Possible political scenarios for 2018 elections

HARARE - As we fast approach next year’s crucial elections, political analysts are already working on possible scenarios that might emerge before, during and after the plebiscite.

While it is difficult to tell with certainty how the situation could pan out in the coming months given that a day in the life of a politician is like eternity, developments of the past few weeks — both in Zanu PF and the opposition — have given social and political commentators enough fodder that makes for interesting analysis.

By and large, the political prognosis for Zimbabwe is forlorn, tricky, and treacherous and must also be a cause for serious concern for the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region and the African Union (AU), which act as referees in troubled situations.

As for the ruling party, recent developments in the liberation war movement are ominous.

It’s sad, analysts reasoned, that nothing has been learnt from history which is replete with examples that point to the futility of needless conflict.

A section of analysts predict that come December, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa could be an ordinary card-carrying Zanu PF member, or a key member of the opposition, following his fallout with the first family.

Should that happen, this school of thought sees an interesting replacement in the top echelons of Zanu PF, with President Robert Mugabe remaining at the top despite his advanced age and frailty — deputised by  Phelekezela Mphoko and possibly Sydney Sekeramayi, who has emerged from nowhere to be counted among the dark horses in the succession race.

Few believe the ruling party will split because of the enormous influence Mugabe has over everything that is Zanu PF.

All they see is a shift of allegiance as those that were backing Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe either shape-up or face a sweeping purge.

To ensure the party remains strong, former vice president Joice Mujuru’s allies would be allowed to return; this has already been happening.

Events in the main opposition, the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, also drew interesting views from analysts.

Opinion is split on whether Tsvangirai should continue to serve in view of his battle with colon cancer.

Reformists believe the MDC leader should rest and hand the baton to a capable successor.

Few, however, see him exiting office: They say Tsvangirai has become intoxicated with the quest for power, and will rather die in the race.

Regardless, analysts’ assessment of the opposition’s chances of pulling a surprise at the 2018 polls is damning; they opined that the opposition seems like passengers in the electoral race.

Had the opposition been united, victory at the polls could have been guaranteed.

The worst case scenario could have been another government of national unity.

Here are some of the possible scenarios harvested by the Daily News on Sunday from social and political commentators:

Will Mugabe still be fit to stand as Zanu PF presidential candidate in 2018, if not who might stand? Will Zanu PF be united going into the election given the spat between its first and second secretaries?

“Mugabe has always been adjudged unfit to stand for a long time based on age and health but has always stood for election.

“If he is alive, he is likely to stand — if he dies, the Constitution outlines a path to succession, which should see Zanu PF filling the void through one of the current vice presidents and then going through a process to elect a presidential candidate to stand in the elections.

“But for as long as Mugabe lives and breathes, it is in the interests of both factions in Zanu PF to even wheel him into an election.” — MacDonald Lewanika

“Mugabe will continue to be frail going forward. But having been able to conduct the interface rallies, he appears set to run in the 2018 elections.

“He has already lasted a chunk of the campaign. If he fails somehow, he appears to be favouring Sydney Sekeramayi for now.

“The tiff between Mugabe and Mnangagwa guarantees a divided Zanu PF in the elections.

“What can only be speculated about is the extent of the divisions. If Mnangagwa is kicked out, I don’t see him forming a party, but probably trying to find allies in the opposition and becoming a power broker.” — Vivid Gwede

“Mugabe will be the undisputed Zanu PF candidate though in poor state of health. With the speed at which the fallout between Mnangagwa and Mugabe is unfolding, ED will be pushed out of government before the election or shortly after. He is likely going to make mistakes that will justify his purging.

“If ED is pushed out, the majority of his followers will re-align themselves with Mugabe — it’s all about securing their interests. Mnangagwa won’t pose a major threat to Mugabe who still controls the State apparatus.

“Mugabe still has many levers at his disposal to neutralise Mnangagwa. Since everyone in Zanu PF has committed one major crime or another, Mugabe can prefer to harass his deputy with a litany of accusations and charges that will take the venom out of him.”

