The Case for Robert Mugabe’s Seventh Term — in Campaign Ads

With Zimbabwe’s presidential election set to get underway on Wednesday, speculation is building about whether the country’s long-suffering opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, will finally have its day. In the absence of rigorous opinion polls, Reuters notes, the election result appears to depend "on whether [President Robert] ...

ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images
ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images
ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images

With Zimbabwe's presidential election set to get underway on Wednesday, speculation is building about whether the country's long-suffering opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, will finally have its day.

In the absence of rigorous opinion polls, Reuters notes, the election result appears to depend "on whether [President Robert] Mugabe's control of the state media and security forces, the loyalty of independence war veterans and rural voters, and alleged irregularities with the voters' register, are enough to secure Africa's oldest leader another five years in power." Why, you might ask, would anyone want to vote for the 89-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for the past three decades?

As the campaign has kicked into high gear in recent weeks, Team ZANU-PF, an organization claiming to be the official social media arm for Mugabe's campaign, has been offering some answers in the form of a series of biting and, at times, utterly bizarre ads posted to YouTube. ("Our internal polling analysis points to a landslide victory for President Mugabe," the group boasted on Facebook on Tuesday. "Victory is certain.") Without further ado, here, according to Team ZANU-PF, are some types of voters who might choose Mugabe over Tsvangirai.

With Zimbabwe’s presidential election set to get underway on Wednesday, speculation is building about whether the country’s long-suffering opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, will finally have its day.

In the absence of rigorous opinion polls, Reuters notes, the election result appears to depend "on whether [President Robert] Mugabe’s control of the state media and security forces, the loyalty of independence war veterans and rural voters, and alleged irregularities with the voters’ register, are enough to secure Africa’s oldest leader another five years in power." Why, you might ask, would anyone want to vote for the 89-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for the past three decades?

As the campaign has kicked into high gear in recent weeks, Team ZANU-PF, an organization claiming to be the official social media arm for Mugabe’s campaign, has been offering some answers in the form of a series of biting and, at times, utterly bizarre ads posted to YouTube. ("Our internal polling analysis points to a landslide victory for President Mugabe," the group boasted on Facebook on Tuesday. "Victory is certain.") Without further ado, here, according to Team ZANU-PF, are some types of voters who might choose Mugabe over Tsvangirai.

1. Women who disapprove of 60-year-old men dumping their girlfriends by text message

2. Voters looking for a leader who won’t embarrass them on the world stage

3. Zimbabweans who don’t want a leader with a dirty mouth

4. People in search of a leader who won’t bring sanctions upon the country

5. Those who believe that Robert Mugabe is a "fearless leader" in the company of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, Julius Nyerere, and Kwame Nkrumah, and that Tsvangirai is no Nelson Mandela

To sum up: Zimbabweans are looking for "dignity," "character," and the "fear of god" in their president. That sounds like Robert Mugabe, right?

Neha Paliwal is the Editorial Assistant for Democracy Lab.

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