The MDC-T Secretary General, Senator Douglas Mwonzora has called for electoral reforms in Zimbabwe before the next Harmonised Elections. Sen Mwonzora said electoral reforms will resolve the perennial problem of contested legitimacy in Zimbabwe.
In a post on Twitter, Sen Mwonzora also alluded to social and economic reforms that are pending in Zimbabwe. “In resolving the Zimbabwean crisis, we have to embark on serious and comprehensive social, political and economic reforms,” he said.
Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution in 2013 in a process that was co-chaired by Sen Mwonzora. Many provisions of that constitution have not yet been implemented, but the ZanuPF-led government is already seeking to amend various sections of the constitution. One of the mooted amendments is intended to give more power to embattled President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whereby he would be able to appoint all top judges, including those who sit in the Supreme Court. This particular amendment was, however, challenged in court by Jessie Majome and Innocent Gonese and was struck down in March 2020. Many other amendments, however remain in the pipeline.
Mwonzora made the call after the departure of South African ANC envoys comprised of Baleka Mbete, Sydney Mufamadi and Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who had come to assess the situation in Zimbabwe at the behest of President Cyril Ramaphosa. However, after meeting President Mnangagwa, the envoys cancelled proposed meetings with MDC-T and Nelson Chamisa and hastily departed for South Africa. Unconfirmed reports indicated that President Mnangagwa had told that the envoys that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe and they had been fed wrong information by exiled G40 luminaries like Saviour Kasukuwere and Walter Mzembi.
Zimbabwe is in the middle of a grappling economic and social crisis that is stemming from contested legitimacy of 2018 elections, which the highest court declared in favour of Mnangagwa after Chamisa had challenged the official results by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to the Supreme Court. Average inflation is officially at 315% but independent economists have it spiralling above 950%, resulting in prices of basic goods and commodities having quadrupled since January 2020. Recorded incidents of police and army brutality have risen and Covid-19 outbreak cited by authorities as a reason for stringent lockdown enforcement. There is police and army on all roads to enforce a 6pm to 6am curfew. With unemployment levels of around 90%, most Zimbabweans survive through the informal sector and the stringent measures have destroyed many incomes, deeply entrenching poverty.
The remarks by Sen Mwonzora come at a time when he is contesting to lead the MDC-T party. They also come at a time when the world and region is looking closely at Zimbabwe. Just in the last few days, the African Union issued a statement expressing concern regarding erosion of civil liberties in Zimbabwe under the guise of combating Covid-19 by government.