“A Dictator’s Guide to Rigging Elections: Lessons Learned from Zimbabwe’s Puppet Master” mugabe written by Jenai Cox Senior Program Officer, Africa
Synopsis of the Article
The author of this article is Jenai Cox, a Senior Program Officer of ‘Freedom House’: an independent American based human rights watchdog with its offices in Zimbabwe. The article is about President Robert Mugabe’s rigging styles. It gives a preview of seven stages that the despot president capitalized on to win the 2013 elections in spite of the fact that he was very unpopular with the electorate (Cox Web). This article highlights political corruption as a major problem in Africa.
An Outline of the Article’s Main Points
The article asserts that President Mugabe perfected seven ways in which he rigged the 2013 elections to maintain his three decades strong hold on power. These are beginning the election fraud early in advance, permitting shallow democratic reforms while keeping party bigwigs out of the negotiating table, managing the state broadcasting stations and heaping the courts with political appointees to uphold his constitutional decisions. The other methods involved controlling the electoral commission to ensure that his win though rigged is believable, steering clear of violence, proclaiming that the people have decided, and forging ahead (Cox Web).
In an effort to keep away from violence on the day of the election, it is believed that Mugabe began election fraud even before the official date of the elections had been announced. Upon ensuring his party had registered its voters, he unilaterally proclaimed the election date without consultation as required by law. Out of all the reforms that brought in the power sharing deal, Mugabe fulfilled only the bill of rights and thus was still able to engage in election malpractice (Cox Web). He capitalized on this loophole because the other reforms had not been enacted.
Prior to the elections, 90% of news channels highlighted the MDC in a negative limelight, thereby, giving the opposition party a big blow. Behind the scene was Mugabe. In May, a Mugabe supporter went to court to compel it to interpret the constitution on when the elections should be held. The judge, believed to be a Mugabe political appointee, declared that the vote would be held on May 31st just as Mugabe had announced (Cox Web).
The President out rightly stayed out of violence in the 2013 elections. Unknown by many, he had already manipulated the rigging to win by a big margin. He did this through ensuring that at the helm of the electoral commission were two close allies; the chairman who was formerly an MP affiliated to his party and the Commission’s registrar, a man who had served him for the three decades he had been in power (Cox Web).
The same pomp and celebration that graced his debut to power 33 years ago was witnessed at his sixth inauguration ceremony. As much as the MDC tried to postpone the inauguration through filing a petition in the courts, one of Mugabe’s political appointees threw out case once again. Upon assuming office, Mugabe sacked all the MDC appointees and never looked back (Cox Web).
Lessons From the article
I have learned that Mugabe perfected seven ways in which he rigged the 2013 May elections. However, I have not learned how he rigged the 2008 elections. The writer should have covered part of the 2008 rigged elections that led to violence and a final power sharing deal between Mugabe and the MDC.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Article
The article draws its strength from the fact that it provides real evidence of the electoral malpractice perfected by Mugabe prior to the 2013 elections. On the other hand the weakness of the article stems from the fact that it does not substantiate about how the reforms were blocked. This occurred because the MDC had many members in parliament compared to ZANU PF and would have easily passed motions on reforms (Cox Web).
Political corruption is an enduring problem in Africa. This situation is exemplified by the way President Mugabe leads his nation with impunity and corruption. It is true that Mugabe worked behind the scenes to ensure that he won a sixth term as president on a silver platter. This means that the country is likely to go back to the old days of human rights violations. The western world has been blacklisted by Mugabe, who has since turned East to China. My opinion is that the International Criminal court should keep a close eye on Zimbabwe with the objective of persecuting Mugabe if he turns to his old ways of human rights violations.
Cox Jenai, A Dictator’s Guide to Rigging Elections: Lessons Learned from Zimbabwe’s Puppet Master: Freedom House, Africa. 13th, November, 2013: Web.
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