Gift Phiri 12 March 2018
HARARE – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has said there are 107
political parties running for the 2018 elections comprising largely an
assortment of small parties.
That might seem harmless, but in the strange, convoluted netherworld of
Zimbabwean politics, a lot of the minor parties are useless and
mysterious. They crowd the ballot, convolute the debate and confuse the
Some opposition parties claim many of these are a creation of Zanu PF.
What makes this system especially confounding is that we are having 107
political parties in a $4bn GDP economy, when a $19,7 trillion United
States economy, for instance, has just two political parties.
Look at mature democracies such as the US and United Kingdom, they have a
two-way or three-way party system respectively. Surely, 107 parties is
far too many for a small country like this.
The kaleidoscope of Zimbabwe’s current political scene – with dozens of
largely minute political parties in the running alongside the major
parties – can’t be democracy in action, hell no!
Why all these separate parties in the first place? Our problems arise out
of an absence of a philosophy towards convergence. Politics has become a
business model, a private limited venture. Everyone who fails in business
tries a hand in politics.
Zimbabwean parliamentarians must now enact laws to cap the number of
parties that can contest the election, say a maximum of five to make the
ballot less of a muddle.
Can you imagine a ballot with 107 political parties? How many pages will
that be? This is unprecedented.
Surely, we need to galvanise the support into a few political parties.
Looking closely at these parties, it seems they are all pushing for a
common set of interests or ideologies. It means they can be slashed to a
maximum of five major national parties.
From the interviews of presidential candidates conducted by the Daily News
so far, it seems they share similar objectives and ideologies and must
merge, align or forge an alliance purposely to reduce the number and to be
more effective. Besides, too many political parties serve no purpose
except to confuse the electorate.
Meanwhile, the traditional parties have been riven by internal discord and
breakaway members, suffering elite dis-cohesion from the ruling party to
the major opposition parties.
With this multiplicity of parties, it is a fait accompli that a fragmented
result is inevitable, and a one-party absolute majority remains virtually
out of the question, meaning we are headed for a run-off election.
Given the 2008 run-off scenario where we witnessed widespread and
systematic abuses that led to the killing of up to 200 people, the beating
and torture of 5 000 more, and the displacement of about 36 000 people,
this prospect is just too ghastly to contemplate.
And this crowded ballot paper also risk producing a “hung Parliament” or
a situation in which no one wins an overall majority and whoever ends up
trying to form a government has to rely on a formal or informal agreement
of support from another party to govern.
These 107 parties must simply do pacts and deals to produce coalitions
instead of them fighting all out for a win in the mid-year election.
The parties we have interviewed so far have snapped with indignation at
proposals to form a coalition. In fact, most of the presidential
candidates we have interviewed in our series of interviews view with
condescension the complex and often lengthy horse-trading required to form
In conclusion, it is clear the immense flaw in the Zimbabwean electoral
process is the wide array of candidates, all touting themselves as viable
Zimbabwe doesn’t need to open itself to fly-by-night candidates by adding
more parties to appease dissatisfied voters. There is an easier answer.
Simply put, Zimbabwe doesn’t need more parties. If anything, it needs more