Harare – Excelgate, a sensational book by exiled Jonathan Moyo on alleged vote-rigging in the 2018 presidential election threatens to derail Zimbabwe’s political dialogue, ENN reports. The expose’ is giving former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki a mediation headache after further widening the rift between Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa.

At the centre of Zimbabwe’s political crisis is the disputed 2018 presidential election which opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa claims was stolen from him by Zanu PF. Emmerson Mnangagwa claims he won the elections after securing 50.67% of the votes as declared by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).On 24 August 2018 Chief Justice Luke Malaba delivered a judgement to the 2018 presidential election results, endorsing Emmerson Mnangagwa as the president-elect. Zimbabwe’s 2018 presidential election results were soiled by ZEC’s figurative inconsistencies, ZEC’s late announcement of results, absence of signed verification forms from some polling stations, the alleged mal-function of a ZEC server, the use of Excel spread sheets to capture and collate election results, and the August 1 shootings which claimed six lives and injured many, a European Union election observer mission noted.     

With the emergence of fresh details on the disputed elections from Jonathan Moyo, a former ZANU PF elections strategist and a political expert, the 2018 Zimbabwe election wounds have been renewed and there is little trust left to foster genuine engagements between Nelson Chamisa and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

At the launch of Excelgate by Sapes Trust Zimbabwe in Harare on 12 December 2019, a group of hooligans alleged to be linked to the ruling party violently disrupted the event which was attended by several diplomats, indirectly giving signal to the world on the party’s fretfulness to Excelgate. The thugs disrupted again the postponed launch on the 17th of December 2019, after which a fake e-copy of Excelgate was circulated on social media platforms. The e-copy has been dismissed by Ibbo Mandaza as “fake”.

Excelgate was published by Sapes Trust Zimbabwe, a publishing house owned by Zimbabwean Ibbo Mandaza. Since its launch, Sapes Trust alleges that state media has tried to frustrate all available local distribution channels to sell the book in Zimbabwe.

Immediately after Mbeki’s Harare visit in December 2019, state media ran with the narrative that MDC Alliance will be joining POLAD, a coalition of Zimbabwe’s 2018 presidential election losers whose chairman is Emmerson Mnangagwa. Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance is yet to join POLAD, which it previously called a group of bootlickers. POLAD was formed by Emmerson Mnangagwa immediately after his 2018 presidential election victory. On his official twitter handle, Nelson Chamisa said Zimbabwe is in a deep political crisis, and MDC Alliance will not be joining POLAD as claimed by the state media. In reference to the significance of the Zimbabwe National Unity Day in Zimbabwe today, Nelson Chamisa said there is no unity in Zimbabwe. The National Unity Day is a brainchild of former president Robert Mugabe and former vice president Joshua Nkomo which ended a political impasse between Mugabe’s Zanu PF and Nkomo’ s ZAPU party in 1987 through the signing of the Unity Accord. Unity Day is observed in Zimbabwe on the 22nd of December annually. Nelson Chamisa went further to assert that true unity must resolve national problems, past atrocities and the ever widening inequalities threatening our society.

In contrast, Mnangagwa celebrated Unity Day by hosting POLAD, which is a coalition of some of the 2018 presidential election losers. In his Unity Day address, Mnangagwa commended former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki for coming to see leaders of leading political parties in Zimbabwe, in the process parading POLAD as a platform where every political party can find expression on issues affecting Zimbabwe. He ended his speech by saying, ‘I do not see it possible to have two platforms which discuss one issue’, shutting out possibilities of the touted direct political dialogue between himself and Nelson Chamisa. In 2008, Mugabe’s Zanu Pf and Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC engaged in an unconditional dialogue which led to the formation of a Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe on 13 February 2009.

It is unfortunate that as political bickering continues in Zimbabwe, every Zimbabwean is a loser. The country is confronted by an electricity crisis, a fuel crisis, a water crisis, a cash crisis, a health sector crisis, an insurance sector crisis, an education sector crisis and a food crisis, whose sustained remedy rests in the participation of the politically sensitive foreign investors in building Zimbabwe.

Whilst Jonathan Moyo’s Excelgate expose, the closure of democratic space for Chamisa’s MDC Alliance in Zimbabwe by government, political violence and the disputed 2018 presidential elections give MDC Alliance the reason to fear another Excelgate on any political dialogue held under the Mnangagwa chaired POLAD, the lack of feasible alternatives on the issue by Nelson Chamisa’s party continues to perpetuate Zimbabwe’s political, economic and social struggles.  On the other hand, if people’s lives are more important than politics and power, it will not take a minute for president Mnangagwa to agree to an unconditional political dialogue between his party and the MDC Alliance.  He can still keep his POLAD, but a dialogue with MDC Alliance will prove to the world that Zimbabwe is open for business and Mnangagwa has nothing to hide. Had SADC intervened in Zimbabwe earlier, many lives would have been saved and the political relations between Mnangagwa and Chamisa would not have deteriorated to this low level. Lastly, fear and a destructive mentality aside, Zimbabweans must learn to humbly speak truth to power, including the much talked about but least effective presidential advisory board.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe continues to burn!