Fragmented opposition spoiled the party

HARARE - Failure by opposition parties to agree on a grand coalition cost MDC Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa crucial votes that could have seen him deny President Emmerson Mnangagwa an outright victory, hence force a presidential run-off in last week’s elections.

Zimbabweans voted on Monday last week in harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government elections where Zanu PF and Mnangagwa emerged runway winners, albeit in controversial circumstances.

According to the results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba, Mnangagwa polled 2 460 463 which represents 50,8 percent of the total votes and enough to be declared winner against Chamisa who managed  2 147 437 — representing 44, 3 percent.

While Chamisa and his opposition camp were quick to blame Zec for his loss and that of the party accusing the electoral body of manipulating results in Zanu PF and Mnangagwa’s favour, a closer look at what the other 21 candidates in the presidential race shows that the opposition vote was split.

The total percentage of the other candidates, who include former vice president Joice Mujuru, former MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe, former Industry minister Nkosana Moyo, among others which totals 3, 8 percent of the votes would have given Chamisa 48,1 percent — enough to cause a run-off.

The Constitution of the country provides that for one to be declared outright winner of the presidential vote he or she must have acquired 50 percent plus one vote.

Political analysts canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday have blamed the opposition’s failure on greed.

They argued that parties that failed to heed calls by their supporters to unite ahead of polls were authors of their own downfall.

This comes as Zanu PF also thumped the fragmented opposition in the National Assembly where only the main opposition MDC Alliance and National Patriotic Front (NPF) managed to secure parliamentary seats.

Independent MP for Norton, Temba Mliswa, retained his seat after he hammered his main rivals who included President Mnangagwa’s advisor, Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Zanu PF amassed a huge majority of 145 in the 210-seat Parliament to the MDC Alliance’s 63.

Analysts, said as a result of the heavy shellacking that the opposition had received in the general election, it was unlikely that MDC Alliance presidential candidate — Chamisa who had already declared himself a winner before results had been officially announced — would prevail against his main rival, Mnangagwa.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the opposition had made a mistake of going into the election fragmented as underlined by Mujuru’s party and ex-MDC deputy leader Khupe who fielded candidates in areas that the opposition was expected to win.

“The Khupe factor cannot be underrated, it did not only affect the MDC Alliance numbers in Matabeleland it also tilted everything in Zanu PF’s favour in other constituencies and may have also accounted for some people not to turn out at polls as they were sure Khupe would lose but did not want to vote for an MDC Alliance that lacked internal democracy.

“The other parties, if you look at other constituencies, actually took away votes which if you add them up with MDC Alliance’s, the opposition would have won. The Khupe factor and the other parties landed Zanu PF victory. It’s a big lesson for 2023,” said Saungweme.

Former civic society leader McDonald Lewanika blamed lack of unity especially in the MDC which led to the catastrophic fallout between Khupe and Chamisa.

“It was always going to happen that Khupe would spoil the party, doing harm to Chamisa but not enough to win herself. This is what we have seen in Chegutu and some parts of Matabeleland. It has lost the opposition some seats.

“At the end of the day our leaders in this case Chamisa and Khupe must own this situation and reflect on the extent to which their personal ambitions may have impeded the attainment of the aspirations of a lot of Zimbabweans and given Zanu PF a new lease of life .

“This is not a Chamisa ( alone) is to blame situation, we need collective responsibility and reflection and hope that everyone learns not only about the dangers of line battles but the real costs of unbridled personal ambition which doesn’t carry everyone with,” Lewanika said.

Former MDC MP for Bulawayo South, Eddie Cross also told the Daily News on Sunday sister paper, the Daily News that the MDC Alliance’s failure to deal with disgruntled members who were not happy with the outcome of the party’s primary elections was a contributory factor to Zanu PF’s only win in Bulawayo.

Incidentally, Zanu PF won the Bulawayo seat after the MDC Alliance fielded two candidates — Virimai Francis Mangwendeza and Kunashe Muchemwa — who benefited Raji Modi by splitting the votes.

Mangwendeza polled 2 214 against Muchemwa’s 1 280 both (MDC Alliance) while Modi got 2788.

“I warned MDC leadership some time ago, both verbally and in writing, that if they imposed a youth candidate and allowed multiple candidates, that we would lose the seat.

“The youth candidate imposed on our structures has court charges for political violence against him and this coupled to the split vote resulted in MDC losing a seat I held in 2013 with a large majority.

“However, I wish Modi all the best and full cooperation in seeking to develop Bulawayo South,” Cross said.

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