Analysis of March 29 Elections
In the March elections, MDC (T)has performed much better than we had anticipated, maintaining its urban strongholds and defeating Zanu PF in some of its previous strongholds in particular in Manicaland and Masvingo.1
The combined opposition will control the House of Assembly including appointing the Speaker. And contrary to our projections, if the two MDC factions had run united they would actually have won the March elections. However, our analysis remained valid in so far as the results show the continuing support for Zanu PF in the majority of rural supporters.
Thus unlike what happened to other regimes that had implemented neoliberal programmes and were subsequently virtually wiped out such as UNIP in Zambia, Kanu in Kenya or MCP n Malawi, Zanu PF still remains a substantial party in Zimbabwe despite the unprecedented economic crisis. Indeed the presidential results are going be decisive, for whichever party wins, will also control the legislature as the president will not only enjoy executive powers but also directly appoint 15 senators and influence the eighteen chief senators. Nonetheless the opposition did very well. What factors explain the above?
First and foremost is the massive poverty induced by the escalating economic crisis, now extending to the rural poor and the obvious inability of the state to address this. Whilst factors like corruption, inefficiency and agriculture decline partially explain the economic crisis, the fundamental reason is the strangulation of the economy by the capitalists and the western countries through direct and indirect sanctions. These include denial of access to international credit to the Zimbabwean state and companies under laws like the US Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act; travel warnings to tourists; massive reduction in investment and aid with for instance Zimbabwe now receiving less than US$10 for every person affected by AIDS/HIV when the regional comparison is over US$100.
Whilst strangulating the national economy and capacity of the state to deliver welfare, the western countries poured significant amounts of money into food relief for peasants in most rural areas through the WFP and international NGOs. Faced with another disastrous agricultural season the peasants, especially in the drought-prone provinces, voted with their stomachs for the party they felt was closest to those who were feeding them.
This is the "soft rigging" Zanu PF is now harping on and will possibly use as justification for rejecting the results.
Secondly and related to the above is the continued working class and urban poor support for MDC (T), in the absence of viable left alternatives and growing poverty. Further many workers retrenched as a result of the crisis and those displaced by Operation Murambatsvina provided the critical mass around which MDC (T) was able to campaign around in the rural areas. This was especially so in the context of probably the most peaceful electoral environment since 1980 due to the SADC/Mbeki Initiative, a sleek, deceitful and massively funded MDC (T) campaign, which for the first time since 2000 emphasized on the bread and butter issues affecting the masses such as education, health and food. Finally were the immense divisions within Zanu PF stalked by the succession question, which saw unpopular candidates imposed from the top.
Finally, Mugabe also paid the price the failure of his regime to radicalize further in response to the economic siege. The regime’s only probable alternative to deal with the current crisis and onslaught by business and the imperialists was to move towards expropriation of the main businesses that produce the necessities of life, in other words a state capitalist model similar to Cuba or North Korea. Instead the business elites in the regime led by Reserve Bank governor G. Gono, successfully fought the June 207 price freeze measures advocating for free market policies and bribes for the electorate through tractors, ploughs etc. Without the economic wherewithal the Zanu PF state remains weak and unable to meet the basic needs of the population. It is of course debatable whether under the current global political and economic environment, even a state capitalist model, would have saved the regime, rom a determined onslaught by the forces of global capital, as we see the retreat that regimes like Libya and N. Korea are now makng(
1 MDC (T) got 99 seats in the House of Assembly compared to 97 for Zanu PF, 10 MDC (Mutambara) and 1 Independent (Jonathan Moyo); and in Senate MDC (T) got 24 seats, Zanu PF 30 and MDC (Mutambara) 6. In terms of the popular vote for the House of Assembly, Zanu PF won 45.9 percent of the total vote, MDC (T), 42.8 and MDC (Mutambara) 8.3, and independents
– 2.7 percent. Of the ten provinces Zanu PF won in six provinces five absolutely, compared to MDC (T)`s four, two absolutely. These results were mirrored in Senate were Zanu PF won 45.4 percent of the popular vote, carrying six provinces, five absolutely, whilst MDC (T) won 43.5 percent, carrying four provinces, two absolutely .