— Farai Maguwu

“It is evident that Mugabe is physically and mentally unfit to continue running Zimbabwe given the fact that he has lost control of his government and party.

“If, for argument’s sake, the Zanu PF party insists on putting him forward as their candidate, they will not win it.

“If the president is possibly out of contention to be considered to run, in my view, they are likely to field Mnangagwa, who seems to have solid structures already in place to take over from Mugabe.

“The so-called spat between Mugabe and ED are manifestations of unresolved personal differences, which have now grown to include the whole party machinery from the lowest to the highest, in particular in the politburo and central committee.

“But when you look closer to the grassroots Zanu PF structures, you get a sense that the majority of the membership is agreed that Mugabe is very old and unfit to continue as president of both country and party. However, because of the greedy within their ranks, they are blocking each other from assuming power because of the fear of losing the economic privileges that they have continued to enjoy under the confused situation.

“The Grace Mugabe-led side believes that they are God-ordained to take over the presidency, while the ED side believes that the Zezurus have ruled for a long time, hence have to be replaced by a non-Zezuru, which is a legitimate concern, but laced with tribal rhetoric.”

— Precious Shumba

“Chances are high that Mugabe will stand as a party presidential candidate for Zanu PF in 2018.

“While age is catching up, he still demonstrates mental agility. His party is divided on the succession issue but Zanu PF realises that losing power will spell doom to the luxurious lifestyles that the top leadership inclusive of top security and civil servants are used to.

“So Zanu PF will coalesce around Mugabe and Mugabe will not spring any surprises on ED fearing splitting the party.

“ED equally realises the true meaning of the Zanu PF statement that it is cold out there. Essentially, everything he has is owed to his links with Zanu PF and the part is ruthless in dealing with its own, the case of Solomon Mujuru vilified even in death being a case in point.

“So, Lacoste and Generation 40 (G40) will likely join hands even if it means by the finger tips towards 2018 and Mugabe will push hard for that, while keeping both factions on their toes.

“Post 2018 is when things will come to a head, but a day is long in politics to determine what will happen post the election even before the election.”

—Rashweat Mukundu

“For starters, Mugabe is already not fit for anything — surviving only on arrogant senility. He speaks with a slurred voice and can hardly walk without support, so he has no stamina to withstand the rigors of electoral campaigning. Zanu PF has two choices: Mnangagwa or Sekeramayi.”

— Rejoice Ngwenya

“Zimbabwe’s political terrain is toxic, glum and unpromising. It is likely that instead of having elections and democratic transition in 2018, we are going to have a period of state capture by the military and some military rule or coup of sorts.

“The military is likely to move in given the deadly friction within Zanu PF where the whole military establishment is being challenged by G40.

“Mugabe did a pretty horrid political job of militarising public institutions.

“It worked to his advantage against a strong united MDC of 1999. Now with G40 and its evident leaders the first lady and a lot of jonnies-come-lately challenging this very military establishment, taking advantage of warning faculties of the president, we are likely to see this being resisted by the military.

“Significant sections of the military will go all the way to support Mnangagwa.

“Even the latest airport admonition of Ngwena by Mugabe after Ngwena went all the way to assert that he was poisoned does not bode well for Zanu PF. Mugabe will take action.

“Ngwena will likely retaliate using his support from war veterans and the military. So it’s possible that Zanu PF will split and the country’s governance will be taken over for a while by the military.

“So, elections may not happen in 2018. If they do, Mugabe is unlikely to be candidate due to age and ill-health. Instead you will see two Zanu PF factions contesting elections with G40 fielding Sekeramayi while Lacoste fields Ngwena.

“We will also have Mai Mujuru (Joice) standing in with her semi-ZANU PF party. So these will be three Zanu PF’s.”

— Maxwell Saungweme

If Mnangagwa is finally fired, what will he do, form his own party?

