Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Tough times for small political parties

By Tendayi Madhomu

A number of opposition political parties are likely to collapse before the next polls in 2023 primarily as a result of lack of funding and their failure to gain traction at the just-ended polls.

In happier times: Then First Lady Grace Mugabe and the then Vice President Joice Mujuru
In happier times: Then First Lady Grace Mugabe and the then Vice President Joice Mujuru

Zimbabwe has over 150 registered political parties of which over 120 took part in the July 30 harmonised elections, controversially won by Zanu PF.

A record 23 candidates contested for the presidency.

All the minor political parties failed to garner enough votes to give them a voice in the National Assembly, leaving Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance as the only formations entitled to access funding under the Political Parties Finance Act.

With unemployment estimated at over 90 percent and poverty levels worsening, opposition parties are struggling to survive because their membership — apart from being too thin — cannot make any meaningful contributions towards their survival through payment of subscription fees.

The donor community, which used to contribute generously towards advancing democracy in Africa, has also stiffened its hand, partly aggrieved by the abuse of their largesse.

Having failed to garner decent votes more than a month ago, disgruntlement has also set in, with officials deserting some of the opposition parties.

For instance, former vice president Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party is reportedly on the brink of collapse, with a chunk of its leadership tendering in letters of resignation.

The National Patriotic Front, formed by sacked Zanu PF members has also suffered huge setbacks, with former Cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo blaming former first lady Grace Mugabe for the party’s collapse due to her quest for power.

Analysts told the Daily News on Sunday that emerging opposition parties will find it difficult to survive to the next elections due in five years because they have no political lifeline and lack ideology.

Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said there are no opposition parties in Zimbabwe and Africa, adding that with high unemployment in the country, individuals have resorted to the political field for personal gains.

He said it is not surprising therefore that political parties built from such backgrounds failed to survive.

“It’s a problem we have in Zimbabwe and Africa in general.

“There are no political parties to talk about, like there is in the first world, where they have long lived parties like the Labour Party, Democrats and the Republicans,” said Mandaza.

“What we have in Zimbabwe are election or political platforms which call themselves parties. At the end of the day, one gets to a conclusion that they only proliferate as businesses, for personal gains not as political parties.

“One weighs between being unemployed and being an MP.

“Imagine as an MP one is entitled to a monthly salary of between $2 500 to $3 000.”

Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme said most political parties in Zimbabwe resemble Zanu PF as they lack internal democracy.

“What is lacking in almost all parties in Zimbabwe is internal democracy. As long as the small parties have no different ideological agenda from Zanu PF and lack internal democracy, don’t do congresses to elect leaders, but are owned by an all-powerful president who appoints and ‘disappoints’ party structures, in Zanu PF fashion, then they will neither garner support nor follower-ship as their programme is essentially a Zanu PF programme and are just out of Zanu PF due to personal differences,” said Saungweme.

“You don’t expect them to survive as opposition. They would have to join the undemocratic Zanu PF.”

Saungweme said even the main opposition party, the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa, has adopted the Zanu PF fashion of imposing leaders and failing to address issues of gender parity, especially in the composition of its presidium.

“But even with bigger parties like MDC Alliance copying and pasting Zanu PF ways of appointing leaders and even surpassing Zanu PF on an all-male bloated presidium of four men — a president and three deputies, it is just a matter of time such a project implodes from within,” he said.

“To oppose a ruling party you need to have more internal democracy they lack, you need to have learner and efficient leadership structures elected on meritocracy not appointed by an all-powerful president who was also appointed through manipulating party constitution and processes.” Daily News