Zimbabwe runs out of options

via Zim runs out of options  Mail & Guardian 14 MAR 2014 by Jason Moyo

Simba Makoni went up against Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai and only got 8% of the vote. He describes the real majority as those who don’t go to the polls. (Desmond Kwande)

Bitter reality defies all talk of a new leader or movement to break the political stalemate in Zimbabwe.

After he was pushed out into the cold by Zanu-PF in 2005, a disillusioned Jonathan Moyo declared that Zimbabwe needed a “third way”.

Both Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had failed, Moyo wrote then, and “patriots” needed to forge a new “political and economic synthesis – where Zanu-PF is the failed thesis and the MDC the unsuccessful antithesis”.

Now, with Zanu-PF drifting along with no real solution to a deepening economic crisis and the MDC breaking itself apart, talk is again about the possibility of a “third way”.

But it is unlikely that disillusionment with the two main parties has grown sufficiently to make a third party viable. Zimbabwe remains polarised, with little space in the middle ground.

It is telling that, not long after Moyo bandied about the possibility of his “synthesis”, he himself was back in the Zanu-PF fold, saying “it’s cold out there”.

Many have tried to pull themselves away from Zanu-PF and the MDC, hoping to sell a brand of clean politics to counter the violence and patronage that have become hallmarks of Zanu-PF and the MDC. But their careers now serve only as fodder in the hands of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe, who use their example to ward off internal criticism – go against me and you are out on your own.

‘It doesn’t work here’
Last year, Welshman Ncube ran on a platform of clean politics and decentralisation. He got only 2.6% of the presidential vote. In 2008, Simba Makoni broke from Zanu-PF, promising to forge an alliance with “progressive forces”. He got only 8%.

In a birthday interview last month, Mugabe offered a brutal assessment of that kind of politics: “It doesn’t work here.”

In recent meetings with his senior officials, Tsvangirai has also used the fate of his former allies as a whip. His public invitations to Ncube and others who have left the MDC were meant more as reminders to internal party rebels who may be thinking of branching out on their own.

Inside the MDC, even senior officials opposed to Tsvangirai admit that leaving the party is a major gamble. They insist the party will have to reform or watch its support fall further. The party’s campaign messages are tired and worn, secretary general Tendai Biti said last week.

“We were selling hopes and dreams when Zanu-PF was selling practical realities,” Biti said, in remarks that drew the fury of Tsvangirai’s backers.

But many within the party agree with him. “It is time the MDC quickly embarked on a steadfast process of evolution if it is to remain relevant to the emerging political dispensation,” Promise Mkwananzi, the MDC youth chairperson, said.

MDC will survive
Other observers say that Tsvangirai will survive the current internal battles but the violence and intolerance will make it difficult to win over outsiders to the MDC.

“The MDC may well survive this, and Morgan may well remain its leader, enjoying the support of some of us, but the reality is that what is happening severely damages him and the party he leads,” McDonald Lewanika, a political activist, said.

Western nations are softening their position on Mugabe’s government but are actively encouraging the emergence of a new alliance of reformists from both sides. They are looking past Tsvangirai and, for the first time, openly criticising him.

But it is hard to see a new party, or a new opposition leader, emerging who has as much influence as Tsvangirai.

“His leadership of the MDC touched the collective consciousness of many in his country and it will be hard for any individual to recreate the impact he had,” a scholar, Simukai Tinhu, said.

‘No chance’ of a new party
A senior Zanu-PF politburo member this week also dismissed the possibility of a new party emerging.

“If any new party is to have an impact, it would mean senior, well-known people leaving both the party [Zanu-PF] and the MDC to form some kind of alliance. There is no chance of that,” the official said.

In an interview last year, Makoni said the majority were, in fact, those who were not voting.

“People have been forced to believe they can only pick from three choices: Zanu-PF, the MDC or no party at all,” he lamented. “This is wrong.”



  • comment-avatar
    Roving Eagle 9 years ago

    Democracy in Zimbabwe is like a football match. Except the opposing teams have different interpretation of the sport. To zpf football is American football, so they match into the field with helmets on and body protection and ready to hit opponents hard. The opponents’ view of the game is soccer, to they match into the field with their skimpy uniforms and fully prepared for a soccer match. On realizing the zpf is prepared for American football game, they complain but still match onto the field still expecting the zpf players to play the game according to soccer rules. Zpf have none of it the throw the ball, hit defenseless opponents hard and and get into the end-zone over and over again. After the match they declare themselves winners and expect recognition. Spectators are therefore put into a quandary, after the opponents match into the field and play when the odds are clearly stacked against them, it’s difficult to deny zpf their claim of victory. Morale of the story is, zpf have had one person as leader for 40 years, they can be hardly be described as a democratic party. For democratic parties to contest power with a party that knows no democracy is wishful thinking. Third way, MDC, whoever as long as they contest power on a democratic platform they are wasting time. No different from a soccer team agreeing to play a game of soccer with a American football team playing their football game.

