What strategy can the grand coalition utilise to win elections in 2018
By Tendai Mazenge
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing political and economic crisis and has been marred with protests in the past year calling for President Mugabe to step down. The opposition having spent years fighting the ruling party, have finally seen the light and a grand coalition appears to be on the horizon. Other opposition parties have formed what they call Coalition of Democrats (CODE) and Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC is with Democratic Coalition (DECO).
If DECO and CODE were to unite Soon they will stand a great chance of winning the 2018 elections.Those opposition parties that are opposing the coalition must be dropped for progress sake. Zanu Pf will manipulate the electoral process if the opposition remain fragmented. Since Zanu Pf controls all levels of power it is going to be difficult to fight it as individuals in 2018 hence the idea of a grand coalition. We need to look at strategies that can make the coalition a success and the major players involved.
MUJURU &TSVANGIRAI PACT
Last year Joyce Mujuru and Morgan Tsvangirai held a joint opposition rally in Gweru and it was a success. This year they signed a memorandum of understanding to form an opposition coalition. This is good news because Joyce Mujuru knows how Zanu Pf rigs elections. She will be bringing in information and strategy to Tsvangirai who only have a large following but doesn’t know Zanu Pf rigs elections.
Mujuru also have sympathisers from the army even though they cannot come out in the open and support her but when the time is right the securocrats can help her achieve her goal. Mugabe is old and everyone is preparing for a life after Mugabe hence the infighting in Zanu Pf at the moment. Mujuru can take advantage of the infighting and help Tsvangirai to unsit Mugabe.
MDC have been effective in mobilising supporters particularly in urban areas but it has struggled in the rural areas and Mashonaland areas from which the ruling party draws much support. Since Mujuru comes from Mashonaland Central she has supporters who sympathise with her and are also fed up of lies from Zanu Pf. If these two manage to work together and finally agree on who would lead the coalition, success is guaranteed.
TENDAI BITI &CODE
The President of The People’s Democratic Party PDP, Hon Tendai Biti joined the Coalition of Democrats which consists of more than 8 opposition political parties. Discussions are still going on as to who will lead the coalition.There are still many questions as to what form the coalition will actually take.CODE has also joined hands withThe National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA) to form ZINERA.Now there are more than 20 opposition parties working together, which is a good development. They need to finalise on how the group will field it’s candidates that will represent the whole alliance or will each party still put forward their own representatives. As for CODE there seem to be no problem in electing a leader unlike DECO where Tsvangirai wants to lead without going for an election.
For the coalition to be a success leaders should find a way of luring the war veterans on their side since they have been mistreated by Mugabe and Zanu Pf. Again Joyce Mujuru could be helpful in swaying them to her side since she is also a war veteran.She has to act fast before Mugabe entices them with yet another lucrative deal. The war veterans leaders, Chris Mutsvangwa and Douglas Mahiya were fired from government so working against Mugabe will give them hope of reclaiming their positions once the opposition is in power.Can Mugabe survive without the war veterans? It’s a topic for another day.
We have activists groups such as OAUS, Tajamuka, This Flag, This Gown and Vendors Association who led mass protests last year and have also formed a coalition against Mugabe. They support the opposition but they need a leader who would make their movement a success. The opposition has some good reasons to be excited if these activists mainly the youths are on their side. Youths make up about 65% of the population so having them on the opposition side is an advantage as they are the most affected by the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
Once DECO and CODE amalgamate,we are assured of success in 2018 elections. All the leaders of the opposition parties involved have shown maturity in opposition politics except a few who we think are agents of Zanu Pf. After the MDC dismal performance in 2013, many supporters were disappointed, but the alliance of CODE and DECO could rejuvenate morale and hope of a better Zimbabwe.
There are many unresolved issues yet to be decided and if it turns out that they cannot be resolved, the grand coalition will suffer a still birth. After they elect a leader of the Coalition the opposition should map out a clear strategy to tackle issues of voter registration and electoral fraud especially now that they will be using Biometric Voter Registration.Mujuru’s commitment will be tested with the extent to which she is prepared to release secrets that may prove useful to the Coalition. The Coalition need to source for resources for campaigning ahead of the 2018 elections.
Zanu Pf is a well oiled machine and they will do everything in their power to manipulate the electoral process so the opposition should be on guard. The grand coalition must have an intelligence department that will help fish information from ZEC, Registrar General and the people responsible for elections. Defeating Mugabe should not be difficult in 2018 as he has made many enemies in the last 37 years. Coupled with the intra-party fighting of Lacoste and G40 factions, the opposition should use this to its advantage. Mugabe will be 94 in 2018 and with the combination of age and mismanagement, this should make Mugabe easy to defeat.
Failure to establish a grand coalition will be catastrophic for Zimbabwe. Leaders should be more concerned on what the coalition can achieve than who will lead the coalition. They should put the interests of the people and country first than their egos. Coalitions have won elections against some of the worst dictators in the world.The mood and optimism among Zimbabweans is high because they all want to unsit the brutal regime of Zanu Pf and Mugabe at all costs. A grand coalition will avoid vote splits and if we work together as opposition fighting one enemy, we will create another Zimbabwe in 2018.
By Tendai Mazenge
PDP Secretary for Policy, Harare Province [email protected]