A Strategic Opposition should never be a cry baby but should move away from the dependency syndrome type of politics, transform itself from activism into Statesmanship.
What you must understand is that you are dealing with a liberation movement that is backed by security apparatus, CIOs, MID, police, military and above all, political experience backdating to the 70s. Mnangagwa is not an ordinary leader, as many people think, he is military personnel, intelligence guru, who has led several ministries before and after independence, and a Strategic Opposition should go back to the drawing board to do the following ;
1. Accept reality, there is Leadership already in the country. Build politics from scratch, and go back and study the dynamics of politics.
2. There is a paradigm shift in Zim politics. Mugabe type of politics and ED’s worlds apart. These are two different types of men, though they worked together. ED indicates right, whilst he is turning left, he pretends as if he is asleep, yet he is awake, never underestimate him, he is fully in charge, but he pretends as if he has lost control, therefore, you need to study him and understand him before you strike. Where on earth have you seen someone being insulted left, right and centre, and he claps his hands?
3. Keep cards close to your chest
The problem with opposition, all your strategies are on Facebook, whatever you think of doing is posted on Facebook. Zanu PF has already studied that, and they are very comfortable to have opposition like you, they know you are easy to handle. They are in charge of you.
4. Winning elections is not in numbers but STRATEGY
You may have the numbers, but fail to assume Presidency. You have to study your political nemesis, and understands how it operates.
5. Resource mobilization
An effective opposition must have enough resources to counter the opponent’s moves and tactics, avert infiltration and manage and consolidate from within its file ranks. Honestly, how can an effective opposition campaign the whole country with less than 5000 t-shirts? Zanu PF has over 500 Million United States Dollars, against 2 Million USD
6. Turn Brands into Political dividend
The major problem with opposition supporters is that they are alover, they are excited with brands around them, you need to turn those political brands into dividends. Zanu PF is not intimidated by brands or noise made around town, Zanu PF is intimidated by strategy underground.
7. Study political matrix
Urban areas constitutes 35 % of the total population, and rural areas constitute 65 % of the total population. Moreover, in urban areas, which is the main strongholds of the opposition, it’s not everyone who goes to the polling stations to cast their votes, the majority of these who sing Tsvangirai Chete Chete, they will be roaming around in the streets, and some they go to cast their votes, some they don’t go, and this is a 50-50 situation, whilst in rural areas, it’s Sabhuku ne vanhu vake, and it’s 100 % total participation. In rural areas, it’s an issue if you fail to cast your vote.
8. Credible opposition thrives on Intelligence not guesswork
If you plan something in Zimbabwe, within 10 mins, Zanu PF will be aware, in opposition their plans are always open in the air, and anyone can get hold of them. Zanu PF thrives on Intelligence ( information), and this is how a political party survives
9. Accept Advisory & Complement other people’s efforts
One of the major areas which have led to the opposition’ failure to ascend to power is the blame game. Once you speak the truth, you are labelled a CIO operative, and if you attack their leader with constructive criticism, you are labelled tsakutsaku or mutengesi, roverai pasi.
10. Shelve confrontational politics
The ruling party has all the state machinery at its disposal. They can do anything to retain power or to fight back. You won’t lose anything by engaging or rather Strategic engagements
11. Turn your political Organizations into Commercial brands
You can’t just sit and say we don’t have money or resources, or wait for 2023 to source for finances. A party that got 2.6 million votes should not be suffering or failing to pay its workers or even to meet its obligation. Supposedly, you get a dollar from each person ( from the 2.6 million pool), which means every month you can get roughly 2 million USD, and you can purchase at least 15 vehicles per month for 2023, and rest into regalia, and the other chunk into investments like boutiques, saloons, youths projects etc
12. Modern politics is on the belly
Forget about the Chete Chete mantra, when it comes to modern-day politics, it’s all about eating, food. The general question is what do I get from this? The problem with opposition, they assume, everyone will vote for them, and they own people. This is a wrong calculation in politics. You have to work for votes, you cannot harvest where you did not sow. Today, Zanu PF has pfumvudza, Command Agriculture, Presidential inputs, War Vet fund etc, versus regalia of 5000 t-shirts. This does not work.
13. Lack of Investment in Research and Development
What happened in Malawi? What happened in Tanzania? What happened in Kenya? What happened in USA? Any delegation dispatched to those countries? How does opposition thrive in such harsh political environments? You need such case studies. Don’t assume you have won elections, you have to invest in Research and get an in-depth knowledge of modern politics particularly those with a liberation movements background
14. Politics, you must be ahead
Politics is dirty. It’s not a church, where people carry a bible. In politics, expect anything. You need to be ahead of your competitor. Be ready to strike, and study the dynamics, and the matrix must be able to give you good political indicators
15. Absence of background checks
In opposition politics, they just pick randomly, without proper checks and balances, if you study the on-going defections, it’s a result of picking cadres randomly, perhaps being attracted with money and many other factors, by the time they realize it, the damage will be huge on their Organization
16. Once results are announced its game over
This is where opposition parties don’t understand the matrix of politics. Whether rigging or not, once results are announced, no reverse, and you have to go back to the drawing board, and begin to work with what is available. Rigging claims which are done soon after the announcement, mainly it’s not a one-day event if rigging is there, it’s not a one-day event, it’s a process, that is if it exists, it’s not an overnight event. You can’t trace, because you spent time on social media, whilst the campaign is on the heat. Zanu PF, begin to campaign, two days after announcing election results.
Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is the Head of Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking – ZIST, and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org