The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC) hosted a Public Dialogue titled: “The Post-Mortem of the 2018 Zimbabwean Elections”. The dialogue took place on 30 August 2018 at the Kingsway Library.
The chair of the dialogue was Professor David Moore, from the UJ Department of Anthropology and Development Studies. The key speakers at the event were; Dr Simba Makoni, former Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and President of Mavambo Kusile Dawn party; Ms. Everjoice Win, International Director Programmes and Global Engagement at ActionAid; and Mr. Brian Kagoro, a Zimbabwean human rights lawyer.
Professor Moore initiated the dialogue by providing a background of the political environment in Zimbabwe and shared his personal experiences from the country. He said that the people he spoke to were very happy and joyous before the elections but thereafter it was not the same. He illustrated the situation of the post-election atmosphere with a picture in which a police official was hitting a protester with a baton during the riot that broke after the announcement of the election results.
Dr. Simba Makoni spoke of the political journey of Zimbabwe. “The struggle to freedom wasn’t just a struggle of freedom for Zimbabweans; it was a struggle for dignity and self-respect for all Africans.” He added that Zimbabwe has a history of uncontested elections and suggested that the recent elections were unfair and uncontested as well.
“In Zimbabwe, if riots are getting out of hand, we use the riot police for a firmer hand. When the conditions worsen, only then, we deploy the military, not immediately, but people were shot and killed with live ammunition.”
He further added that during his time, President Thabo Mbeki sent officials to Zimbabwe to conduct an investigation on the elections. A report was compiled but no official statement was given out about that investigation. Dr. Simba Makoni ended his discussion by saying “I believe we can conclude that the elections that took place in Zimbabwe were not free nor fair.
Thereafter Ms Everjoice Win spoke about the liberation movements in Africa and the importance of good organising. “We are all familiar on how the end of apartheid came and how the liberation movements here contributed to the changes we have seen in the rest of the African continent. She said that it is through organising and face-to-face conversation with people for a greater good, that we see such change in this region.
She also said that some of the opposition movements particularly in Zimbabwe are not taking into consideration the heart and minds of the people. Not enough has been invested in terms of having a deep valuable conversation.” Elections could be a moment of hope and renewal; it is also an opportunity for change and according to me that change does not lie in just one particular opposition party, “concluded Ms. Win.
The conversation gave the public a detailed explanation of the elections that took place in Zimbabwe. It illustrated the gravity of the post-election situation with graphic pictures taken during the riots.