Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

‘Opposition parties must close ranks for 2023’

Opposition leaders Nelson Chamisa and Joice Mujuru (Chamisa- AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Opposition leaders Nelson Chamisa and Joice Mujuru (Chamisa- AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

And with the ruling Zanu PF having a parliamentary supermajority and in the event that the Constitutional Court rules in favour of President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa, it means the opposition leader will lead a parliamentary caucus while he is outside the legislature.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the MDC Alliance is going back to the era of the late Morgan Tsvangirai where the opposition had MPs in Parliament without their president.

“The opposition is likely to be reconfigured. Chamisa needs to democraticise the Alliance and transform it into a party that is if the likes of Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti (who is now MP) agree to be under a leader who is not in Parliament.

“Otherwise the MDC Alliance will collapse soon after announcement of Chamisa’s loss and Chamisa would need to form a new party as MDC is already taken.

“We are also likely to see more serious, principled and issues-based opposition forming and that will include eminent Zimbabweans not in current political formations. These may pull together progressive forces to be a formidable opposition force.

“Otherwise most of the 150 political parties are going to die by next weekend. The future now lies on a strong opposition with internal democracy that lacks in MDC Alliance and the other small parties that contested and lost this poll.

“I see a new serious opposition coming. Civil society also needs to transform and start demanding a review of the Constitution and electoral reforms from next week in preparation for 2023.

“Otherwise the democratic push by undemocratic opposition parties ended on July 30, 2018,” said Saungweme.

Equally, the political careers of presidential candidates like Joice Mujuru, Thokozani Khupe, Elton Mangoma, Nkosana Moyo and Ambrose Mutinhiri who performed dismally during the polls hang in the balance, analysts said.

Analysts told the Daily News on Sunday that the aforementioned leaders must swallow their pride and join Chamisa in the big MDC Alliance tent.

Saungweme said their loss is telling of the need for them to rethink and join other parties whose principles and values agree with their own.

“It was a big lesson to them that there is power in numbers and they have to re-think, go back to the drawing board and think how to coalesce with other opposition parties. Otherwise we see the end of their political careers,” said Saungweme.

Political analyst Vivid Gwede said the political field in Zimbabwe as witnessed since 2000 has been a black-versus-white chess game of sorts, and rather a contest of only two political sides.

“This political drama pits those who support the ruling party on one side and those who back the strongest opposition to challenge it on the other.

“This persistent binary struggle is the cause of and the result of polarisation, which has coloured our politics with noticeable intolerance and acrimony. In this context, political contests are a matter of life and death.

“And in this environment of the polarisation of our political discourse, middle-of-the-road political views have no takers. This is one reason why Mutinhiri, Khupe, and Mujuru are very thin on support.

“The other reason, also to be honest, there are currently no real alternatives to the two dominant political parties. Most of the opposition parties, besides the MDC Alliance, are sideshows or mimicries of the main opposition or the ruling party lacking in either originality or seriousness or both,” said Gwede.

He said the 2018 elections have entrenched this two-party system.

“Anyone who wants to rule the country successfully will have a difficult job of uniting it.

“The nation had hoped for the first time, since the Unity Accord, that the new Constitution and the Government of National Unity (GNU) would have brought us closer to shared perspectives, this time on the basis of respectful diversity but it was a squandered opportunity.”

Gwede said the job of uniting the country must be revived based on dialogue, first and foremost, which is based on fair electoral contests.

“However, Zimbabwe is not the only country with a two-party system because even the United States is quite like that, in terms of the Republicans versus the Democrats, only their contests are a bit more civilised.

“While for countries like the US it is a source of political stability to have the two-party system because of adherence to the democratic rules and strong institutions, here it is quite the other issue. We don’t respect institutions, democratic competition and our Constitution,” said Gwede.

Playwright Cont Mhlanga said Zimbabwe will have more opposition political parties given the violence-free post-Mugabe election experience.