“If Mnangagwa is fired, he will have multiple choices including forming his own party — but Mujuru’s experience has shown that a powerful VP doesn’t always make a powerful opposition leader outside the State. His best bet would be to wait it out and try to stage a comeback in 2019 at Congress, or wait for Mugabe to pass on for him to make a return to the political fold”.

— Lewanika

“ED in my view is not going anywhere. He is firmly rooted in Zanu PF.

“The provocations by the Grace-led team are largely informed by their fears of the future without Mugabe’s protection.

“Currently, they enjoy the impunity because they are mostly related to the Mugabe family and hence they have a lot to lose if the tables are turned.

“ED realises that those opposed to him are in panic mode. So he will remain there using his quiet advocacy and lobbying and strengthening his hand.

“But I do not foresee him leaving Zanu PF before the next elections, unless someone decides to terminate him by assassination or further poisoning to end him”.

— Shumba

“Mnangagwa is under siege, but nothing other than a Zanu PF constitutional overhaul in December can displace him, unless if Zanu PF strategists want to risk losing Masvingo. Nonetheless, Zanu PF will never split, but will unite around whoever Mugabe anoints”. — Ngwenya

Will MDC’s Tsvangirai still be fit to stand as MDC Alliance presidential candidate, if not who might stand? If Tsvangirai decides to step down due to ill health who do you think will become the party’s president?

“I think whether Tsvangirai will be fit or not will be clear by December, or the time of the sitting of the nomination court.

“If he is not fit, which is a possibility, then probably one of his three deputies will assume leadership. This is what I would call the Adama Barrow scenario because it is like what happened in The Gambia, where an unlikely candidate emerged to lead the opposition coalition and win the presidency, when the known opposition leader couldn’t run.

“Nelson Chamisa is a saleable candidate especially among the young generation, but he will be affected by uncertainties around his age.

“If the normal course is followed he will be eligible to run for a July or August poll. That depends on whether the MDC Alliance settles for him.

“However, Mugabe might call for an early election by Zanu PF using its majority to dissolve Parliament and ensure that by the time of the nomination court he is not yet 40 years and not eligible.

“The other option is for the MDC Alliance to choose among themselves a consensus candidate not necessarily from the MDC. We have seasoned opposition names like Tendai Biti or Welshman Ncube. The other possibility is that if Tsvangirai fails to run the MDC Alliance will collapse because of lack of agreement on the leadership question”. — Gwede

“It’s not an easy thing to replace Tsvangirai on the eve of an election. He has been the brand holder for MDC since 1999 and his replacement must be handled with caution as it has a bearing on the performance of the party.

“The next leader must be given ample time to unite the party behind him/her. If Tsvangirai is unable to continue the party must go for an early congress to choose his successor”. — Maguwu

“Tsvangirai, just like Mugabe is unfit to stand the pressure of political office. However, it would be extremely confusing to the electorate if Tsvangirai was to step aside for a younger Nelson Chamisa, who I believe has the charisma and the staying power to sustain a campaign against a highly- mobilised Zanu PF.

“The next election will be driven by the youths; hence a youthful Chamisa is in my view the likely suitable replacement for Tsvangirai.

“The other immediate option would be Douglas Mwonzora, who has strong beliefs and a willing mind to tackle Zanu PF’s propaganda machinery. But in my view, Chamisa stands a better chance given his position in the MDC”. — Shumba

“Tsvangirai may need to seriously think about passing on the baton to the young generation.

“He has done well in pushing Mugabe and the agenda of democracy and unlike Zanu PF the MDC must demonstrate that power can be peacefully transferred in the party.

“Whether fit or not Tsvangirai must be thinking of the future and 2018 is a good starting point to build the future of the opposition by working towards a power transition and uniting various forces including emerging political groups and independents.

“Without this then the MDC will likely continue splintering until there is nothing but a name and a history. Instead of focusing on personalities Zimbabwe must now focus on the quality of leadership and our expectations of that leadership. Without that leadership transition will not mean much but a Ngoma Ndiyo Ndiyo scenario of abuse, corruption that can even get worse”. — Mukundu

“Tsvangirai may be ‘fit’ as a leader but he is also physically exhausted. Again, given the rigours of electoral combat, it is a high-risk manoeuvre to invest in a brand whose life cycle one is not sure of.

