It is only too often bemoaned that one-time idealistic liberation movements have changed into political parties, convinced of their right to rule forever. Elections for change inevitably brought the same things as before.
And yet, despite or because of the chaotic and dismal August elections in Zimbabwe, things are stirring!
For the first time in southern Africa, the SADC Observer Mission protested against the procedure, with the African Union (AU) following. Only three African Presidents (South Africa, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) attended Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration. The remaining 51 stayed away, sending representatives.
Zambia’s President Haikande Hichilema sent no congratulations. But his man, the former Zambian Vice President Dr. Nevers Mumba, Head of the Observer Mission, had expressed his displeasure with the Zimbabwe elections. This time, the usual praise and acceptance of the results as free and fair was missed. Instead of the regular praise and acceptance of the results as free and fair, to ZANU (PF)’s dismay, Dr. Mumba briskly criticized the elections shortfall against the country’s constitution, the Election Act, and SADC’s Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
Nelson Chamisa, leader of the main opposition Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC), who allegedly polled 44% against Mnangagwa’s 52%, has demanded new elections under SADCC, the AU, and, by extension, the Western powers. This will no doubt meet legal and political stumbling blocks.
South Africa’s ”Daily Maverick (DM)” perceived Dr. Mumba’s forthright view as the lifting of the veil over southern Africa’s regional politics. More than that! The DM spoke of two opposing axes. The emergent pro-democratic politicians such as Zambia’s Hichilema, Uganda’s Bobi Wine, and Nelson Chamisa hope to cause the downfall of the “Big Men” of the entrenched ex-liberation parties. Bobi Wine, the stage name of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, a singer, actor, and politician, is leader of the National Party Platform party. He participated in the 2121 election and lost to the incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Kyagulanyi has suffered imprisonment, ill-treatment, and house arrest.
In recent years, there have been other signs of pro-democracy moves. In 2019, the Malawi Constitutional Court nullified the fraudulent elections. In Zambia, ex-President Rupiah Banda and Ernest Karoma, Sierra Leon’s former President as head of the AU Observer Mission, clamped down on the former President of Zambia. While former president Edgar Lungu’s efforts to hold power after the 2021 elections.
Zambia’s President Hichilema has joined the pro-democracy pacemakers. Hichilema – businessman, farmer, politician, millionaire – made five attempts as a presidential candidate until, after a prison spell, he reached the goal in 2021. The Zambian President and Dr. Mumba have strengthened the pro-democracy side. Though the unpopular “Crocodile” Mnangagwa still rules Zimbabwe, he may have to consider reform and fair elections in the face of widespread condemnation.