calling for more sanctions. #Kenya…silence. Double standards?” she said in a post on Twitter on Sunday.

“#Zimbabwe elections are next year, make note of how western countries comment/react etc to #KenyansDecides2022. Then let’s compare with Zimbabwe next year. Double standards? Same with #South Africa, +300 people died rioting last year — silence. No calls for sanctions.

It’s coz Zimbabwe took back land from whites. Discussion on western countries silence on #Kenya election result delays compared to how they treat #Zimbabwe elections.”

Zimbabwe has had the misfortune of having an opposition specifically created to destabilise the country, to reverse the gains of the liberation struggle and give unfettered dominion to our erstwhile oppressors.

The evidence is there for all to see.

Ours is an opposition that has been imprudent enough to openly get in bed with the West. 

They receive funding, training on anarchy and all forms of purported support from outsiders under the pretext that the EU and Uncle Sam will bring the so-called ‘democracy’ to Harare once they assume power.

Democracy, as we have stressed time-and-again, was delivered on the national platter on April 18 1980 when our liberation fighters won the country back to the masses.

The opposition in Zimbabwe calls their warped politics ‘the struggle for democracy’, whatever that means! 

There is nothing on the economic empowerment of the majority, something that ZANU PF, the target of their indignation, has done with aplomb through the historic Land Reform and Resettlement Programme of 2000 as well as other people-oriented initiatives that the ruling Party has embarked on over the past two decades. 

Zimbabwe is reeling from the devastating effects of the illegal economic sanctions imposed as a result of land reform and at the instigation of prominent actors in opposition ranks.

Which is why it is important to draw lessons from Kenya and how they unravel the folly of the opposition in Zimbabwe, together with their Western handlers.

“We will accept the outcome. If we win, we will celebrate and if we lose, we will also congratulate the winner because that’s what democracy is all about,”  CCC ally Odinga said before the elections.

“I’m willing for a second handshake, Kenya is more important than Odinga.”

But after the results, his supporters were burning tyres in Kibera, Nairobi, in protest of Ruto’s win.

In Zimbabwe, despite his insistence on having dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Chamisa’s intransigence is buffling.

 Even after being offered a platform for that interaction through the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), a platform for the 2018 election losing Presidential candidates, Chamisa has lurched from one misstep to another through his inflammatory statements against the establishment. 

That one-on-one chat with President Mnangagwa will never happen as long as he sticks to his ill-advised, cantankerous attitude.

On paper, the CCC claims a new Africa is emerging through ‘new’ leaders across the continent; they claim that their politics revolves on the youthful demographics, but, time-and-again ZANU PF has proved that misplaced assertion otherwise. Odinga, Chamisa’s candidate in the Kenyan elections, is 77 years old and we leave it at that.

While Kenya has shown that maturity is key in politics, Zimbabwe continues to face the threat of destabilisation sponsored by the West.

Already, they are sponsoring the training of CCC cyber activists under the guise of citizen journalism.

The EU in Zimbabwe, together with the Irish Embassy in Pretoria, through HIVOS, Southern Africa, funded this programme in Gutu on August 11 2022 under the so-called Women and Youth Inclusion for Equality Project.

“The training continues to impart women and youths with information on the importance of citizen journalism,” said the Women’s Coalition in Zimbabwe (WCoZ).

Zimbabwe is not Kenya.

Kenya President-elect William Ruto (left) and veteran activist and CCC’s ally and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga cast their votes recently in Kenya.

It is, on the contrary, a sign that no amount of interference from outsiders, with all their might, can derail the people’s dream.

Zimbabwe continues to stand strong, able and armed with the willpower to overcome all adversity.

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