Why a coalition may elude Zim opposition

JOHANNESBURG — In the absence of a united opposition, President Robert Mugabe — who will be 94 years old when the 2018 polls take place in Zimbabwe — is tipped to retain control of the country for another five-year term.

Source: Why a coalition may elude Zim opposition – The Standard January 29, 2017

by Ray Ndlovu

Mugabe has been in power since independence in April 1980 and his probable win would be aided in part by the tight control he still wields over the state apparatus and the refusal by his ruling Zanu PF to implement election reforms — as stipulated by a new constitution — which, if followed, would level the political playing field.

Zanu PF is deeply divided over the issue of Mugabe’s successor, but this has not stopped it from naming him as the sole candidate for the polls at its party conference in December.

The deep divisions among the opposition’s ranks over whether to enter into a coalition arrangement may alter what happens next.

“I don’t see a coalition taking place, as the main contenders for the presidency both see themselves as viable candidates,” says Ibbo Mandaza, director and founder of the Sapes Trust, a Harare-based think tank. “I don’t see Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru coming together.”

Tsvangirai leads the largest opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T). The next polls will be his fourth attempt since 2002 to wrest power from Mugabe.

His previous election defeats at the hands of Mugabe and in particular his 2013 election loss led to calls for him to pass the baton to someone else. But Tsvangirai has resisted such calls.

“You can’t change the [leader] right in the middle of a struggle,” he often tells critics.

MDC-T insiders say that though the party projects an image of approval for a coalition arrangement, the issue has split the party right down the middle.

Those opposed are sceptical of joining hands with Mujuru, who served under Mugabe for 10 years as his deputy and was a cabinet minister since 1980. Some see her as a person who would taint the MDC-T. Mujuru now heads the Zimbabwe People First party.

Deliberations by the MDC-T’s top brass last year set out stringent conditions for a possible coalition. Ex-party members who have broken away from Tsvangirai are likely to be left out in the cold.

This especially includes Tendai Biti, the former MDC-T secretary-general and one-time Tsvangirai right-hand man, who left the MDC-T in 2014. Biti now leads the People’s Democratic Party.

The MDC-T has insisted that the coalition candidate must be someone who is able to win an election against Mugabe.

The issue will also be put to the MDC-T’s grassroots supporters. Tsvangirai is set to canvass the opinion of his supporters this week.

The MDC-T says Tsvangirai will embark on a “highly interactive tour” of the country’s 10 provinces.

He will meet “ordinary people, party structures, as well as opinion leaders in the country’s provinces to hear them out on the crisis facing the country, as well as other national issues — alliance building being key among them,” it says.

Meanwhile, political observers say that with Zimbabwe quickly slipping into election mode, social movements, which gained traction last year, could play second fiddle to political parties themselves. Social movements such as #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka riled authorities last year as they called for mass protests and for Mugabe to step down.

Political commentator Vivid Gwede says social activist leaders will remain relevant in the short term and are a vital cog in highlighting the issues of ordinary people, while the political players haggle over positions.

“I see them [social activists] as being either roped into or sidelined by the coming electoral tide. They have to fight to keep their heads above water,” Gwede says. — Financial Mail


  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 5 years ago

    An honest appraisal must be made here of our political parties. There is an opinion by most that the party belongs to them . I remember a time when the late great Joshua Nkomo ( the father of Zimbabwe) at his meetings would say the people are Zimbabwe and we will work for them only. Unfortunately this ideology was derailed by unscrupulous people and continues today. We need people dedicated to the real purpose of making Zimbabwe great again. We must live to think beyond what can the government give me but what can we do to improve our lot. We need to keep any party honest and those politicians not doing the right thing must be removed . We simply can not be ruled or told anything by thugs. This must stop forthwith.
    As long as we accept these unscrupulous people in our midst , the mafia mentality will persist forever . Our demise has been brought about by this mafia clique and will continue if we continue to elect the wrong individuals to any party. As an educated people we must now act as such . Even if the leader does not have degrees ,we must look at their actions . As they say ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS and we all know what that means .
    Let’s us all now think for our good without fear or favour. God bless Zimbabwe.

  • comment-avatar
    Mazano Rewayi 5 years ago

    Ego, “bright boy syndrome” and “entitlement” shall haunt our politics for some time before duty, service and sacrifice become the narrative. So it is not the “leaders” who will bring that new narrative but the ordinary people demanding it. All we need now is to stop the slide. In football jargon, we just want to avoid relegation and anyone who can do the job should be enlisted. “Brown or black, we just want the cat to catch the mice.” So let’s just use the imperfect leaders we have to get rid of this horrible system. This is where the civic/social movements have a great role to play – let’s all demand a coalition against the regime. All must come out against the regime and not be ambivalent. let’s all ask/demand the regime to go, not request it to change/reform. The message should be simple – enough is enough. The lessons from such action will augur well for the future democracy we all yearn for.

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    Joe Cool 5 years ago

    The only difference between Mugabe and Mujuru and Tsvangirai is that Mugabe is smarter. So we will probably have to put up with him until nature takes its course.

  • comment-avatar
    Ngoto Zimbwa 5 years ago

    Mugabe is not smart, neither is ZANU.
    If they were, the dire state our country is in would have become apparent to them.
    Nay, these are morons of the highest order, in other words high grade mongols who keep digging our country into deep manure.
    Mugabe was clever enough to brainwash the security guys, police CIO and the youth, leaving the nation at the mercy of these misguided individuals. The result has been the birth of a monster, completely out of control. A monster that’s throttling our Nation with no one in Zanu able to do anything about it.
    Opposition leaders cannot do anything on their own. WE, the people, must be willing to sacrifice ourselves in slaying this monster.