via Coalitions fail to unseat Mugabe – DailyNews Live by Maxwell Sibanda 12 MAY 2014
Coalitions formed to unseat President Robert Mugabe since independence have failed as political leaders fight for positions.
Attempts by the MDC, Zapu, Zanu Ndonga and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn to form a coalition against Zanu PF have in the past failed amid accusations and counter accusations.
In recent weeks, Tendai Biti who is now leading the MDC renewal team has been seeking support from the civic society and other political parties for a proposed grand opposition movement.
The former finance minister and his allies are said to have met the smaller MDC leader Welshman Ncube, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa to discuss the coalition initiative.
But the question is; can grand coalitions be the answer to unseating Mugabe? Will they ever work for Zimbabweans, and indeed for Biti?
There are others who believe a united front against Mugabe is the only answer to regime change. They believe the disputed electoral outcomes of the 2008 elections could have been mitigated by a coalition of the two MDC parties.
Macdonald Lewanika, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director said political coalitions have achieved different results in the past.
“The Zanu-Zapu coalition by all accounts has held firm and been successful and the others have really not been coalitions. Like the Mutambara-Ncube, it was a coming together of individuals in one political formation, not necessarily two or more political parties coming together.
“Having said that, coalition politics will rule the roost in Zimbabwe’s politics especially for the opposition, because the numbers are clear that without coming together of opposition forces, Zanu PF will be difficult to dislodge, so the opportunities are there,” said Lewanika.
He said the only way that a Biti coalition can deliver is if it brings with it the bulk of MDC support. “Without it, whether Welshman, Dabengwa, Makoni or Madhuku joins, the current statistics show that the numbers these parties command are not significant enough to move the state.
“But it will make way for good political optics, at the end of the day — a Biti coalition can only deliver if it creates room for a stable and all-embracing political settlement among the opposition beyond elite party leaders to take a significant share of the popular base that Tsvangirai seems to have a grip on at the moment.
“The other element will be the extent to which they can attract respected Zimbabweans from within and without the country, who though they may not be popular can make people pause and reconsider their support of another formation or parties outside ‘the coalition’ — without that, it is likely to be doomed, but with these ingredients chances for success are enhanced.”
Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu believes grand political coalitions can easily be coalitions of leaders without anyone behind them.
“Politicians must confer and seek people’s support and not each other’s support. So the Biti MDC grouping and many others must rather focus on winning citizen support and not formulate grand coalitions that easily crash at election time,” said Mukundu.
Political activist Tabani Moyo said what is happening at the moment is an acid test for opposition politics in Zimbabwe.
“The major challenge is the proposals for coalitions are not coming up as a genuine quest for consolidated coalitions, but rather formations of convenience.
“The opposition in Zimbabwe is at its weakest ebb since the early years of the new millennium. The spilt of the two factions in the MDC seems to be creating a ‘rush to the bottom’ syndrome to showcasing strength in numbers — whether at grassroots or political figures through convenience coalitions.
However, Moyo added, this is a diversionary approach to politics as the Tsvangirai formation did in luring other formations realising strife from within and the same has since happened with the Biti formation.
“But this is not the pressing question, the major question which requires answers is: Are the people of Zimbabwe ever going to take opposition political formations seriously thereafter? “In the end, these political figures will fight each other to the bitter end, as is with the case of the proverbial two dogs fighting for a bone, the third will grab it.
“Above all, when they are done with fighting they will realise that no one has been or is interested in the child play. The people of Zimbabwe will simply have moved on,” said Moyo.
Dewa Mavhinga, chairperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said, whether grand political coalitions work or not depends on a number of factors and it would be wrong to say because a coalition worked in one country then it will work for Zimbabwe as circumstances maybe very different.
“Grand political coalitions to take state power must take into account Zimbabwe’s unique and peculiar circumstances that include a deeply entrenched liberation war movement and highly politicised and partisan security forces that operate in close proximity to Zanu PF.
“The key to political change in Zimbabwe lies in the depoliticisation of security forces, the demilitarisation of civilian affairs and the capacity and ability of political parties to mobilise ordinary Zimbabweans for mass action,” said Mavhinga.