Opposition must learn from past mistakes

Source: Opposition must learn from past mistakes – DailyNews Live

Eddie Zvinonzwa  13 July 2017

HARARE – Charles Maurice de Talleyrand’s remarks on the behaviour of the
Bourbon monarchy after their restoration following their ouster during the
French Revolution seem to aptly apply to opposition politics in Zimbabwe.

Talleyrand is famously quoted after the first fall of Napoleon Bonaparte
in 1814 and restoration of the French monarchy under Louis XVIII.

He felt they had “learnt nothing” about why one of their predecessors had
been the only French king (Louis VI) ever executed at the start of the
French Revolution and they “had forgotten nothing” about their appalling
conduct which had helped to spark the revolution in the first place.

After going into the trenches against Zanu PF around the turn of the
millennium, one would have thought Zimbabwean opposition political
parties, especially the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC, were now well aware of
the ruling party’s modus operandi as Zimbabwe inches towards yet another
election in 2018.

Indeed they seem to “have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing”. The five
years they spent in a shaky unity government with President Robert Mugabe,
Tsvangirai’s MDC – together with the smaller faction led by Welshman Ncube
– failed to take advantage of their time in the unity government to fight
for key reforms they are now clamouring for.

Zanu PF is very good at its game and has all these years been working to
perfect their modus operandi. There is no denying that they are very good
at ambushing their rivals and current goings-on point to the fact that
Mugabe may proclaim election dates earlier than expected.

It is obviously very difficult to tell what Mugabe is going to do next but
perhaps what is playing out seems to be fears over his health and age.

Keen observers of Zimbabwe’s political trends seem to point to the fact
that Africa’s oldest leader, and the only one Zimbabweans have known since
independence from the British, may want to contest the elections and then
hand over power to his preferred successor after the 2018 polls.

This can only be guaranteed if he continues playing one faction against
the other between, on the one hand, the Generation 40 – fronted by
Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao –
who are rabidly opposed to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over
the reins from Mugabe and Team Lacoste who prefer to have the Midlands
godfather post-Mugabe.

Today, Zanu PF seems to enjoy the haggling in opposition parties over who
should lead the mooted grand coalition with the two main players,
Tsvangirai and former Vice President Joice Mujuru apparently signalling
different intentions.

Perhaps what the opposition might have been doing now is to reach out to
the electorate selling their ideas so that come 2018, they can claim a
victory that has been elusive since 2000.

Economic conditions in the country, meanwhile, reflect a tired Zanu PF
that has run out of ideas to turn around the fortunes of the country,
which has hopped from one crisis to the other over the past 37 years.

This could have provided the opposition with pertinent campaign cards.

However, they do not seem to be thinking along those lines as they spent
valuable time seeking electoral reforms they have been told may not come
at all.

Mugabe has a clear advantage over the opposition – the power of incumbency
– which allows him access to State apparatus as well as resources. There
is no way he will implement reforms that will give the opposition leverage
to elbow him out of power.

The opposition must accurately read the political barometer and possibly
even come up with scenarios Zanu PF may want try out.

Victory in elections can only be ensured through winning over the voters,
a phenomenon the MDC and its colleagues in the opposition do not seem to

Opposition politicians must wake up and smell the coffee.