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Zimbabwe elections

Analogies are being made between the current situation in Zimbabwe and the aftermath of the elections in Kenya. Others argue that the two are completely different. What worries me (apart from the prospect of Mugabe’s return) is that the possible development of a new trend of “civilian coups” in Africa. Nigeria and Ethiopia managed to quickly fade away from people’s consciousness, perhaps because of the lack of accompanying “tribal warfare” (numerous opposition activists were killed and detained in Ethiopia but the story never developed legs, no thanks to the international community rolling over and playing dead). The playbook seems to be largely the same – conduct elections without the previous obvious unfair tactics like making it impossible for the opposition to hold rallies; refuse to implement fundamental constitutional and legal changes in the run-up to the election e.g. to allow for an impartial electoral commission, to allow for a credible election petitions court; delay results announcement to cause confusion/fear; manipulate results in that period; jump on the increased atmosphere of tension/protests etc. to implement “security” measures; black out the media; declare yourself president; muted expressions of protest your fellow African leaders [or some variation of the above].

What really disturbs me is that we are heading in a direction where elections are no longer going to be a credible/legitimate option for citizens who want change in Africa. And I’m not talking about rigging in the fashion of empty ballot boxes and all, but a complete undermining of the whole idea of changing governments by elections and the idea that when you vote you are exercising your democratic right. I regularly complain about the lack of engagement and activism from the class that has the wherewithall in Kenya to do so, but lets face it, most of us are content (no matter what your social status is) to let someone else to the dirty work and someone else do the leading…it’s just how things are (even democracy relies on that innate feeling). However, the ability to exercise your right to vote is an important outlet not just for those who feel it’s as far as they want to take their contribution to improving the political status quo, but also for those who feel that it’s the only non-violent way they can make their voices heard…take that away and where does that leave us?

For updates Zimbabwe, check out Comrade Fatso’s blog.

14 comments to Zimbabwe elections

  • Thanks for the link – really useful.

  • Owuor


    1. Kshs to USD (60:1): Zdollar to USD?
    2. Universal edn Kenya: Zimbabwe???
    3. Economic growth Kenya (6%): Zimbabwe?
    4. Freedom of expression Kenya (high): Zimbabwe???
    5. Health system Kenya: Zimbabwe???
    6. Media freedom Kenya: Zimbabwe????
    7. Poverty Level Kenya”Zimbabwe??

    compare along these lines….stop being narrow minded

    Owuor, why don’t you go ahead and include figures such as population and GDP while you are it? I was (really obviously) comparing the recent elections in the two countries.

  • All i was saying is Kenya in relation to Zim or Mugabe in relation to Kibaki Leadership is not something that should even be brought up. Too bad our ECK decided to make us an SI unit of bad elections.

    The ECK was extremely negligent in the way they handled the election results, keeping people waiting for 5 days while in 2002 2 days were enough to declare the results is very similar to the situation in Zim right now. It does nothing but build anxiety.

    That not withstanding doesn’t make Kibaki any comparable to Mugabe or other failed fallen presidents.

  • Vince

    @ Owuor
    I don’t know which Kenya you are referring to above. What is the difference between Zimbabwe and Kenya in your # 3, # 4, # 6 and # 7 above? Which Kenya gives people and media their freedom of expression? When Kenyans demonstrate at Uhuru Park asking for a lean and efficient cabinet, they are teargassed and beaten – what freedom of expression is that? To be honest with you your # 1 and # 2 above are the only things that are different between Kenya and Zimbabwe. The rest are the same.
    Today, ZANU-PF declared that they are going to take part in the run-off elections in two weeks time. Where on earth will a government decide to go for a run-off election when they can’t even release the results? Zimbabwe constitution stipulates that election results must be released 6 days after the general elections. Tomorrow – Saturday April 5th 2008 will be the 7th day. What is the basis of the run-off?

  • Obviously Owuor and Shiroh fit the bill of those you say are “content with things as they are..”

    So, maybe your lot in life is not “bad” as the others, but if we do not make our systems better now, 30 years down the line, your posterity will reap the results of the feeling that “Kibaki is not so bad” or “Kenya is not comparable to Zimbabwe.”

  • Kamau

    I understand why some one would make a comparison btn the two countries. However, if we are to make some lemonade out of these stinky lemons, its worth looking at the other narrative coming out of the two elections – Big time ministers were shown the door. It may not be much of consolation but at the very least there is an illusion of the system working the way it is intended.

    Going forward, there’s one bright prospect to look forward to – these geezers won’t be on the ballot next time around and i seriously doubt the next bunch has the balls for a 2007/08 redux…

  • what I don’t get is why African dictators choose to hold elections. It’s a complete waste of public resources to hold elections and have them not count at all.

