Opposition must not drop the ball


HARARE - Events of the last three weeks were so compelling that millions of Zimbabweans — both those domiciled here and the Diaspora, respectively — broke with tradition as they all put a united front to see former president Robert Mugabe’s back.

The unity displayed was touching as Zimbabweans believed that there was no other chance of bringing to an end Mugabe’s 37-year dominance of politics in this country, which was often characterised by ruinous policies.

What was surprising, however, was the energy that was expended before these events by the pro-democracy, rights group, some civic society leaders and prominent officials, in the internal affairs of Zanu PF to the extent that one would have been forgiven for thinking that they had become appendages of the former liberation movement.

To say this was jarring is an understatement.

What this exposed to the general populace was that the opposition and key figures within the civil society movement were more interested in Zanu PF outcomes than rallying the general public to go and register to vote for next year’s crucial elections.

The appetite to lure voters appears to have gone as there is now heated debate on whether the opposition should be part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government or not.

Unfortunately, the general populace in Zimbabwe has proven consistently that it mimics what political leaders do and there are no guarantees that many are still thinking about the biometric voter registration exercise.

As demonstrated by their preferred opposition leaders, most of their followers will wait and see what will happen in the coming days when Mnangagwa is expected to announce his new Cabinet.

But in hindsight they both might see this as the moment the window for clawing much-needed voters closed.

The reality is that this kind of naivety benefits Zanu PF as it now has all the four aces, if we may have to use this cliché.

Mnangagwa can decide to go without including anyone within the opposition ranks and put comprehensive reforms capable of just seeing him and Zanu PF over the line, come 2018 elections.

Or he can have them on board and blight their focus to the detriment of their relevance as opposition but for his and Zanu PF’s.

We saw that during the short-lived era of the government of national unity.

Mugabe charmed the opposition while he was preparing for its horrendous defeat at the polls.

The opposition must not drop the ball.