Renowned political analyst Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya says opposition movements often boycott rigged polls rather than risk legitimizing an autocrat by participating in unfair elections.

He says, in a book titled “How to Compete in Unfair Elections,” Alyena Batura explains why that is a mistake and sketches a playbook for how to seize the advantage.

Ruhanya’s comments comes few months before the much anticipated polls to be held between July and August this year.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Chamisa is on record calling on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to speedily implement electoral reforms in order to avert another disputed election this year.

Chamisa made the same demands in the capital Harare when he launched his party’s electoral reforms blueprint document which sets out seven milestones for electoral reform.

According to him, the ideal conditions for a free and fair election in Zimbabwe do not exist and they are demanding urgent action.

“We have learnt that from 2018 when we had the election observer mission reports and other critical election bodies sharing their perspectives on our election, we have been unfortunate that insufficient work has been done. There hasn’t been any appetite to reform and correct all the boxes.

“The reports were clear and they had recommendations on what needed to be done to move our country forward but if you look at it not a single thing has been done,” he said.

Chamisa once threatened to boycott the polls before changing his mind saying he can’t surrender his field to marauding baboons and he is now calling for external supervision of the next election.

“Zanu PF must be the last ones to complain about the United Nations running or supervising the elections in this country because in 1980 we asked them to do it on our behalf and the United Nations did a perfect job so it’s not something new, it’s not something bizarre,” Chamisa explains.

However, with elections just few months away, it is highly unlikely that there will be any substantial reforms undertaken ahead of the 2023 polls.

The Zimbabwean electorate is now trapped between a rock and a hard place.

In that vein, Chamisa recently met the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) on the political, security and legal framework in the country. He emphasized the need for an agreed clean voters’ roll, diaspora vote, real time announcement of results and citizens security among other things.

SEAC is in Zimbabwe to access the country’s readiness to hold free and fair elections, and will issue a report in the coming few days on its findings.

On the other hand, President Mnangagwa says as it stands, the country is more than ready for free and fair elections. Mnangagwa sees no need for reforms, as according to him the current environment is more than good for free and fair elections.

“My government has put measures in place to ensure free, fair and credible elections. We must all say, ‘No to violence,’ before, during, and after elections,” Mnangagwa said in his message to celebrate Independence Day on Tuesday last week.

But another renowned political analyst Elder Mabhunu disagrees with Mnangagwa while at the same time says Chamisa has limited choices in as far as calling for the implementation of reforms is concerned, than to take part under the current environment.

“Mnangagwa is not interested in making reforms that would remove him from power. He loves the current environment which gives him unfair advantage.

“On the other hand, Chamisa should focus on campaigning vigorously across all the corners of Zimbabwe, so that he reduces Mnangagwa’s chances to rig the polls,” he says.

Most importantly Mabhunu says Chamisa has to deploy poll agents everywhere so that in the case of disputed election outcome, he can prove rigging evidence in court.

“When Chamisa dragged Mnangagwa to court after the 2018 polls, he reportedly lacked evidence in court because some of the polling had no representatives for him,” adds Mabhunu.

He also contends that Chamisa should bank on the shortcomings of Zanu PF and preach alternative solutions to the country’s problems.

On the streets of the capital, Harare, Zimbabweans say they seek a government that would help alleviate their daily struggles. They are betting that this year’s polls will usher in economic growth.