Opposition caught flat-footed


HARARE – While the sudden political turn of events in Zanu PF’s factional fights that saw former President Robert Mugabe finally stepping down after 37 years in power surprised many in the country and those around the world, I am sure it caught opposition political parties flat-footed.

Over the past years opposition political parties have been demanding the resignation of Mugabe citing his advanced age and had contemplated impeaching him although without any success; they had complained bitterly that Zanu PF’s succession wars were affecting government business, hence called on the ruling party and in particular Mugabe to appoint a successor; they also complained about Mugabe’s capture by his wife who was now literally running the country.

But in a flash it seems all the misplaced cards just seemed to fall into place on their own as Mugabe was pushed out by the army and forced to resign while the succession matrix played out on its own with the elevation of Mnangagwa. 

Grace, who was fast positioning herself to the presidency was expelled from Zanu PF and lost her influential post in the party. With Mugabe gone, she also lost her position as first lady.

While the opposition had already geared itself to fight it out in the 2018 harmonised elections with Mugabe, 93, and Grace, that narrative has completely changed.

With Mugabe gone, the opposition has to change tactic as it is now facing a new Zanu PF presidential candidate and Zimbabwe’s new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa who is only 75 years old, energetic and very sound.

The stepping in of the army in Zanu PF politics which had seen the party torn into two factions — G40 and Lacoste — has stopped, albeit for now and the party we will for sure be fighting in next year’s contest as one.

While the army has stabilised issues within Zanu PF, the opposition is still fraught with its own factional fights that have even delayed the real birth of MDC Alliance, a grouping of opposition political parties that are geared to confront Manangagwa and Zanu PF.

The MDC Alliance itself, while it has managed to bring together political party leaders together, has seen disgruntlement within its ranks as other members are not buying the idea of this alliance.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC president and MDC Alliance leader has been unwell for quite sometime now as he frequents neighbouring South Africa for treatment, and he hasn’t done much, if anything at all in terms of campaigning for next year’s vote.

But time is running out for the MDC Alliance and next year’s election is just a stone throw away. The alliance hadn’t really met the people with their manifesto so as to explain their vision and this they have to carry out in all provinces.

While Zanu PF had the past year been campaigning heavily through the youth interface rallies, that effort has gone to nought and the opposition should count itself lucky because it means now the ruling party’s campaign will have to start afresh.

The problem I see with the MDC Alliance is that they seem to be relaxed and would want to seriously start campaigning when Zanu PF commences its own.

That will be dangerous.

Mnangagwa and Zanu PF will outpace the opposition because they are financially oiled and they can use State resources so much that their reach will be wider and quicker.

The opposition and in particular MDC Alliance will need a lot of money to hit a “hot” campaign like the opposition had in 2000 and 2008 where their presence was felt everywhere; they had massive budgets for campaign adverts in both print and electronic media, they had cars to use for campaigns, they had money to buy party regalia and they had funds to traverse the country.

Do the opposition parties in Zimbabwe today have that sought of financial muscle?

And when Mnangagwa tells the world that the elections will be free, fair and democratic, he should have assessed the opposition’s strength!