When opposition politics takes leave

via When opposition politics takes leave – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 15, 2016

2018 is election year. Notwithstanding challenges that befall the process. Elections give an opportunity to choose or maintain leadership. This process is preceded by a season of campaigning. It seems it is going to be a busy season for Zanu PF. Will Zanu PF sustain the two campaigns at the same time?

The campaigning season is a time to sell ideas and lure the electorate into your corner. It is a time to convince people that as an opposition party, you have better solutions to the problems the electorate is facing. It is time to build hope through blueprints and manifestos. In advanced democracies, campaigns are not about attacking or focusing on personalities, but explaining and expounding on policy positions and introducing new ideas that promise solutions to current problems. Despite that political campaign is an organised effort which seeks to influence voters by selling ideas, it also takes advantage of moments of weakness of those in government.

This seems to be in contrast with realities in the Zimbabwean and South African political landscapes. During last week’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) in South Africa, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) once again helped President Jacob Zuma get away with an otherwise flat speech by heckling him and chanting “Zupta must fall”. They gave Zuma’s show the dramatic punctuation that it needed to spice up the Sona. Zuma assumed a different image altogether. He became the victim of political heckling who needed security to rescue him from rogue politicians.

Voters don’t need to be part of Zanu PF infighting, but have to look elsewhere for solutions

The EFF became the face of anarchy that vaporised content from Zuma’s speech. They denied South Africans the chance to focus and dissect Zuma’s speech. And for sure, it is their uncalculated moves that dominated news headlines than the content of the Sona. More people remember what EFF did than what Zuma said.

It is almost similar across the Limpopo where several dozens of opposition political parties seem to have gone on leave or taken a back seat as they
watch the Zanu PF drama unfold. Zanu PF factional fights have dominated our headlines. These are internal party dynamics which have sadly and suddenly dominated our lives. Because our media has developed an insatiable appetite for the internal Zanu PF fights, we have lost grip of the bigger picture. The media have not only become mirrors of these political developments, but key actors. They are now part of Zanu PF succession drama to the extent that they have become an agenda item in their politburo. In the process they have lost credibility compromising their watchdog role on national issues. National issues are now in the periphery of the media agenda. The media has become part of the drama.

But it is not only the media, but the opposition parties as well have not taken advantage of the current situation in Zanu PF to prop up themselves. They have become spectators of the soap opera as if they have lost interest in the national agenda. Perhaps this confirms the long held notion that some political parties do exist only to oppose Zanu PF and not to govern. Because if indeed, they were interested in governing this would be the ideal time to sway the electorate from Zanu PF infighting and convince them that there is a future beyond and outside Zanu PF.

It may be time to tell the voters that they don’t need to be part of Zanu PF infighting, but to look elsewhere for solutions. It is time to tell voters that perhaps Zanu PF has run its course and the country needs new ideas elsewhere to solutions. The media is following Zanu PF drama because of lack of alternative sources of better news. This would also be the opportune time for the opposition parties to give the media something different, something of national interest and to craft a national agenda different from what exists in Zanu PF.

Certainly if the opposition miss this opportunity, once Zanu PF has sorted its internal squabbles, it will turn the heat on the opposition as they often do. But if you have the electorate in your pocket, that would be insignificant.

There is no other better opportunity to work with the people without disruption from Zanu PF than now. There is no better time to sell development ideas especially this year of drought than now. Tell the people that Zanu PF cannot fight and feed the nation at the same time. Convince the people that they are not part of the succession drama.