Coalitions fail to unseat Mugabe

HARARE - Coalitions formed to unseat President Robert Mugabe since independence have failed as political leaders fight for positions.

Attempts by the MDC, Zapu, Zanu Ndonga and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn to form a coalition against Zanu PF have in the past failed amid accusations and counter accusations.

In recent weeks, Tendai Biti who is now leading the MDC renewal team has been seeking support from the civic society and other political parties for a proposed grand opposition movement.

The former finance minister and his allies are said to have met the smaller MDC leader Welshman Ncube, Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa to discuss the coalition initiative.

But the question is; can grand coalitions be the answer to unseating Mugabe? Will they ever work for Zimbabweans, and indeed for Biti?

There are others who believe a united front against Mugabe is the only answer to regime change. They believe the disputed electoral outcomes of the 2008 elections could have been mitigated by a coalition of the two MDC parties.

Macdonald Lewanika, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director said political coalitions have achieved different results in the past.

“The Zanu-Zapu coalition by all accounts has held firm and been successful and the others have really not been coalitions. Like the Mutambara-Ncube, it was a coming together of individuals in one political formation, not necessarily two or more political parties coming together.

“Having said that, coalition politics will rule the roost in Zimbabwe’s politics especially for the opposition, because the numbers are clear that without coming together of opposition forces, Zanu PF will be difficult to dislodge, so the opportunities are there,” said Lewanika.

He said the only way that a Biti coalition can deliver is if it brings with it the bulk of MDC support. “Without it, whether Welshman, Dabengwa, Makoni or Madhuku joins, the current statistics show that the numbers these parties command are not significant enough to move the state.

“But it will make way for good political optics, at the end of the day — a Biti coalition can only deliver if it creates room for a stable and all-embracing political settlement among the opposition beyond elite party leaders to take a significant share of the popular base that Tsvangirai seems to have a grip on at the moment.

“The other element will be the extent to which they can attract respected Zimbabweans from within and without the country, who though they may not be popular can make people pause and reconsider their support of another formation or parties outside ‘the coalition’ — without that, it is likely to be doomed, but with these ingredients chances for success are enhanced.”

Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu believes grand political coalitions can easily be coalitions of leaders without anyone behind them.

“Politicians must confer and seek people’s support and not each other’s support. So the Biti MDC grouping and many others must rather focus on winning citizen support and not formulate grand coalitions that easily crash at election time,” said Mukundu.

Political activist Tabani Moyo said what is happening at the moment is an acid test for opposition politics in Zimbabwe.

“The major challenge is the proposals for coalitions are not coming up as a genuine quest for consolidated coalitions, but rather formations of convenience.

“The opposition in Zimbabwe is at its weakest ebb since the early years of the new millennium. The spilt of the two factions in the MDC seems to be creating a ‘rush to the bottom’ syndrome to showcasing strength in numbers — whether at grassroots or political figures through convenience coalitions.

However, Moyo added, this is a diversionary approach to politics as the Tsvangirai formation did in luring other formations realising strife from within and the same has since happened with the Biti formation.

“But this is not the pressing question, the major question which requires answers is: Are the people of Zimbabwe ever going to take opposition political formations seriously thereafter? “In the end, these political figures will fight each other to the bitter end, as is with the case of the proverbial two dogs fighting for a bone, the third will grab it.

“Above all, when they are done with fighting they will realise that no one has been or is interested in the child play. The people of Zimbabwe will simply have moved on,” said Moyo.

Dewa Mavhinga, chairperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said, whether grand political coalitions work or not depends on a number of factors and it would be wrong to say because a coalition worked in one country then it will work for Zimbabwe as circumstances maybe very different.

“Grand political coalitions to take state power must take into account Zimbabwe’s unique and peculiar circumstances that include a deeply entrenched liberation war movement and highly politicised and partisan security forces that operate in close proximity to Zanu PF.

“The key to political change in Zimbabwe lies in the depoliticisation of security forces, the demilitarisation of civilian affairs and the capacity and ability of political parties to mobilise ordinary Zimbabweans for mass action,” said Mavhinga.

Comments (15)

Coalitions can work if they involve real parties with grassroots support. The tragedy of Zimbabweans is that individuals with no grassroots appeal rush to form coalitions in five star hotels. Of course the result is that only their wives vote for them. It is only logical that parties must establish structures first and once the structures are operational can they join coalitions. New political formations such as Biti's MDC-Team need to do the hard work of mobilizing masses across the whole spectrum of society. They must also recruit cadres from different disciples in society. We need strong coalitions and there is a lot of time between now and 2018. None but ourselves can liberate ourselves from this mess!

