Apparently politcal shenanigans are global. President Mugabe had ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years. However, when polling began, so did the cheating. Mugabe’s presidency got smacked by rigged elections and violence against political opponents. Then, In November 2017, President Mugabe is outed in a military coup led by Mugabe’s former Vice-President Mnangagwa, setting the stafe for a crucial election between coup leader and opposition leader. The popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is seen as the favorite to win, but with less than four months before the election, Tsvangirai succumbs to cancer. A fresh, young 40-year old lawyer, Nelson Chamisa, who has been fighting Mugabe’s regime since his student activist day, takes over as president of the opposition party running agains Mnangagwa. As the election is underway, results are being posted outside each polling station as the official counting is in completion. When the election results become questionable, Zimbabwians take to the streets in protest, where many are injured and six people murdered.
Directed by Camila Nielsson, PRESIDENT proves that stealing elections seems to be a global pandemic…literally. With politicians letting empty promises tumble out of their mouths with little no intention of delivering. Zimbabwe’s system of corruption and electoral fraud is deeply entrenched revealing mind-boggling insights into the mechanisms of a democracy crumbling at the seams. Nielsson does not shy away from any detail while conveying how dangerous and manipulative politicians can be when wanting to win by any means necessary. As she captures the guilty looks of the Zimbabwian Election Commission as they clearly lie through their teeth or those images of a woman face down, shoes off, still clutching her purse with a bullet in her back or the male teen with backpack and a trail of blood streaming in the streets as he’s found sideways laying in his own blood left me cold and saddened. Not to mention the gross injustice going down when moments before entering court, the opposition’s legal team (From South Africa) is not allowed to enter nor bring laptops, phones or tablets (which contain most of their defense materials) into the building. Watching them scramble to build a last minute game plan was frustrating and annoying to watch, as it reminded me of moments in America where mailboxes and polling places were removed or relocated to prevent an honest election.
At the end of the day, what is really on trial here is democracy, dripped with greed and bureaucratic control. Here’e hoping thorugh films such as these, citizens across the globe learnt to speak up, speak out and teach those governing to do better before the world finds itself navigating within a totalitarian existence in which freedom or choice or voice is non-existent.