Mugabe, Tsvangirai departure ushers competitive politics

HARARE - Zimbabweans are in for an exciting 2018 harmonised election as Zanu PF and the MDC go into this crucial contest without their two main political characters: Robert Mugabe and the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

The two had since 2002 elections fiercely contested each other in successive polls that have produced contested outcomes.

Mugabe, who over those years led the ruling Zanu PF and stood as it’s presidential candidate, was deposed by the army in November while Tsvangirai, who has been the MDC president for 18 years succumbed to cancer on February 14.

Mugabe has been succeeded by Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, while Tsvangirai was succeeded by Nelson Chamisa, 40.

Analysts told the Daily News on Sunday that their departure opens up the political space in unprecedented ways

Political analyst MacDonald Lewanika said over the years, Tsvangirai and Mugabe were towering figures on Zimbabwe’s political land scape where they dominated space and it was very difficult to challenge them.

“Mnangagwa is no Mugabe and will never have the kind of hegemonic control over Zanu that Mugabe had. Chamisa is no Tsvangirai and as we can see there are many taking shots at his head,” Lewanika said.

At the very least, he said, Zimbabwe is opening up for more competitive politics with more players beyond the two hegemonic parties.

“I think this year we will say good bye to Zanu PF and MDC’s monopolies in Parliament as other actors move in to pluck what they can from the less than consolidated support of Mnangagwa and Chamisa,” he said.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said it was exciting that this is indeed the first time post 2000 when the ballot papers will not feature both Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

“However, my take is that their shadows will be casting a long shadow on this election. All those that will be campaigning for Mnangagwa are doing so on the strength of how far they will discredit Mugabe and how faraway are they drifting from his propositions.

“However, reality shows that Mnangagwa is operating within the big shoes of Mugabe, his central committee of the party were inherited from the veteran ruler and so are his ministers in government cut from Mugabe’s cloth.

“The budgetary thinking and subsequent way of operating is virtually software acquired from Mugabe, so his shadow is a big factor in this whole process,” Moyo said.

On the other hand, opined Moyo, “the MDC candidate, likely to be Chamisa, is equally leaning on Tsvangirai’s social capital and base, hence it’s the Tsvangirai factor which will be annexed to Chamisa’s propositions.

“In as much as the ballot papers will not feature the two enigma politicians, in reality, it’s the last frontier of the veteran leaders having influence in an election.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the presidential contest will be drama-filled.

“It will pit youthful, energetic and eloquent Chamisa versus old, tired and more-of-the same Mnangagwa. There is no doubt that Chamisa will come out favourite in terms of wooing crowds and oratory dexterity. If the poll were to be free and fair, Chamisa would win.

“But a combination of factors — uneven play field tilted in Mnagangawa’s favour — military fear factor, Zanu PF-politicised Zimbabwe Election Commission, monopolisation of public media by Zanu PF and lack of electoral reforms.

“These will ensure that Mnangangwa is declared winner even if Chamisa has the numbers. Unless Chamisa pulls something new from his sleeves, we are likely to have same scenario where Zanu PF presidential candidate loses the poll but is declared winner,” said Saungweme.

To this extent, he added, the presidential election will be a charade like the past unless the opposition devises a strategy to reclaim the peoples’ vote once stolen.

“Tsvangirai failed on this and I don’t think Chamisa will succeed on this aspect. So as far as the presidential election is concerned, we are likely to have the opposition winning and the Zanu PF candidate sworn-in as president.

“Otherwise the military coup will go in history as a coup that ousted a ruling party president and replaced them a few months later with an opposition party yet the military that did the coup is Zanu PF.”

Saungweme said in terms of parliamentary polls, this one will be more dramatic and full of surprises.

“We are likely to have more independent candidates this time with some who broke away from MDC and Zanu PF as well as some who were never affiliated with either of the parties.

“We are likely to have some sitting Zanu PF MPs rebelling the likely imposition of ex-soldiers to run in their stead, and these will break away and run as independents.

“We also likely to have some disgruntled MDC members not favouring alliance vying as independents. A few of these independents will get into Parliament, but the number will not be significant as winning depends on political party endorsement as the power of the party is becoming more critical should it be Zanu PF or opposition.

“We are also likely this time to have a situation where we have more opposition MPs in Parliament than before as it will be more difficult for Zanu PF to effectively rig parliamentary polls than presidential. A likely possibility is a majority opposition Parliament under a ruling party president.”

Political analyst Vivid Gwede said a stagnated political and electoral contest between the personalities of Mugabe and Tsvangirai has ended, but the fundamental struggle for democratisation of the state continues.

“It’s not a new drama, but just a new cast. The fight between the post-independence ideas and the nationalist entitlement of the liberation generation remains alive. Although it is not a new world, a change of the political climate and breath of fresh air has occurred to our political life.

“A generational shift representative of the new demographic realities has also occurred in the opposition leadership, which is a fundamental shift in the 2018 elections. This generational shift which saw Chamisa’s rise in the opposition and which the ruling party failed to achieve in the November transition now leaves MDC Alliance and Zanu PF worlds apart.

“In Zanu PF, there was only a leadership change without a remarkable generational shift, while in the MDC both have occurred at once. This leaves the opposition MDC Alliance well-placed to capture the imagination of a new generation sooner or later,” said Gwede.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said this is an interesting election pitting new faces though the leading candidates have long histories in their parties and politics.

“I am looking forward to a ballot with Mnangagwa, Chamisa and Joice Mujuru, as that represents some change of sorts.

“The key issue is whether all candidates can be allowed to campaign freely and in rural areas so that the contest is free and fair.

“Change is unpredictable and depends on those with power and that is Mnangagwa and Zanu PF. The question is will they allow a handover of power to Chamisa? If Zimbabwe is to progress, Zanu PF must be prepared for a free and fair election and indeed handing over power if defeated,” said Mukundu.


Comments (1)

Who said Mugabe won't be in the election race? What if stands as an independent? or joins another party? kkkkk

Citizen - 26 February 2018

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