Jokoniya - 12 May 2014

Coalitions can work if they involve real parties with grassroots support. The tragedy of Zimbabweans is that individuals with no grassroots appeal rush to form coalitions in five star hotels. Of course the result is that only their wives vote for them. It is only logical that parties must establish structures first and once the structures are operational can they join coalitions. New political formations such as Biti's MDC-Team need to do the hard work of mobilizing masses across the whole spectrum of society. They must also recruit cadres from different disciplines in society. We need strong coalitions and there is a lot of time between now and 2018. None but ourselves can liberate ourselves from this mess!

Jokoniya - 12 May 2014

Yes we need a strong opposition coalition but let us ensure that Nikuv and Mudede have no negative influence to the outcome of elections. All Zimbos need to be on the lookout for rigging tactics by the dictator.

Hwendefa - 12 May 2014

Yes we need a strong opposition coalition but let us ensure that Nikuv and Mudede have no negative influence to the outcome of elections. All Zimbos need to be on the lookout for rigging tactics by the dictator.

Hwendefa - 12 May 2014

Beware of the rigging machinery. No coalition can win over a strong rigging machinery.

Rigger Mortice - 12 May 2014

Coalitions are good as long as they bring together people of like mind. There is no point of uniting communists, fascists and capitalists for the sake of removing ZANU PF. Such people will soon fight and lose direction.

Dana Mutana - 12 May 2014

There is a question above asking if any coalition can specifically for Biti. Yes it can depending on how Biti works between now and 2018. First, Biti and friends need to prove that they are a different breed from Tsvangirai and Mugabe. Tsvangirai and Mugabe have discredited themselves in the eyes of the voting public and what Biti needs is to simply point out the failures of the 2 in very articulate terms. Further than that, Biti needs to build up his grassroots support through massive recruitment. He is fortunate to have some members of the old MDC-T at his side. Such people must work flat out to re-energise his formation. After the structures are energized and intact, Biti must then approach those progressive elements of society both within Zim and in the diaspora to preach the new gospel. Having said all this there is need to ensure that there is no rigging. There is need therefore to have leverage through having the international community on the side of democracy and the coalition.

Sox - 12 May 2014

A coalition between Tsvangirai's MDC and Simba Makoni's Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn would prove to be a force to be reckoned with if only Simba was a serious politician. He seems to lack confidence yet he is one man who commands a lot of respect within ZANU, the opposition, business community and even internationally. A grand coaltion could work ionly with people who are not greedy for positions and after self enrichment.

Dr Know - 12 May 2014

We go for elections to prove popularity,so when you lose its not rigging or nikuv its unpopularity.

damit - 12 May 2014

hama dzakatopfuura nekuda kwezvigroup izvezvi?

Chidondova - 12 May 2014

You can't rebel against your leader & fool everyone by calling for a united coalition to unseat the gvt of the day. Biti is a pathetic hypocrite & failure.Who can trust a rebel,a traitor? Mugabe's failure has absolutely nothing to do with Tsvangirai.We can't compare 15yrs against 37yrs & claim to be fair. We all know what Tsvangirai is up against and yet we still hip all sorts of foolish outbursts against him. Some pple are simply good at criticizing but have nothing constructive to offer.It is very unfair to equate Mugabe's failure with that of Tsvangirai. Every struggle has its sell-outs,ups & downs.Ours is no exception but we will win.. Someone once said Zimbabweans ably analyze their political problems but cannot solve them! That is our greatest undoing & ZANU PF know that very well.

KURAUONE MAPENZI - 13 May 2014

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boreholes.. - 13 May 2014

Coalitions are good for leaders who have pple at heart. Look at ZANU-ZAPU coalition which is a clear example of leaders who had pple at heart. Nkomo (Joshua) as everyone can witness never had the lust for power but what he wanted was the pple of Zimbabwe to be free and own their land that's it. Even the stance being pursued by Bob shows that he is still in the footstep of the Zimbabwe's founding fathers. Nkomo and Mugabe knew what it meant to be a Zimbabwean and that is why they never had problems coz pple were in front.

truezimbo - 13 May 2014

A coalition led by Biti is sure to fail.A rebel leader can never be trusted.A power hungry wolf can never lead the people's struggle. The so-called 'STRATEGIST'is a clear disaster.May be he can be useful at ZANU PF. His insatiable love for money can get him to do the unthinkable.

Dzurumete Chimbwa - 13 May 2014

Since the arrival of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, lack mass support has never been the problem. The MDC has never been short of this critical voting mass. The abuse of state [ower , the use of the security sector and other state arms , including voter registration and deregistration the bias of the refree has been the reasons for the delayed exchange of power among the competing hands, The grand coalitioneers seem to believe that by just coalescing the several parties, then we can have the numbers to cause an exchange of power between hands.... I disagree and go along with Gewa Mavhingas analysis.

Sesel Zvidzai - 17 May 2014

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