Will all 118 political parties last the race?

By Tendai Kamhungira

While there are at least 118 political parties registered to take part in this year’s harmonised elections, few of them will survive until election day with others vanishing after elections.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa

This is not the first election that has been dominated by such political parties with suspicions most of them are sponsored to cause confusion, hence split the vote.

In past elections some of them would withdraw on the eve of the polls.

It is one thing registering a political party and another to keep it running because of the costs involved especially in campaigning.

Over the years, the political landscape has been dominated by the ruling Zanu PF and the mainstream MDC.

One of the new fledgling political parties that has been visibly working on the ground through vigorous campaigns which has taken them to several rural areas is the Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity (ZIPP)-led by Blessing Kasiyamhuru.

The party has also been putting spirited adverts in various newspapers, something few of these parties have managed to do.

Kasiyamhuru, recently told the Daily News on Sunday that his political outfit, which is seen as a dark horse, will spring a surprise and make Zimbabweans realise that his is indeed not a fly-by-night party.

He also denied that he might be a front of the ruling party.

“It’s more exciting entering into this race as a dark horse, but we are not just doing this without guidance because we are listening to God.

“Ours is a product of research, we have done our homework and we have penetrated areas which were said to be out of bounds for the opposition.

“I am not a career politician — no, I am just an academic, businessman and a regional consultant.

“But I am a leader and so far my leadership credentials are showing how capable I am,” Kasiyamhuru said.

The ZIPP leader said he has fund-raised enough resources from his partners in South Africa, overseas and back home to last the race.

“Yes, I am proud to say our party has enough resources to mount a serious campaign and even after the elections our programmes will still continue.

“We are a party that is there to stay. …each and every party member throughout the country has got our regalia and we can easily be identified.”

Leader of the Suffering Voices of Zimbabwe Welcome Shumba told the Daily News on Sunday that small parties are not fly-by-nights, as they are sanctioned by the Constitution of the country, which is the supreme law of the land.

“The Constitution gives every person a right to form a political party and join a party of his or her choice. But the Constitution should have guidelines on the creation of political parties, because this is creating problems, even for Zec in terms of printing ballot papers.

“The number of ballot papers will no doubt create problems and confusion for the electorate, especially the elderly ones.

“From my recollection I know before former president Robert Mugabe’s resignation, we only had about 15 political parties, some of which include the ruling Zanu PF, the MDC, the Welshman Ncube-led MDC, Progressive and Innovative Movement of Zimbabwe (Pimz), Zapu, People’s Democratic Party, Suffering Voices of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Development Party, Zanu Ndonga, African National Party and Good People’s Movement, among others,” he said.

He said Mugabe’s departure had opened the avenues for other political parties to take a step towards forming their own parties.

While Shumba said the number of political parties might seem harmless, the presence of most of them is under serious threat as most of them are disadvantaged in terms of resources, as those that get government funding are only those that have representatives in Parliament.

Democratic Opposition Party (DOP) leader Harry Peter Wilson believes the many political parties emerging for this year’s elections show that the country needs a government of national unity that can absorb most of the contestants.

“This is healthy but my call has been for the formation of a government of national unity for the next five or so years so that we put our house in order.

“There was no order under the last government by (Robert) Mugabe and we need to create that first and then go to elections, and through that I do not think we could have all these political parties.”

But what many believe makes this system confounding is that there are 118 political parties in a $4bn GDP economy, when a $19,7 trillion United States economy, for example, has just two political parties.

In as far as many of the political parties are crying political sabotage; there are those that have stood the test of time, though making an insignificant influence on the political arena.

Over the years, the country has had such candidates like Shakespeare Maya of the National Alliance for Good Governance, who has been participating in elections as a presidential candidate. However, there are claims he has joined Zanu PF.

Margaret Dongo’s Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (Zud), was a vibrant party at the turn of the millennium but has since fizzled out, while Mark Baard’s Zimbabwe Republican Front (ZRF) has also sunk into oblivion.

Job Sikhala’s MDC99 is also no longer in action, following the politician’s return to MDC.

And over the years, there have been perennial contenders like Raymond Chamba an independent, Kisinoti Mukwazhe of the Zimbabwe Development Party and Anslem Karimupfumbi of the Rusununguko United People’s Party.

Most of the people that lead opposition political parties do not participate in the presidential race, they instead opt to field parliamentary and council candidates.

For instance, Simba Makoni of the Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD) did not participate as a presidential candidate in the 2013 elections, though he had done so in 2008, where he got eight percent of the vote, which many attributed to the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s failure to snatch outright victory.

The March 2008 presidential race also had its own comic moments when little-known Langton Toungana threw his hat into the ring and garnered 0,58 percent of the total ballots cast after 14 503 people voted for him.

Some political parties have been accused of turning politics into a career, where they get money through subscriptions by members or from donors across the world.

There are other participants, who have remained in the race despite the lack of resources and possible capacity and potential to win the election.

Such people like Egypt Dzinemunhenzva, have remained resolute in their bid to run the race for presidency, though they have failed to make a mark over the years.

Some have said the creation of many of these political parties has been necessitated by the incessant expulsions that dogged the parties over the last few years in both Zanu PF and the MDC.

Zanu PF expelled several party members since the ascendency of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power last November after Mugabe’s resignation.

Most of these deposed cadres are now part of a new political outfit known as the National Patriotic Front led by another former Zanu PF cadre Ambrose Mutinhiri.

In the MDC, there are high chances that another camp is likely going to form another  party following a leadership wrangle between Nelson Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe. Daily News

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