Charles Mabhena|

As a person who does not frequently write opinion pieces, I didn’t know what to write about at first, until my five year old daughter stole my attention; “Ooh! Look Daddy it’s not fair, Tom is cheating, when he poured milk in his on the table, but when he poured into Jerry’s jar he lifted it up so that the milk appears to be at the same level as his,” she said commenting on the popular cartoon show Tom and Jerry.

I being the father she expected me to reprimand the act right away, so she demanded an answer from me as to why Tom acted in such a deceitful manner, and all I could tell her was that what he did is common whenever a dishonest person is in control of the feast.

Anyway, that was Tom and Jerry fiction, bringing the issue home, President Robert Mugabe is going to surprise the whole world when he resoundingly romps to victory come 2018; this is so because he is currently polishing the stage, as he makes sure the conditions that resulted in him winning the 2013 pools either remain the same or are further modified to his greatest advantage in 2018.

Despite the public outcry on reforms, he is not going to initiate any changes sooner or later; ‘no party under the sun can reform itself out of power’ one of his educated cronies confessed recently.

This will be the repeat of the 2013 elections, when all predicted Morgan Tsvangirai’s victory, Mugabe used his tricks book to reverse the people’s will and claimed the throne using unorthodox means. He has mastered the trick of stealing the baton stick right under the oppositions’ noses.

Opposition parties may be dreaming if they think that only by joining hands, they can collectively amass support and win the election. Without dismantling the system, an opposition win is mere wishful thinking. When opposition parties failed to beat Mugabe before, it wasn’t because there were a shortage of voters in the country to ensure their victory, neither was it because less people voted for them. It was simply because ZANU had its fingers on the control lever.

Even if the Diaspora communities are made to vote today, as long as Mugabe is in the control of the whole system that runs the elections, that intimidate voters, that enforce people’s disappearances, that counts and announces the winner, that give food along partisan lines, that … you name it, he can still rig the Diaspora votes with ease, stands on the podium with his head well above his shoulders, and declares himself a winner.

Tsvangirai should not be made to think that he lost because of that there were not enough voters in the country to send him to state house; even if he got the allegedly 73 percent of the votes he still lost the election, why? One may ask and the answer is simple, because of the system in place. He did not lost it because there were few voters in the country, even if there were only 100 people in Zimbabwe and an election is conducted on equal footing someone can legitimately win it still.

Opposition parties in Zimbabwe seem to have seen a bit of light now as they talk of uniting forces against their common enemy, but caution have to be taken so that they are not blinded into thinking that unity is the major reason why they failed in the past.

It is also good that civic organisations and other concerned groups and political parties have of late started making noise about the playing field being uneven. This is where the trick lies, if Mugabe is left with the whistle that he currently wields, or the red pen to mark his own examination, then come 2018 his victory is guaranteed, and again he will smile all the way back to state house for the 13th time in a row.

MDC-T co-vice President Elias Mudzuri told his party supporters soon after the party’s anniversary held recently that it was high time that opposition parties close ranks and expose Mugabe’s vote rigging antics, as that had been his avenue to claim poll victories over the years.

He said over the years ZANU PF had gotten away with it because the proof had not been convincing. He castigated the shambolic voters roll, defective electoral laws and biased electoral management, among other ills.

Mudzuri warned; “Even if the ruling party accedes to all electoral laws reforms, the outcome of any future elections will reflect those of the past if the conduct of the process is not reformed to give rural electorate their constitutional right to freely cast their vote.”

The MDC co-vice president said in 2008 the electoral laws and voters roll was not as shambolic as in 2013, this simply means Mugabe is the habit of adding more and more elements to the system that facilitates his victory, rather than levelling the playing field thereby lessening his chances of winning.

The point I am trying to drive home is not that Tsvangirai shouldn’t unite with Mujuru or any other parties, he in fact should, as it is good to do so, but, if he let the current environment that tips the balance in favour of Mugabe to continue to prevail, then he is bound to lose despite the unity, and the results would read; Tsvangirai, Mujuru and friends 37, Mugabe and ZANU PF 73, followed by state media headlines ‘Mugabe wins 2018 presidential elections resoundingly.’

Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tendai Biti confessed last week that the current system was designed in a way that favours Mugabe and his party when it comes to election time. He says for years ZANU PF has managed to win elections not on the moral grounds of being popular, but through playing with figures, voter intimidation, and manipulation of outcomes to their advantage.

Biti says even though executive power itself which is vested in the people, and is exercised through the President, have been used or misused by our President for his own benefit.

“Our main struggle at the moment must be centred on unpacking the systems that the ruling party is using in order to rig polls. The past 12 elections that were held in Zimbabwe since independence failed to bring change because of the system that Mugabe and his party employ to steal the votes and end up winners,” says Biti.

Mugabe is now well known for being a forgiver who doesn’t forget. He can shout during the day, while standing on a raised platform for everyone to hear that he has forgiven someone, while at the same time brood evil intentions over it and stealthily visit the person during the night with a sword.