Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: David’s courage sought! | The Financial Gazette February 2, 2017
THE Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party had a baptism of fire in its first election in Bikita West about a fortnight ago following its humiliating loss to ZANU-PF.
We had earlier warned that the party would have a rude awakening in Bikita because ZANU-PF was desperate to send a clear message to those who were pinning their hopes on Joice Mujuru’s party in the 2018 elections to forget and smile.
Before the polls, Heal Zimbabwe, a human rights watchdog, had recorded 57 human rights violations as the ruling party turned to its traditional methods of coercing the electorate to vote for its candidate.
These included assault, vote-buying, partisan distribution of aid, forced attendance to rallies, destruction of campaign material, hate speech, disruption of rallies, and threats issued to voters and candidates.
Notwithstanding the fact that that ZPF’s top cabal was previously part of the heavyweights in ZANU-PF until their unceremonious dismissal from the party in 2014, the new kid on the bloc was clobbered nonetheless.
What happened in Bikita West should serve as a wake-up call to all opposition parties in Zimbabwe that until they have devised methods to counter ZANU-PF’s chicanery, they may as well forget about victory at the 2018 polls.
Tendai Biti, who was the secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) when it went into the unity government in 2009, but is now leading the People’s Democratic Party, said last week that the ZANU-PF machinery would be difficult to beat in the absence of a coalition.
“Thought leadership would be the only hope for Zimbabwe to claw back and recapture the election. Political parties, social movements, civic society and labour, need to come together and continue the resistance of 2016, resistance must, among other issues, be for media and electoral reforms including the demand to exercise the right to vote by those in the Diaspora,” said Biti.
With ZANU-PF ruling out the electoral reforms being clamoured for by their revivals, the playing field will continue to be unfavourable to the opposition parties.
The best opportunity the opposition had to level the playing field was during the unity government when apart from sharing power, they also had a numerical advantage in the National Assembly, but that golden opportunity went begging as the MDC formations fell for the trappings of power.
Nonetheless, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the larger formation of the MDC, who was Prime Minister during the inclusive government era, thinks he still commands a huge social base capable of bringing about the change he has been desperate for since 1999 when his party was formed.
It is only a fool who keeps doing the same things over and over again, but still expecting a different outcome.
We can only hope that Mujuru and her ZPF have learnt useful lessons from their poor showing in Bikita West and that Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party would come back to their senses before it is too late.
The opposition parties in Zimbabwe need each other to confront the menacing goliath of local politics — ZANU-PF.
It is only when they are together that they can be favoured with the courage of David to deal with this monolith