Wither opposition politics in Zimbabwe?

via Wither opposition politics in Zimbabwe?  Nehanda Radio May 31, 2014 By Grace Kwinjeh

The internal feud within the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC’s) ranks – at a time when Zimbabwe is in extremely dire need for a vibrant and effective opposition voice – makes for tragic and dispiriting reading.

Ten months after a dismal loss at the polls, things have moved from bad to worse for the once vibrant opposition party, now split into two factions – one led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the other by his former right-hand man and confidante, Secretary General, Tendai Biti.

The war is on, as both camps fight for the soul of the party, literally tearing apart with bare hands everything built over the years with the sweat and blood of many innocent souls, some of whom never did live to see a new Zimbabwe.

The camp led by Tsvangirai claims grassroots support, while Biti’s camp claims donor and civil society support.

Tsvangirai and Biti both claim to have suspended each other from the party, with reports of internal violence having been broadcast far and wide. We have experienced weeks of sheer madness of accusations and counter accusations. Some of them of an outlandish sort – for instance, each camp claims the other is being used by Zanu PF to destroy the peoples struggle.

Onlookers marvel at the ability of how the ageing, semi-blind, ninety-year-old President Robert Mugabe, each moment he is cornered, manages to out-maneuver opposition within and outside his own party – as can be witnessed from the way in which senior officials within Zanu PF are, again, falling over each other in efforts designed to endorse him as their leader at the next congress.

As for the opposition, down memory lane, there is a clutter of other big names that went down the same route – of either co-option into oblivion, or strange things just starting to happen to their parties. Of note are the late Joshua Nkomo and ZAPU, the late Abel Muzorewa and his UANC, Edgar Tekere’s ZUM, Margaret Dongo’s ZUD, and, more recently, Tsvangirai’s MDC seems destined to join this hall of opposition skeletons.

Yet another missed opportunity for Zimbabweans to rise, shine and be counted after years of combat against the plunder of the country at the hands of the Zanu PF party whose intransigence has led the country each year to sink deeper and deeper into economic and political chaos, to a point where it has now reached rock bottom.

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing some of its worst moments ever. The economy continues to be in decline, a prevailing liquidity crunch has resulted in closure of firms, with reports of over 1 300 workers being retrenched just in the first few months of the year.

Among the worst affected sectors are agriculture, timber, communications and catering. Zimbabweans continue to suffer with no relief in sight, their only hope being a vibrant, strategic opposition – now sadly in self-destruct mode.

It seems the opposition is failing to recover from the loss of the 2013 general elections in which Mugabe controversially won 61,09% of the vote to Tsvangirai’s 33,94%, with the rest being shared among little known smaller parties. Not even a united front of the opposition would have tipped the vote against the 90 year old ruler in favour of the opposition.

The rigging was allegedly executed by an Israeli firm, NIKUV, to whom, it is claimed, millions of US dollars were paid to manipulate the vote in favour of Mugabe and his Zanu PF party. The MDC, which was part of government during the time of preparations for the elections, had little clarity and wisdom to utilise its presence in government to effect changes to electoral laws in its and everyone’s favour.

Not even the old adage that when you sup with the devil you use a long spoon could have been taken as cautionary counsel by the MDC leadership as it became bosom buddies with its erstwhile enemies, becoming their most vocal defenders.

In fact, they became so much part and parcel of the status quo that there was so much obscurity blurring what government business was and where the MDC itself started and ended. The plot, one can safely argue in retrospect, was lost right there in the GNU.

It is now common knowledge that in the last, as in former, elections Mugabe was not the people’s choice, in much the same way as it is also well known that the opposition went into this election little prepared strategically, in terms of the pragmatic responses to each of the emerging scenarios, with the worst one being the orchestration of the rigging of the election.

Blinded by pre-election euphoria and large crowds at rallies, the MDC was naively hoping to trounce Zanu PF and be in power by now. It is naively foolhardy to imagine that Zanu PF would have gone to sleep and given over to the MDC just like that. The party failed to read and understand the shenanigans of its partner in the GNU for over five years. That GNU itself being a creation of a similar deception perpetrated in yet another stolen election.

ZANU PF’s political hegemony, was meant to be broken by the formation of the MDC under the leadership of Tsvangirai in 1999, a vibrant labour based party that became a national symbol of the peoples aspirations for change – a break away from entrenched nationalist politics.

Again the state of the MDC sadly might give credence to the view held by some regional elites that the real opposition will come from within Zanu PF. The melodrama of anti-corruption, which stars a lot of the governing party’s shadowy spokespeople championing the cause of honest stewardship in the administration of state enterprises, might be a red herring which is judiciously used to prop up such views!

Grace Kwinjeh is a veteran MDC-T activist and a former EU representative for the party.


  • comment-avatar
    zanupf fear me 8 years ago

    Why are so many opportunistic failed self serving gullible naive irrelevant puffed up self proclaimed politicians penning such boring long winded pseudo intellectual intellectually bereft thesis bogus pH.d treatises sending us to sleep. Forget this 2018 dream for nikuv erections… when mnangagwa triumphs soon it will be too late to take to streets barricades for better chances. You had so so many chances but attempt outwit each other with toothless endless debates. Action not words u mamparas of cowardly split opposition

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    mandevu 8 years ago

    When will everyone see that political parties and political process will not solve the problem. It is an issue for civil society to deal with. They need to stand up. Government is vulnerable in that space

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    Rocks tone 8 years ago

    Opposition or no opposition doesn’t work in Zimbabwe the two Mdc functions are wasting their time

  • comment-avatar
    Rocks tone 8 years ago

    Which ever side of the two fuctions, can they convince us , how best are they going defeat or unseats the ZANU Pf government

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    Maipisi 8 years ago

    Kwinjeh there are no opposition parties in Zimbabwe,there are British proxies masquarading as political parties in opposition to the people of Zimbabwe. What was MDC’s founding objective if I may ask. Was it not to reverse the land reform on behalf of British citizens in this country. Now that fraught attempt has reached a dead end, is there still relevance for the British to continue putting their hard earned money in a dead project. I thought you were wiser to extact this reality from your masters.