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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 2:33 am 
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The presidential results are out! Emmerson Mnangagwa officially won 50.8% of the vote, thus avoiding a run-off election by point-eight percent; Nelson Chamisa won 44.3% of the vote.

The MDC isn't happy with these election results, though exactly what they'll do about it has not yet been announced. I expect they'll start by calling for a recount, at the very least.

There's a fair amount of tension.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:11 pm 
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The unrest is unfortunate. But, for a place like Zimbabwe to have such a close election is a positive step none the less. (I assume Mugabe was the type who typically won with 99% of the vote?) Of course, that assumes the incumbent would have stepped down had he lost, which he may not have.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:19 pm 
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Mugabe might have wished for that sort of margin. Elections near the end of his era were certainly known for having people suspected of wanting to vote for the opposition beaten by roving bands of thugs, fairly blatant and obvious fraud in a number of ways, not letting international observers in - and, on at least one occasion, still managing to lose. (He pretty much just pushed through it and held onto power anyway; I think he managed to change that into still retaining half of government, somehow).

Mnanangwa's election is at least free of that. Voters appear to have been able to cast their votes in peace (the violence only broke out after the election), international observers have been permitted, and there's no obvious cheating going on.

Whether or not there's less obvious cheating going on is a more complicated story. Chamisa claims that there is, and more than that, he claims that he has proof (which he's not showing to anyone yet, but he says he totally has it). But that might just be because he lost.

And... honestly, pre-election polls had Mnangagwa at 53% to 55% of the vote. So 50.8% is a very believable number. On the other hand... Mnangagwa is a thinker. A planner. A strategist. If he were to cheat, I get the impression that there wouldn't be any obvious signs of cheating.

On the bright side, despite the post-election violence, this is actually a whole lot better than Zimbabwe's previous elections. So, yeah, definite step forward... and hopefully the rest of the unrest will simmer down over the next few weeks or so.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:03 pm 
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LOL that's how you know you're a dictator: When you lose the election and still manage to stay in power.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:20 pm 
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This is very worrying. The most basic requirement of democracy is that all sides respect the outcome of elections. More than anything else, democracy is a mechanism for the peaceful transfer of power between competing parties. If you didn't have elections, you would have to have coups. And if elections are seen as fraudulent and there is no way of resolving this then you rapidly slide back into violence.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:09 am 
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Fortunately, Mugabe can't do that anymore (there was a coup, and it actually had a lower casualty rate than this last election (six casualties in the post-election violence), and it leaves Mugabe with what looks like slightly less chance of becoming Zimbabwean President than Trump has). And while there is some disagreement with regards to the results, all the leaders concerned are urging people to not protest violently, so as far as that goes things seem to be quieting down.

As far as adherence to results goes, I'd put this at more or less at the level of the 2000 U.S. Election but with more people protesting in the streets. That is, there's a lot of sound and fury and calls for lawyers to challenge the results, but the guy who won the very close race is looking like he's going to end up being the President until the next election (though the race was close enough that there is a small chance that a recount or similar might change things).

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:28 am 
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Usually the best for a transition period between dictatorship is a sort of power sharing agreement.

Because if a government (regardless if former dictators or former opposition) in such a situation acts on the "you lost, so shut up" principle, it is taking it's first tiny step towards a new dictatorship. And an opposition that expects such a reaction, will have unfortunate counterreactions.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:55 am 
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Well, things have certainly calmed down a little - or, at least, people aren't rioting in the streets anymore. Largely (I imagine) because the last time they did, the army got deployed and six people died.

Mind you, there are still legal challenges and the question of the legitimacy of the elections to deal with. The legitimacy of the elections is very important, because the economy of Zimbabwe is still very much broken and is going to take a lot to fix; in short, the best way to fix the Zimbabwean economy is to get foreign aid and pretty much reconstruct it from the ground up. And foreign aid is only going to turn up if it's quite clear that the repressive, autocratic Mugabe-era politics are over.

Now, it isn't quite clear whether or not there was any overt cheating in this election. (There was a certain tilting of the playing field - Mnangagwa had (and used) access to a number of propaganda channels that Chamisa had no access to (such as the state newspaper), for example).

One gets the impression that a lot of people are pretty much waiting to see what happens next. It's a watchful silence. But - for the moment - things seem to have quietened down.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:46 pm 
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Good to hear that things are calming down. I don't think that Mnangagwa has to adhere meaningful democratic reforms to get foreign aid though, he just has to not be crazy. Foreign governments and investors are usually perfectly happy to deal with autocratic rulers as long as they aren't the insane, unstable, economy-destroying type of autocratic ruler.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:22 am 
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Kea wrote:
Good to hear that things are calming down. I don't think that Mnangagwa has to adhere meaningful democratic reforms to get foreign aid though, he just has to not be crazy. Foreign governments and investors are usually perfectly happy to deal with autocratic rulers as long as they aren't the insane, unstable, economy-destroying type of autocratic ruler.


Valid point. I don't think any international observers would have blinked too hard at mere vote manipulation... but winning an election without vote manipulation would look even better for Mnangagwa (because it implies that the average man-on-the-street is happy to have him in charge).

However, I think that the thing that most tarnished his reputation was his response to the post-election violence. Sending in the army to deal with what turns out to have been a police problem implies a certain lack of foresight, and foreign investors are going to want someone with foresight in charge if they're going to invest in the country.

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 Post subject: Re: A Very Quiet Coup
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:45 am 
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Well, things have certainly taken a turn for the worse in Zimbabwe. First of all, it seems the death toll has gone up from six to seven (I imagine that someone who was injured in the original riot has since succumbed to his injuries, but I don't really have any idea). Second, it seems that the army has been going around beating up people suspected of voting for the opposition (after instead of during the elections). The official line from Mnangagwa is that this is all being done by people who were Mugabe supporters and are trying to make Mnangagwa look bad, to which the obvious question is "well if you don't agree with it, then why haven't you stopped it?" It seems that Mnangagwa is either supportive of the violence, or not in nearly as much control as he pretends.

And then there's the question of ballot tampering. In short, people have noticed a number of... let us say, strange results in the official ballot figures. Apparently five polling stations had more votes cast than voters registered, and there are a number of polling stations which returned exactly the same results as each other, down to the last decimal point (which has been referred to as 'statistically unlikely').

Apparently Chamisa has to have his legal application in front of the high court by today, and they then have two weeks to make a decision. I can't imagine that Chamisa would take any risk of missing this deadline...

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