'Opposition lacks capacity to win elections'

HARARE - Zimbabwean opposition parties lack organisational capacity to seriously challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party in the looming July 30 elections, analysts said.

With reports that the country’s biggest opposition party — the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance — and its partners have since given arch-rivals Zanu PF a precious head-start after failing to field candidates in 46 wards and one parliamentary constituency, political commentators told the Daily News on Sunday that the election’s outcome is now almost predetermined.

The MDC, which has spent an agonising 19 years trying to dislodge Zanu PF, has roped in opposition allies under the MDC Alliance banner in an attempt to gain a numerical edge to out-poll the ruling party.

But a series of gaffes in the past few months have exposed the main opposition’s strategic flaws, particularly the failure to field candidates in Insiza North parliamentary constituency and in council wards.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said “this is a disaster for the opposition” because in 2013 “the opposition lost because of similar lack of organisational capacity”.

“Already, Zanu PF is leading with one seat in Parliament and 46 on local council elections, so it’s quite tough for the opposition to outdo a sophisticated Zanu PF rigging machinery, now using technology and BVR, just by huge numbers at rallies and hyperbole,” he said, adding that “they need to be better organised”.

“Once you don’t field candidates in all wards and constituencies, it’s hard to imagine you being able to be better organised on polling and counting days to be able to field party elections agents in all wards.

“So, if they can’t have agents in all the wards, what stops Zanu PF from voting for ghosts and create non-existent votes?” Saungweme questioned.

“So, the message is clear, crowds yes, and a good manifesto yes, but without good organisation you won’t win, it’s not rocket science,” he said.

Saungweme questioned the existence of an alliance in the MDC, which has formed a coalition with six other parties to fight Zanu PF as a unit.

There was chaos at the nomination court when it sat last week as the MDC Alliance discovered at the last minute that its losing candidates in the primary elections were also registering as independent candidates, while there were double candidates in some constituencies.

The chaos was emanating from disagreements among alliance partners on candidates amid allegations that the MDC was grabbing seats that had been allocated to its partners during the coalition negotiations.

Another respected analyst, Piers Pigou, however said it was too early to judge how it will pan out come July 30, arguing the fact that smaller parties are unable to contest in most constituencies means attention is on Zanu PF and MDC Alliance.

“Zanu PF has greater resource and mobilisation capacity; the extent to which it leverages advantage from incumbency is moot, but clear prejudice from State media and chiefs like (Chief Fortune) Charumbira raise serious questions about prejudice,” he said.

Charumbira sparked controversy after he openly said traditional leaders will back Mnangagwa — sentiments which led to a court case against him resulting in the judiciary asking him to retract his statements.

Pigou also said recent survey results “which give some indication of central levels of support does not help us determine how constituency votes will unfold”.

“Zimbabwe’s first past the post system is potentially dangerously polarising in a context where the victorious party must forge nationally acceptable and inclusive governance as a foundation for its reform, re-engagement and recovery programme,” he said.

A University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the death of opposition heavyweight Morgan Tsvangirai in February robbed the country of the strongest challenger to Zanu PF, suggesting Chamisa was struggling to pick up the pieces amid furious machinations among his rival successors.

“With Zanu PF also bitterly divided, technically unprepared for an election run with new biometric technology, and unable to make common cause with those expelled from  the party, there are valid opposition fears that the former liberation party will cheat its way to victory,” he said, adding, however, that it was not a foregone conclusion.

“It may also be that Zanu PF for once actually trusts its own party organisation and manages to announce a set of clear policies and leave the feeble, disorganised MDC to emulate them and that might just be enough to win the election fair and square”.

Comments (1)

MDC yagara isina kurongeka makore ese saka inotorakashwa zvisingaite naED

Bheveni sibanda - 2 July 2018

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