Grand coalition fails to take off

HARARE - Chances of opposition political parties forming a grand coalition to battle with Zanu PF at the forthcoming polls are narrowing to zero with more and more disjointed alliances emerging each day, the Daily News can report.

While opposition leaders concur that the only way to end Zanu PF’s rule is through a combined effort to be carried out through a grand coalition, time seems to be running out for over 100 political parties that are seeking to end the ruling party’s 37 years in power.

Zanu PF has been in power since 1980 when the country got its independence from Britain and has over the years been accused of running down the economy and dragging Zimbabweans to record poverty.

But as each day passes, the dream of bringing all the opposition political parties together to field a single presidential candidate, while sharing parliamentary seats among the parties is becoming close to a nightmare, with high chances it will not come to fruition on time, if ever it will.

Political analysts have said time is of essence in this cumbersome quest to bring minds of different political figures on the same page.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme told the Daily News that the prospects of a grand opposition coalition were slim as all political parties in the opposition have different interests while some are mere plants of Zanu PF.

He said some of the opposition parties are not even aiming to be the next government but are contend with the official status of being opposition.

“The main opposition party has shown it’s incompetence in coalition building and its lack of internal democracy and lack of tolerance for divergent views. How can such an intolerant outfit lead a grand coalition?” he queried.

“At the same time, the other coalitions are plagued with same problems — lack of internal democracy and intolerance to divergent views. You also have an army of independent candidates who don’t feel they have to relate to any party or coalition.

“At best, the situation lands itself to five or so coalitions of opposition and not one grand coalition. The dream of a grand coalition is as far flung and a long shot as (Nelson) Chamisa’s bullet train dream. It’s not something that can be achieved in a short-term but in a few decades,” added Saungweme.

Already, several coalition groups have emerged Among these are MDC Alliance, a grouping of seven political parties headed by Chamisa, the MDC leader; the People’s Rainbow Coalition, led by National People’s Party (NPP) president Joice Mujuru and Coalition of Democrats led by Elton Mangoma.

Mujuru’s party has made it clear that it would need an equal representation of all the political parties involved.

This alone will create problems especially with parties such as the MDC, which might need a large stake for commanding the highest number of supporters in the opposition.

Rashweat Mukundu, a political analyst, said there are a lot of opportunists in the opposition, which makes it difficult for the members to speak with one voice.

He said while a grand coalition is an important political vehicle to avoid splitting votes and galvanise the opposition message in challenging Zanu PF, in the Zimbabwean case not much thought has been put into the meaning of coalitions and the value they add to the political contest.

Instead, what the country has are groups of political leaders some who are free riders and also opportunistic party leaders seeking office.

“Coalition parties would normally bring historical legacy or something tangible to the table and so far none seem to meet this mark apart from MDC, (Tendai) Biti and Welshman (Ncube). So the existence of many parties is not a hindrance to coalitions as long as those coalition parties are viable in their own right,” said Mukundu.

“This is not the case with many parties apart from MDC, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the MDC led by Ncube. The rest are untested and almost adventure movements hoping to strike a chance at political office”.

Mukundu said the squabbles in the MDC Alliance are the clearest indication that alliances must be based on what you bring not what you will get.

“And the MDC Alliance needs a thorough review before the elections dropping free riders and responding to the hard questions of what each party brings to the table,” he said.

The major sticking points that have rendered the coalition to face serious hurdles include the issue of the name of the alliance, who would lead and how the seats will be allocated.

For example, the NPP wants a coalition that has an all-inclusive; name, logo, symbol and slogan, which are neutral and not derived from one or some of the coalescing parties.

Those that will be contesting as independent candidates have also created their own group known as People’s Own Voice.

While the confusion is stinking high, the chances of returning to sanity and build a tangible thing are also slowly vanishing.

This is also happening at a time when the leading opposition political party, the MDC is also dogged with a serious leadership crisis that is set to throw its own fair share of confusion.

Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe are fighting tooth and nail over the party’s leadership position.

Khupe has reportedly registered with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as MDC’s presidential candidate, in a move that will create more problems for the party and the opposition as a whole.

While, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said the chances for these parties to work together are still there, adding that a single day is long in politics.

“In politics a day is too long for things to happen. It is still possible that most serious opposition parties can join hands. Since there are different coalitions, there can be coalition of coalitions. What is needed is the support of experienced facilitators to negotiations. Squabbles in MDC are normal and the good thing is the anti-Alliance members were booted out while concerns of those who remained were addressed through opening up all seats for open contest,” Hamauswa said.

However, the situation on the ground shows that for Hamauswa’s averment to be achieved, it will take more than commitment and is nothing short of a miracle.

Obert Gutu, who is associated with the Khupe camp, has made it clear that there is no room for negotiation with Chamisa, whom he accuses of illegally grabbing power.

“Some of us have always belonged to the MDC-T that respects and upholds the basic tenets of the party constitution. We are not going to waiver our well-grounded principles and convictions simply to go with the wind. No! We will, never, ever do that.

“We cannot bend the rules simply because that looks and feels convenient to do. We don’t want to create another dictatorship. It is as simple as that. Anyone who thinks that they can bulldoze us into giving up our firmly held principles on democracy and constitutionalism is dreaming. That is not going to happen,” Gutu said.

This flies in the face of togetherness, which the parties are seeking build and achieve.

Some of the coalition members still believe the parties will find one another along the way in time for the elections, pointing out that those that will not toe the line stands to lose out.

The Ncube-led MDC said the dream is to bring everyone to the “big tent”.

“Efforts are still being made to have everybody on the train. Time is ticking away for those parties outside the cage. Those setting conditions risk being left behind. The MDC Alliance is the only game in town and president Nelson Chamisa is the people’s choice. The Alliance has to continue with its journey to the promised land with or without comrades outside the cage.

“The MDC has been calling for a grand coalition for some time. Party structures gave MDC president Welshman Ncube the mandate to see and listen to political players in Zimbabwe. The MDC is behind Nelson Chamisa and the Alliance at the moment,” the party’s spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi told the Daily News.

The other MDC Alliance member, PDP led by Biti, echoed Chihwayi’s sentiments, saying the door is still open for other political parties to join.

“We have invited all parties to the MDC Alliance and the doors have not closed. What is clear from us is that we have a presidential candidate, and that will remain.

“We have a name for the alliance and that will remain. We have the key elements of the coalition in place we need those that are unseeing to come on board,” PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.

Comments (2)

Why worry about briefcase political parties which only come to light in the eve of every election . On the other hand pple have seen that zanu has become so weak that it is easy to defeat hence everyone now is trying to take chances .ZANU is not very strong as of now actually this is the weakest zanu ever with zanu Mujuru zanu Mutinhiri having emerged Mugabe not in there chief rigger Jono out then sure zanu is half dead and everyone ana muchekadzafa will crop from every where . but its their democratic right to do that and they will never split a single vote from the opposition come voting day . ZANU will be defeated this year .

Diibulaanyika - 3 April 2018

Dibulaa you are saying the truth these media people sometimes course problems by highlighting netumasvosve tose tusingazikanwe ne vanhu its shame

Nicodemus Munyanyiwa Mutsvairo - 8 April 2018

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