Despite the latest survey suggesting a possible dead heat in next week’s crunch polls, any hopes of Zimbabwe stitching together another government of national unity (GNU) are dead in the water — with both President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa ruling out such an arrangement yesterday, the Daily News can report.
It is at the same time that the recent Mass Public Opinion Institute and Afrobarometer survey has indicated that Chamisa has clawed his way back into serious contention to become Zimbabwe’s next leader, after he cut Mnangagwa’s lead to a mere three percentage points — suggesting that the July 30 presidential plebiscite will likely be very tight.
Chamisa, who assumed the leadership of the MDC early this year from the party’s late founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai — who succumbed to colon cancer in February — has cut Mnangagwa’s pre-poll ratings from 44 to 40 percent, which leaves him within striking distance of the Zanu PF strongman, at 37 percent.
The results of this survey also came as the youthful MDC Alliance presidential candidate has been packing venues for his campaign rallies to the rafters — even outside of the usual opposition strongholds in the urban areas — although Mnangagwa has also been attracting similarly huge crowds in former opposition territories.
According to the country’s Constitution, if Mnangagwa and Chamisa finish level, they will be required to go into a run-off, whose results will then decide the ultimate winner.
But before such a run-off can come into play, whoever commands 50 percent plus one vote in Monday’s high-stakes elections will automatically assume the top political office in the country.
Zanu PF legal secretary and elections spokesperson, Paul Mangwana, told the Daily News yesterday that Zimbabwe was not “in a state of crisis” — meaning, in his view, that there was no chance of witnessing another GNU in the country as had happened a decade ago.
“The Constitution of Zimbabwe does not provide for a GNU. If you go back to the GNU in 2009, it was formed because of a political contestation. Remember Tsvangirai did not participate in the run-off election alleging violence … and Sadc then intervened saying there should be a GNU.
“Now we have a completely different situation. If any of the presidential candidates wins with one vote, then they can form the next government. All over the world, it is known that governments of national unity are weak and are transitional mechanisms.
“That was the case in 2009 … but this time around, we don’t want a GNU because the people of Zimbabwe are united already and this time Zanu PF will win with no need for a run-off.
“In this case, the winner will take all. We debated this (as political parties) and we all agreed that we will not have another GNU,” Mangwana said.
MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora also told the Daily News that they would not enter into an electoral pact with Zanu PF “whatever the circumstances”.
“We are going to score an outright win. All the surveys show that we have gained significantly in the past weeks … where we were lagging behind by 11 percent, now it is only three percent.
“What the law says is that if there is no winner, we can only go for a run-off where a winner will be decided. But there is no way we will lose to Zanu PF or form a coalition with them,” Mwonzora said.
This comes as the election run-up has been characterised by multiple court challenges and protests against the national elections management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) — which stands accused of frustrating the oppositions’ demands for conditions which would lead to a non-disputed poll outcome.
The ensuing political tension has triggered fears that Zimbabwe is once again headed for a disputed poll — with the MDC Alliance also insisting that it will announce the results of the keenly-anticipated plebiscite before the under-fire national elections management body does so.
Chamisa and the MDC Alliance have also twice held successful demonstrations against Zec, as they pressed for a raft of electoral reforms which include demands to witness the printing of ballot papers and being told how these would be transported.
Mangwana claimed yesterday that Chamisa and his allies wanted to create “ideal conditions to contest the outcome of the presidential elections”.
“We are aware that they want to set conditions for disputing the elections, but we will not negotiate with anyone.
“The MDC has refused to participate in by-elections since 2014 and they can do that now (boycott polls) … let them make their choice,” he said.
In 2009, former President Robert Mugabe was forced into forming a GNU with Tsvangirai after the hotly-disputed 2008 polls.
In those polls, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands down. However, the results of the elections were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud, which were later revealed by former bigwigs of the ruling Zanu PF.
In the ensuing sham presidential run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu PF apparatchiks engaged in an orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed, forcing the former prime minister in the inclusive government to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.
Mugabe went on to stand in an embarrassing and widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.
This year’s elections, which have generated a lot of interest among both ordinary people and ambitious politicians alike, will be the first since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980 not to feature Mugabe — who resigned from office last November after Parliament had started damaging proceedings to impeach him.
The elections will also, for the first time in two decades, not include the popular Tsvangirai.
Mnangagwa, 75, is seeking a substantive term in the July 30 harmonised elections, in which he will face Chamisa and 21 other presidential aspirants.
And for the first time in post-independent Zimbabwe, there will also be female presidential candidates — four of them — taking on their male counterparts for the right to occupy the most powerful political office in the country after the plebiscite.