“The MDC Alliance principals must immediately seek the highest level in medical advice, so that they make up their minds.

“My take it that either Nelson Chamisa as potential MDC president or Welshman Ncube as MDC president will be considered as credible Alliance substitute leaders. (Thokozani) Khupe has already poisoned the atmosphere with her arrogance, unless is she completely accept the alliance order of things”. — Ngwenya

“In the event that Tsvangirai’s health fails, you are likely to see Chamisa or Khupe leading a coalition where MDC is in”. — Saungweme

Are there any prospects for a grand coalition of opposition parties? If not, will we see any mergers of particular political parties; hence the creation of more than one coalition? How can this shape up – what kind of groupings can we anticipate?

“Possibilities of a grand coalition are fast running out as inter and intra party conflicts escalate. The likelihood is that there will be multiple unions but possibly two Major alliances - the MDC alliance and the alliance led by NPP’s Joice Mujuru- possibly as CODE. Other candidates like the NCA and Apa have already stated that they are unlikely to coalesce with others,” — Lewanika

“Already we have two opposition groups existing one led by Tsvangirai under the MDC Alliance and the coalition around Mujuru’s NPP. The possibility of a single coalition is there if the NPP and the MDC Alliance coalesce,” — Gwede

“I don’t think we are that politically mature to come up with one grand coalition. The opposition establishment is too heterogeneous and deeply infiltrated by State security to an extent that it’s nearly impossible to come up with a genuine opposition coalition against Zanu PF.

“What is likely to happen is the emergence of at least two coalitions, one under MDC and the other around Mujuru”.

—Maguwu

“In my view there is going to be more than one alliance, one led by Tsvangirai, another one led by Joice Mujuru, while yet other individual candidates like Nkosana Moyo will likely go it alone, just like Lovemore Madhuku of the NCA.

“The major coalitions would be led by Tsvangirai and Mujuru, and what I foresee is that they will tacitly avoid each other on the ground to give Zanu PF a torrid time.

“However, the individual candidates like Madhuku and Moyo should not be underestimated as they will likely snatch a considerable number of votes, the dissenters, who support neither Mujuru nor Tsvangirai”.

— Shumba

“A grand coalition has already failed as the parties to the coalitions are already splintering and we have as many coalitions to make political sense.

“The coalitions appear to be of power hungry and desperate politicians and not representing the hungry and desperate citizens. The people’s agenda is not represented within the coalitions and on that front opposition parties and coalitions are similar to Zanu PF.” — Mukundu

“There will definitely be opposition alliances — grand — not so sure, because CODE will not be wished away. I think an MDC Alliance will field a stronger brand than the others who will attract miniscule votes which will simply give Zanu PF an edge, but not a Parliamentary majority.

“Zimbabwe politics is either black or white, no middle ground, no dark horses. The Madhukus and Moyos are there to make up the numbers, political bridesmaids”.

— Ngwenya

Is there any possibility of a dark horse emerging from nowhere?

“A dark horse is unlikely — the work of registering possible voters has begun and part of a candidate’s work is to get potential voters registered. The dark horse scenario may be plausible if Tsvangirai and Mugabe step off the stage — that would create a totally new dynamic scenario”. — Leawanika

“The dark horse could come from the MDC Alliance in the event that Tsvangirai cannot continue. I call it the (Adama) Barrow scenario following what happened in The Gambia”. — Gwede

“A dark horse is very unlikely to emerge. There is general suspicion among the electorate over candidates who appear shortly before elections. The general feeling is that such people are planted by ZAanu PF to divide the opposition vote”. — Maguwu

“A dark horse will not likely be embraced by the electorate, given the time factor and the enduring presence of the other opposition who have fought Zanu PF for nearly two decades. There is a high possibility of another GNU in Zimbabwe, with MDC Alliance, CODE, and Zanu PF likely to be the main actors”. — Shumba

“The current Zimbabwe political landscape does not provide for a dark horse as society is steeped in organised political formations.

