via Divided opposition will always fall – DailyNews Live 11 August 2015 by Conrad Nyamutata
LONDON – For all its authoritarian tendencies, the Zanu PF regime has allowed political pluralism.
Since abandoning the idea of a one-party State, as long as one meets the basic requirements, they can form a political party.
From the pitifully unsophisticated Egypt Dzinemunhenzva to the savvier Simba Makoni, a disaffected former senior Zanu PF official.
The latest to join or re-join the fray is Margaret Dongo, no less politically pedigreed and rebellious.
A former liberation war fighter now a strident Zanu PF critic and president of the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (Zud), Dongo announced she will now be leading a new outfit, the Movement for People First (MPF).
The occasional emergences of political parties like the MPF have been celebrated as the democratisation of the political space. To speak against such manifestations equates to denigrating a venerated idiom because pluralism is equated to democracy.
But the truth is that pluralism and democracy bear no equivalence. A society can have multiple parties without democracy.
President Robert Mugabe does not lose sleep over the formation of rival political parties: while fulfilling normative expectations of political pluralism, he ensures the democratic space does not create threats to his hold on power.
Revelling in this vacuous pluralism, challengers of Mugabe form ineffective parties that do not threaten his rule.
The troubling thing is that the opposition parties do not have any significant or noticeable ideological differences among them to justify separate political identities when they can be stronger in unity.
One the one hand you have the MDCs, the “renewalists” in their various guises, and the NCA. One cannot identify variances in ideology among them, let alone historical origin.
For their common emphasis on civil liberties and human rights, we could call them the “liberals.”
On the other hand, you have Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zapu, Makoni’s Mavambo, and now Dongo’s MPF. Soon we could have another outfit led by former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Again, these have the same genealogy and ideological inclinations. They are all aggrieved former “liberators” victimised by Zanu PF in one way or another.
Yet again, it is easy to see that a single party of the former liberators, comprising Mujuru and colleagues, Dabengwa, Makoni and Dongo would present a far more frightening challenge to Zanu PF.
Clearly, we have here two ideological camps that have the potential to coalesce into two stronger entities to challenge Zanu PF hegemony.
The liberals could easily constitute or reconstitute a single powerful party instead of the current five; and the former liberators, the four into one.
One could take the argument further that, apart from origin, the differences between the liberals and liberators themselves are scant.
Stripped of all other familiar promises, they all gravitate towards the same objective of seeking to remove Mugabe from power.
Melding the two groups might be difficult; but there is certainly room for only two stronger parties from both ideological camps.
This can only eventuate if politicians decide to work in the national rather than personal interest that seems to motivate the epidemic of political party formations.
Political pluralism without effect is hopeless and self-defeating.
We seem content with the ruse of unfettered pluralism that allows us to form parties but does not translate into true democracy; for real democracy always creates room for possible change of government.
The benefit of stronger parties does not necessarily lie in defeating Mugabe at the polls but in collective confrontation in the face of the usual prospect of stolen elections.
If Mugabe’s challengers seek democratic change, they need to stop forming weak parties but single strong ones where ideological differences barely exist.
Evidently, there is hardly any tangible differences between the two existing opposition camps.
United, they can mobilise, challenge chicanery, possibly dislodge Mugabe from power or at least, force some change.
Divided they will always “lose” and go back to leading disparate and ineffective groups.