    Africa cannot feed its people. It cannot educate its people. It cannot treat its people. It cannot govern itself.

    As a friend of mine suggested in class yesterday….. may be the entire continent should be put under UN receivership until it gets its act together. May be then we can get rid of the Mugabes, Obiangs and Zenawis that make living in Africa hell on earth.

  • Sijui

    Perhaps the crux of your arguments is how much are Kenyans willing to pay for freedom? Many of the things you cite boil down to how vested in Kenya are Kenyans? And if the country disintegrates, whose fault is it?

    One thing I particularly like about the aftermath of the Kenyan election is that the average low income mwananchi fought back, and in my opinion they fought less for their civic freedoms……I think that is obvious by the nature of the blood letting………but more for their naked self interest, as blatantly parochial and regressive as that might be. I now have far more respect for people acting on their suspicions and resentments than the cowardly, complacent and self absorbed ‘middle class’. And I don’t want to make the mistake of painting the ENTIRE Kenyan middle class with the same brush, that would be dishonest and clearly there are many who fought the good fight however my point is, things would not have changed HAD THE VAST MAJORITY of the working class and low income not brandished their pangas.

    And yes, Kenya has come to the point where disputes will have to be settled violently. I’m glad the average mwanachi has disavowed the pretense of a stable, functional society. And are dealing with the ethnic, social and political fissures head on, albeit violently and disastrously…..atleast they’re dealing with them and don’t have their head up their arses.

    My personal position on all of this is let the chips fall where they may, and let’s all be forced to dealing with the price of stitching back together a disintegrating country.

    P.S. I’m glad Zimbabweans got their balls back…..sorry if this offends anyone…….but I remain unimpressed with their determination to rid themselves of tyranny, I believe KENYA WOKE THEM UP! The extent that people were willing to go (including killing their own neighbors) for a sense of electoral justice.

  • Vince

    You guys must have heard of the latest request from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF – they now want a recount of votes in some constituencies where they lost. Again, my question to everybody: How do you ask for a recount before you release the results?. What is the basis of the recount? How does ZANU-PF know that they lost and therefore a recount should he held? This can only be done after the results are officially announced.

  • Relieved

    Actually, I think you guys are too hard on Owour and Shiroh, there is no way one can compare Kenya to Zimbabwe, here are some additonal reasons:
    1. Kenya begins with the letter K, Zimbabwe with the letter Z.
    2. Kenya has the Indian Ocean, Zimbabwe does not.
    3. Kenya nearly disintegrated in an allout war, Zim did not.
    4, Kenya is an ally in the war on terror, Zim is not.
    5, Kenya hosts it’s own refugees, Zim does not.
    6. Kenya can beg for aid on behalf of it’s IDP’s, Zim cannot.

    I also agree with Shiroh’s implied statement, the ECK acted on their own, as is often said by our beloved, leaders, “Africans are not ready for democracy”.

    Maybe we need more workshops, and, training in how to run an honest election. The training we got was on how to run an election, not on how to run an honest election.

  • The amount of naked savagery creeping to the surface in Kenyan cyberspace is quite revealing.

    Boil a missionary in your cauldron if you must, Sijui, but please leave fellow Kenyan brothers and sisters unharmed. And keep your mouth shut.


  • I think you have a point K.P. that across Africa we are seeing a new brand of ‘civilian coups’ where leaders who came in as reformers, eg Kibaki, Wade of Senegal, are rigging themselves to stay in power. Its really continent wide!

    I think, however, its telling to see that many of the MPs in these countries are getting replaced. Which tells me that democracy is indeed taking root across the continent but that its stopping short of the presidency.

    I think we have come a long way in Kenya and that the newly expanded middle class is going to be key to democracy reaching the top.

    One major challenge I see is that this middle class, and the working classes that took to the streets with pangas etc are lacking effective direction. I see the current crisis in Kenya as a moment that is ripe for change but we are unfortunate in our lack of committed and truly progressive leadership.

    With appologies to R.O’s supporters, I think the last month has revealed serious weaknesses in his democratic credentials. And we all know Kibaki stopped offering that hope years ago.
    Question is where do we look now? Githongo? Kiai? PLO?
    around whom can we rally?

  • Osas

    “Question is where do we look now? Githongo? Kiai? PLO?
    around whom can we rally?”

    A bedazzled slave looking for a new Massa.
    A sad sight to behold. No wonder that there is no progress in sight, with such an attitude.


  • […] freshly-baked idiocy April 9, 2008 Sijui, in a comment at Ory’s blog says: One thing I particularly like about the aftermath of the Kenyan election […]