Misanet.com / Daily News, 16 March - The muted election "victory" celebrations for President Mugabe are not accidental. They stem from three fundamental concerns: embarrassment; sudden realisation of the magnitude of the mess they sowed during the past two years, but which they must now deal with; and how to explain the difference in voting patterns for the presidential and mayoral and municipal elections.
The manner in which Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF conducted their campaign suggested they wanted to inflict maximum damage before his exit so that whoever was to take over would be faced with a monumental task of trying to undo the damage Mugabe and Zanu PF would have created.
It was part of their strategy that whoever takes over would be unable to deal with the crisis created by the outgoing administration that at the next parliamentary election due in 2005 they would be voted out because of failing to deal decisively with the mess left behind by Zanu PF.
Zanu PF would play this up as indicative of the failure of their successor. They also counted on people yearning for the past whenever there is never-ending crisis. They are doing that in Somalia and did that in Zambia during Frederick Chiluba's term.
Inclusion of ID numbers has always been a requirement in the past. This loophole could have allowed the estimated 70,000 members of the uniformed forces to vote more than twice, first by postal ballot, and secondly in the areas they were assigned during the polling period.
But Mugabe cannot urge the nation to "beat swords into ploughshares," which he resorted to after his 1980 victory, because even that call won't have a ring of sincerity to it, and even if it did, few would be taken in by it.
The delay in Mugabe's reaction to his "victory" has to do with how he will now handle the issue of price controls. Price controls were a convenient campaign platform, but they cannot continue in place because the commodities will simply become unavailable since it is not a viable approach to manage an economy.
Mugabe and Zanu PF had hoped on a successor administration taking over after the election and then removing the price controls they would have appeared heartless and insensitive to the plight of the majority.
But now it is Zanu PF which has to make the painful decision of confronting the fallacy inherent in price controls and scrapping them probably the first campaign promise to be broken by Zanu PF.
Zanu PF's dilemma is also having to deal with the impending closure of more companies. The government has no capacity to take over and run factories and companies which close down because of a hostile and uneconomic environment.
The performance of most of its parastatal companies such as the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe United Passenger Company, Grain Marketing Board and the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority and even Jongwe, its party company, provides eloquent proof of the government's incompetence at running businesses.
Mugabe now also has to deal with the lawlessness he sanctioned and condoned during the past two years. It will be a challenge to see if he has the courage to put his foot down.
Another hurdle he must overcome is how to obtain international recognition and legitimacy of the outcome of the presidential election and embark on confidence building measures so critical in attracting foreign investment that is very crucial in tackling the 70 percent unemployment rate.
There are many immediate challenges he must face and one of the pressing ones is the hunger that is stalking the country's population. He has made his bed. Now he must prepare to lie on it.