“Opposition politics bottlenecks are getting fewer and fewer as the push for a level field and the effect of the Constitution shapes the country’s democratic systems and culture.

“This will inspire the expansion of opposition politics both in party membership and organisations.

“Since the MDC Alliance is a loose joint for this election, its founders may be getting back to their bases. Because of funding challenges faced by opposition political parties, they will scale down their political activities after this election to a point that one would think that they are dead only to rise and even double in the next election.

“There is now no popular pressure to remove … Mugabe in the opposition politics of Zimbabwe, so chances are that we will now witness a new development of mature opposition politics in the country,” said Mhlanga.

Analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said: “I think this is the right time to begin the tough route of uniting all opposition parties, because self-interest is at a minimum and survival is at a premium.”

Media and political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said the MDC Alliance has to learn from this experience and move forward to organise on the ground.

“The importance of unity within opposition voices cannot be overemphasised as in some constituencies the combined opposition vote won but they were split giving an advantage to Zanu PF.

“I still argue that Chamisa has a future and needs to pull himself together and face the future. The future is on grassroots mobilisation and the opposition has demonstrated that it has people all over the country. The opposition needs to be active from now going forward and not sit and wait for 2023,” said Mukundu.

He said to a large extent, the MDC Alliance is already a political party and Chamisa does not necessarily have to lead the party from Parliament but rather spend time building the grassroots base of the party and strengthen its structures and reaching out to disgruntled elements.

“Chamisa has established himself as a political force and a capable leader and he needs to keep his eye on the ball and age is on his side.”

The truth of the matter, Mukundu said, is that the many losing opposition presidential candidates never stood a chance as Zimbabwe is a two-party state.

“Moyo, Khupe and Mangoma are good political leaders, but they need to be realistic, assess their chances and stand behind those parties that are close to their own political views.

“We cannot all be leaders and we can never have a party or an organisation that satisfies all our needs.

“So humility is needed from these fellas, otherwise their political careers are done. … Mujuru should retire and contribute to society in different ways,” Mukundu said.

Obert Gutu, deputy president in Thokozani Khupe’s MDC, said they are here to stay, adding that for a party that ran an election campaign on a virtual zero budgets, the MDC performed extremely well.

“We are going to have a total of four legislators on in the Senate and on the National Assembly proportional representation system in the 9th Parliament of Zimbabwe. That’s no mean achievement by any standard.

“We are going to grow our party into a massive organisation in time for the 2023 harmonised elections. For most of the campaign period, we were busy at the courts defending ourselves from the frivolous and vexatious court action that had been instituted against us by our erstwhile comrades,” Gutu said

He was referring to the suit the Chamisa-led MDC filed in the High Court demanding an order barring the rival camp led by Khupe to stop using the party’s name and symbol.

This follows a Supreme Court ruling directing that the matter to be heard urgently.

Chamisa’s camp had initially approached the Supreme Court on appeal challenging then Bulawayo High Court judge Francis Bere’s ruling which had given Khupe the leeway to continue using the party’s name and symbol.

However, Supreme Court judges Paddington Garwe, Antoinette Guvava and Anne-Marie Gowora, referred the matter back to the High Court decreeing that the matter be heard on an urgent basis.

The High Court was also expected to determine whether or not there are two MDC parties and  if not, whether Khupe and her colleagues are entitled to use the party’s name, symbol, logo and trademarks.

In compliance with this directive, Chamisa’s camp filed a declaratur on May 23 seeking an interdict against Khupe’s camp. Chamisa then pulled the case of the urgent roll.

Gutu said: “We will be moving forward and forging alliances with genuine and forthright politicians whom we used to work with harmoniously in the united MDC. Just watch the space.

“Violent pretenders and those who did a coup to take over power after the unfortunate death of ..Tsvangirai are now being exposed.

“They are sour and bitter losers. One thing is certain, however, political charlatans will continue to lose elections. They are now doomed.” Daily News.