“Independent candidates and newcomers, no matter how capable and genuine are vilified and pulled down. Our politics is not that mature to accommodate dissenters and that is both within the ruling and opposition parties. Zimbabwe’s politics will, if at all, transition for the better after Mugabe and not before him.

“When all is said and done you realize that we all have a Zanu PF mentality to politics, which is a legacy that will take radical measures and another generation to cleanse”. — Rashweat Mukundu

Do we have any possibility of another Government of National Unity (GNU) and who might be the key players this time around?

“A GNU is always a possibility but is only likely if there is a stalemate politically. Without it Zanu PF would prefer to vomit alone because the next government is also critical for Mugabe’s succession. Who can be part of a GNU can only be determined by performance in the political field next year — right now it is too early to tell”. — Lewanika

“A GNU scenario is a wild card, but that wild card is on the table. It will pit the opposition coalition and Mnangagwa’s allies, if they are sidelined in Zanu PF, and Mugabe is defeated in the 2018 elections, through the help of an internal sabotage campaign”.

— Gwede

“A GNU is a possibility and in my view a necessary evil. Due to deep polarisation and the reality that those with state power have no people and those with the people can’t wrestle power, Zimbabwe needs a long transition that can only take place through a GNU.

“My take has always been that it was a big mistake to end the GNU. It was better even to amend the constitution and allow the GNU to continue for a decade to allow for economic transformation and inter-party dialogue. We are fast returning to 2008 because of the ill-advised decision to railroad us into the sham 2013 election.

“If Tendai Biti was still the Minister of Finance the bond note was never going to be introduced and the long banking queues would still be associated only with the pre-2008 era”. — Maguwu

“As indicated earlier, Nkosana Moyo should not be underestimated. He has clarity and in my view will attract a considerable number of followers.

“People like Strive Masiyiwa or Nigel Chanakira would be ideal to spice up the political scene and rejuvenate the politics of Zimbabwe. But the general acceptable viewpoint across the nation is that the opposition has to come together and rally against Zanu PF as one solid block, irrespective of whether or not they are happy with the arrangement.

“The grassroots believes that the only chance at changing our politics is a united opposition that looks beyond positions of power in the event of a win, but should firstly concentrate on winning against a strong Zanu PF that easily unites against a threatening opposition. So the thought of a dark horse is not acceptable to the majority of the opposition forces in existence”. — Shumba

“Thus if we ever are to have elections we will have five political formations with significant following — two Zanu PF factions, Mai Mujuru’s semi-Zanu PF party and two opposition coalitions. This will lead to elections where a clear leader is not defined and then talks for a GNU of sort”. — Saungweme

Comments (5)

#ThisFlag. Evan Mawarire will lead the opposition into power

Mumate - 8 October 2017

kkk G40 will be defeated .

Grace Jones - 8 October 2017

munangagwa idofo aifunga kuti huvice president angoita it was a calculated move

g40 - 8 October 2017

My sense is that;no,1: this concept of the dark horse scenario shld not at all b discarded bec as things stand now it might emerge to compensate what seem to basically lack in both ruling & opposition camps, the electorate seems unpredictable as they seem now are somewhat disillusioned by both the ruling party antics & those of the opposition camp.They seem now not confident with n side;and so the emergency of n credible campaigning with a lining of some measure of hope; might sweep to victory.Point no.2-it almost seems a sure bet that Zanu pf will prevail come 2018 unless& until the opposition rejuvenates, reorganize& start on a fresh page -where personality cults are dropped & are really able to support their claim of democratic dispensation with real outfits & example.This will actually initiates a charismatic aura of new modern voter interest which is observed in mature democracies like the USA,which might grow&spread like veld fire, to embrace the whole nation(both rural& urban)

addmore gudo - 8 October 2017

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jermiebancoco - 10 October 2017

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