Wake-up call for MDC

HARARE - With the general and presidential elections about four years away, the defeat of the MDC by Zanu PF in a by-election in Chitungwiza may seem irrelevant.

This was after all just a small ward.

Simpson Mhike of Zanu PF secured 993 against 91 votes for Kenneth Chinyaure of the MDC.

However, the MDC will ignore this defeat at its own peril. Before the last elections, several pollsters had indicated that the opposition party was heading for defeat. The MDC did not seem to take such polls seriously.

While the eventual results were quite controversial, with plausible suspicions of rigging, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai admitted that the crowds at his rallies, in particular the massive Cross-Over rally in Harare, were quite deceptive about the party’s overall support.

The MDC has ruled the roost in the urban areas since its formation in 1999. That it can be defeated with such a heavy margin in a ward should concern the party, no matter how small the election or distant the main elections may be.

Before the MDC dismisses Zanu PF’s weekend victory as a flash in the pan, it is, in fact, the fourth time the MDC has lost ward by-elections (Mbare, Mkoba and Kadoma) since last year’s elections. 

Unless the MDC can produce evidence of electoral malpractice, these results should worry the party.

Traditionally, by-elections, produce the opposite results — favouring the opposition.

The world over, such elections have been used to ventilate anger towards unpopular governments in the middle of their tenures, even from their own supporters.

The message to such governments is “if you do not change course, this is how we are going to vote in the main election.”

In Britain, for example, the Conservative party is set to lose in two by-elections to the UK Independence Party (Ukip) which campaigns against membership to the European Union (EU) and stronger immigration controls.

The vote itself would not mean the UK electorate wishes to see Ukip leader, Nigel Farage — a heavy smoker and prolific guzzler — at Number 10 Downing Street.

Instead, it is a popular expression of disgruntlement towards the Conservative-led coalition, particularly on its failure to stem immigration from Europe.

Farage, an accomplished orator, has been adept at articulating concerns on and effects of uncontrolled immigration that have struck a chord with the British population.

One would assume that, with the perceived unpopularity of the Zanu PF government’s policies, the MDC would be able to harness the anger in these mid-term by-elections. 

Since the last election, the state of the economy has barely improved despite Zanu PF’s much-vaunted turn-around strategy, ZimAsset. 

Many companies have been forced to shut down and the promised 2,2 million jobs, 250 000 low income houses, 310 new public schools and 300 more clinics by 2018 seem illusory.

It was only last week that former finance minister and MDC renewal team leader, Tendai Biti warned that Zimbabwe was heading towards a virtual economic lock down.

Despite these grim predictions, the by-elections so far have not been sending the message of disgruntlement to Zanu PF for it to alter direction. One wonders if its proposed mass protests can materialise.

The fact that the recent by-elections have confounded electoral tradition (anger towards government) means either the people have faith in the Zanu PF project or the MDC has simply failed to discredit it.

The MDC seems complacent about the urban vote. Perhaps, the MDC believes the apparent vote-splitting effects of the current factionalism in Zanu PF would automatically produce results in its favour.

The weekend defeat proved otherwise. The margin of defeat does not reflect a party that mounted any serious campaign at all.

It could be that yet another MDC split and its historical failure to deal with electoral fraud each time have dampened hopes among voters in its traditional strongholds.

Whatever the case, the MDC has to find answers if it is ever going to form government.

The recent by-election result should be a wake-up call.

Comments (16)

The problem is that ZANU PF is using intimidation and threats on a population that has suffered enough and has for all purposes lost hope of salvation. I wait for the day Mugabe the goblin goes to meet his maker and hope that ZANU PF will implode or at least the military and police who at the moment are part of the ZANU PF machinery see the light.

Bingo Wokwa Gutu - 7 October 2014

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waa - 7 October 2014

the MDC is now fading. it used to have a large following in urban areas and now it is loosing grip. it is now a wake up call for the part leaders to stand up before the 2018 elections. if it fails to change its strategy then in 2018 it will be history- dead and buried.

apapo - 7 October 2014

can't you read the trend here, no mdc supporter is going to these polls becoz to them it doesn't change anything. zanu pf brings people from rural areas in zupco buses so that it wins with great margins and even inflate figures to send the message to the world that they are still popular . nothing surprising here guys , l smell a rat here!

hanga - 7 October 2014

can't you read the trend here, no mdc supporter is going to these polls becoz to them it doesn't change anything. zanu pf brings people from rural areas in zupco buses so that it wins with great margins and even inflate figures to send the message to the world that they are still popular . nothing surprising here guys , l smell a rat here!

hanga - 7 October 2014

can't you read the trend here, no mdc supporter is going to these polls becoz to them it doesn't change anything. zanu pf brings people from rural areas in zupco buses so that it wins with great margins and even inflate figures to send the message to the world that they are still popular . nothing surprising here guys , l smell a rat here!

hanga - 7 October 2014

The voters roll has since been tempered with and is hidden. Dont rule out Mdc. Remember MT has announced his pull out from these predetermined elections.

Kengex - 7 October 2014

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eee - 7 October 2014

This man is rich. Kana munhu achitadza kuziva value yema assets ake. The question here is did he declare everything. These people are very clever otherwise most assets are in relatives` names. Watch out. Remember he was the minister of mines for years so ……….

--mupfumi - 7 October 2014

mdc would have been popular had their leader been up to the task during gnu. instead, the guy was busy searching for a madam everywhere. that in particular did not go well with some section of his colleagues and followers. the honourable thing to do for this guy is to leave leadership to others other than sacrifice the party. if not, here are the signs of the party imploding.

sunga - 7 October 2014

Bingo Wokwa Gutu, do you mind sharing with us your experience of intimidation by ZANU PF after which you went on to vote for it.

Ndugu - 7 October 2014

Those hoping that MDC-T will somehow spring a surprise on ZPF are no different from harahwa irikurota ichiyamwa!!....in other words, day-dreaming!!

ZVOKWADI - 7 October 2014

wake up call works when someone is capable of waking up. mdc t is beyond waking up you may as well burry the party and its leadership. its now splintered beyond repair. party chahiyo yakaenda na biti. haana kutya ku challenger vakuru sezvinoita vamwe kuita makore asinga pere nemunhu one when the country has many capable minds.

zvirozviyedzwa - 8 October 2014

kkkkkk ndamuka ini.urayanai tione.

eliot manyika - 8 October 2014

mdc is now as good as dead. the few supporters they have dont go to vote. isu ve ZANUPF tinoenda kunovhota

wind - 8 October 2014

These elections are useless mdc t supporters do not bother them selves to vote when they will be no change at all . But what i see is that zanu will be deceived by these elections results and think that they have regained their mojo in urban areas .Actually come next election in 2018 zanu will have a shock of their lives . They is nothing that can make mdc t panic about meaningless elections .

Diibulaanyika - 8 October 2014

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