Maxwell Sibanda, ASSISTANT EDITOR 10 July 2017
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s opposition political party leaders must breakdown the
Zanu PF mould of conceiving power which is centralised in the presidency
as this makes the post very much coveted, social and political analysts’
The comments arise from the bickering and jostling among opposition
political parties on who should lead the mooted grand coalition.
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC believes its leader is the natural leader of the
coalition while Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party believes the former
vice president of Zimbabwe has the might to lead the coalition. There are
others like Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti who lead separate political
outfits as well as Nkosana Moyo and like Tsvangirai and Mujuru have
ambitions to lead the coalition as well although their chances are slim.
The Daily News sought comments from a number of analysts on the proposed
grand coalition of opposition political parties.
Political commentator Maxwell Saungweme said: “With an even playfield and
free and fair elections chances are high for MDC (Tsvangirai) to win
without a coalition. So they actually don’t need a coalition to win.
“But given lack of reforms and uneven playfield the MDC or a coalition of
opposition parties will be rigged out and still lose. So it’s tomfoolery
for opposition parties to squabble over spoils they will not get. Focus
should be coalescing to create needed political crisis and advocacy for
reforms. Once reforms are there go to an election.”
Saungweme added that a coalition will be required to protect the people’s
vote in case Zanu PF intends to manipulate results. “Current calls by
opposition for coalition and power sharing are premature. It’s sad and a
political tragedy. They are disagreeing not on strategy to dislodge Zanu
PF but for power which they do have. It’s a charade.”
Former broadcaster and peace activist Jestina Mukoko said: “The coalition
in my view might not see the light of day. What I see is that there is too
much at stack for the individuals meant to be in the coalition and all of
them do not want to play second fiddle to the other.
“The leader of the MDC (Tsvangirai) still hopes to make it as Zimbabwe’s
president and therefore cannot allow anyone else to lead.
“Former vice president Mujuru has a point to prove to some people on the
other side that she is popular while Nkosana Moyo might want to prove that
he is amadoda sibili.
“Unless these individual interests find convergence I am doubtful a strong
coalition will be born.”
Academic and political analyst MacDonald Lewanika said: “It was always
going to be hard to have a single coalition given the disparate nature of
the opposition, and the absence of an agreed to formula for choosing the
leader of a coalition.
“I think that a `grand opposition coalition’ may be slowly eluding us, but
in its place two or three compact coalitions are likely to emerge, which
while disappointing for some will be a joy to others who felt that a
single coalition would railroad citizens into false choices.
“At the end of the day, the failure of a united coalition bodes well for
efforts to mobilise the vote as disparate parties and unions will have to
work extra hard to get their potential voters to register and turn out –
which is not a bad thing.”
Human rights lawyer and researcher Dewa Mavhinga said: “If there is a
broad, democratic, and decentralised conceptualisation of executive power
then it is very easy to have a coalition where the leaders share power.
“For instance, nothing can stop the opposition from committing to amending
the Zimbabwe Constitution once they are in power to have a GNU-type of
government with prime minister and president and powers shared and not
concentrated in one person.
“To unlock coalition talks, there is need to think outside the box of
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono said: “I understand and agree with the MDC
line because they have the biggest social base and Tsvangirai is the most
popular politician in this country with the grassroots. So it doesn’t make
sense to have a Mujuru or even Biti to lead a coalition when the most
voter friendly politician is Morgan.
“Biti, Nkosana, Welshman must understand that the goal of a coalition is
to win an election not to see who is the most clever amongst them. Their
brains will be utilised in government when they win.
“We need politicians who are seeking servant leadership not positions.
It’s foolish as it condescending for Nkosana’s people to assume that he
would fly into Harare from Joburg Mutambara style and lead a coalition of
people who have grassroots support. Nobody knows Nkosana outside of the
elite chattering classes. That’s my view.”
Political and social analyst Farai Maguwu said: “As I have said before,
the grand coalition scheme is a CIO ploy to keep the opposition
pre-occupied with fighting for positions until the election.
“But practically I don’t see any justification why a party that has no
elected representatives in council or Parliament can claim legitimacy to
lead the coalition. Politics is a game of numbers and this is demonstrated
through winning elections be it council or parliamentary.”
Human rights activist Vivid Gwede said: “The coalition seems to be caught
up in a thorny struggle for power, which is very surprising and needless.
“Some partners are obviously having unrealistic ambitions. But if everyone
sobered up and followed behind the biggest opposition party we would not
be having this debate.
“There is a proven opposition party with MPs, senators, mayors and
councillors, yet smaller parties think they can also put forward a
presidential candidate. That is not realistic. This is where they are
Political activist Tabani Moyo said: “As I have said before, the
pre-occupation with the so-called coalition has become an albatross on
opposition politics’ neck.
“The opposition parties’ structures are in shambles and lack the ability
to formidably organise and lead a government in waiting.
“That should be the agenda of opposition politics, to build internal
capacity for sustained strength to deal with the ruling party and offering
a competitive alternative policy framework. Sadly the opposition parties
are already “fighting” for power which they don’t have while the ruling
party is on the verge of claiming victory on the opposition’s watch.
“They have removed the eyes from the ball as they are pre-occupied with
defining who is the big brother of opposition politics and further
entrenching the culture of entitlement,” said Moyo.
He added though that if they focus on strengthening the party structures,
“leadership of a united front would be a default settlement on the basis
of the party with the strongest structures and oiled enough to lead, while
remaining humble to absorb criticism.”
Social commentator Rashweat Mukundu said: “The coalition is suffering a
still birth because of the unbridled ambitions of some of the political
“The fact remains that the most popular of the coalition leaders must be
the flag bearer and in the absence of a coalition it is only fair that the
opposition parties enter the race as individual parties and spend more
time mobilising rather than holding onto a shaky alliance.”
Commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said: “I think it’s too late now to haggle
over coalition leadership. It’s too divisive.
“My advice is that all opposition leaders should rally behind Tsvangirai,
because this is the only chance we have of not only removing Mugabe but
also of giving Tsvangirai his last go at Mugabe. If he fails, then those
that were against his coalition leadership will be vindicated, but for
now, let’s focus on building the 2018 coalition leader brand.”