    • comment-avatar
      Matake 9 years ago

      Brilliant analogy, this is it American football vs soccer.

  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 9 years ago

    We have to have to have an organization that utilizes different strategies to achieve the goal.I did at one time suggest planting social oriented individuals in each and every community ,especially in rural areas. These will lead in projects that uplift the lives of communities. These can be church ,economic, social health,extension officers.
    The community will stand with those that look after their interest.
    This process brings out those committed to serving the nation.
    If a person has committed him or herself to live with the Chiundura villagers for 3 years and is prepared to be their MP and still stays within the community, that is a show of genuine passion.
    We should come up with an all encompassing organization that will lead us .

  • comment-avatar
    Tjingababili 9 years ago


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    John Thomas 9 years ago

    I do not like to see Mukoni’s face. After what he did in 08 there should be no doubt about him. He puts himself first and the people of this country last.

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      easily fooled 9 years ago

      This is very true. I will never vote makoni in any way. He is learned but daft

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    Nyoni 9 years ago

    What choice do the people have. They are frog marched about the place like zombies and are tired of all the rubbish they see leading them. If a new party is to come it must be new faces not stained by filth and who will lead by example.

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    easily fooled 9 years ago

    Zimbabwe politics is funny. A lot of the people do what they dont want. My fiance was a teacher, she also claimed to be illiterate and had to take her ballot to her headmaster to vote for her on July 31, 2013. At home we had a strong sentiment that change was coming. We had mutually faith that our two votes were going to make a change, in a small way though. Accordingly, her headmaster did the obvious. The result is ZPF won and she lost me. In my mind, she was not honest and upright, like ZPF she indicated left to turn right…..perhaps claiming to love me when she even doesnt. She gained and secured her job and lost a would be husband.

    There are many people who attend rallies, giving opposition a calculated, and faith of a win when in fact out of fear, they voted otherwise.

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      easily fooled 9 years ago

      So they lost a chance for economic change…..they must live with the ghost of dictatorship. I will retire reading much into Zim politics now, until the big day when we shall converge at thenNational Heroes Acres to pay our last respect for HE Pres Robert Mugabe.

      Bye guys, it was nice sharing views.

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    Roving Ambassador 9 years ago

    I want thought I have had enough of zim,but its the call of the wild. You will be back Easily Fooled.

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    Mseyamwa 9 years ago

    ZANU is in class right now learning that the economy cannot be rigged. That situations cannot be willed into reality. That if you ever had the good fortune of finding easy-picking alluvial diamonds in your country once, and you ate them with disregard, they ain’t gonna come back again. That the Chinese, no matter how much you shout to the world that they are your ‘friends’, will not just jump onto your gravy train if it ain’t got no gravy on it. That to assume that you are the ones to whom God only gave the gift of thinking in your country is not a correct assumption. They are learning what the public has been telling them all along, yet they have chosen to want to think they are the only ones who think and can think on behalf of us all. I wish I could say ‘stay scr***d until you have learned enough’, but that would also keep the rest of the country in a lurch.

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    MikeH 9 years ago

    Ian Douglas Smith must be laughing his socks off !!!

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    Ndebvu Mukomichi 9 years ago

    The Mirage of Billions in Potential Western Aid:

    The West has no money to give Zim- but they should remove sanctions to allow the nation to trade unmolested. That is the on;y investment required in Zim.

    There is a better link between sanctions and economic regression than between elections and economic hardship. anyway the elections were free and fiarly fiar. Get used to it machinja.

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      Mseyamwa 9 years ago

      We could still persevere through the sanctions if we put each other first. Too much corruption has drained the little available financial resources that we could use to strengthen the country’s industry and economy. There are countries which are willing to trade with us, are there not?

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    Saddened 9 years ago

    If as the writer suggests that Tsvagirai is key to MDC who in turn are the only viable option for Zimbabwe then we will end up ‘having a government we deserve’ If that should happen I will lose all hope of a better future and for starters will no longer bother to express my opinion knowing that it would be absolutely pointless! We have been down this road of glorifying leaders since 1963 & where has it got us? Very tired of waiting for democratic change!

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    Matake 9 years ago

    Thesis, antithesis then synthesis, Hegellian ethos, sounds very Jesuity. I wonder how long they intend for the two systems to rub against each other. When will this synthesis happen? How long shall the innocent Zimbo suffer, all for being protestant??! Most protestants have been infiltrated anyway hence the many false prophets. Why not the synthesis now?!!