Lessons from July 30, August 1

HARARE - The long-awaited July 30 has come and gone.

Results are out. If campaign utterances are anything to go by, some will simply refuse to "feel the rhythm."

It is difficult to accept, having already practiced the guard of honour salute and packed bags en route to Plot 1. Some were already in Cabinet occupying important portfolios. The meat already been shared before the catch.

But life must go on despite this temporary setback. It is not end of the road. There are winners and losers in such contests but more importantly it is about lessons learnt for both winners and losers.

But again, to win it or lose it, one must be in it.

Zanu PF is celebrating and walking with a spring after bagging a two-thirds parliamentary majority together with the presidency in an environment of relative peace, non-violence and under the watchful eye of international observers, a first since 2002 and finally drawing the curtains on Mugabe’s era.

For Zanu PF it is the sweetest of wins despite that elected parliamentary seats have reduced from 159 in 2013 to 145 in 2018. For the opposition it is a bitter pill to swallow despite stealing a few seats with a marginal gain in elected seats from 49 in 2013 to 65 in 2018. No doubt more was expected this time around.

The presidential poll gave Zanu PF’s Emerson Mnangagwa 50,8 percent against his arch-rival Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance’s 44,3 percent.

Conversations around what happened and why it happened and how it happened will surely continue into the future keeping social media mill very busy. However, it will all end as people go on with their lives and realise the dream is over and it is time to face daily realities. But there are lessons to be learnt by both parties for the 2023 vote -

The biggest lesson to Zanu PF is that elections can be won even in a non-violent election environment, with no need to “break bones” to get votes, the clock never go back. As for the opposition,  rally attendance in rural areas does not translate into votes.

To some, attending a rally presents an opportunity to land a free T-shirt, cap, scarf and other freebies and goodies that come once every 5 years, sometimes in exchange for a vote but also none.

Both Zanu PF and MDC Alliance now know this as shown in both the urban and rural voter. Their priorities differ. Landing a vote is much more complicated and surely not a head count at rallies.  Rallies are not votes.

Zimbabweans must congratulate themselves for a peaceful July 30 unfortunately marred by events of August 1st.

The numbers of rural and urban voters are pregnant with meaning and deserve an analysis. What is obvious is it determines the winner. And Zanu PF has known this for decades.

The opposition must understand this statistic and strategise around it in future elections if Zanu PF is to be dislodged.

But this comes with serious other capacities presently beyond their reach. With rural folk mostly poor and respectful of guidance by their traditional leadership but also generally view Zanu PF as a pro-poor party complicates the whole equation.

Only the Diaspora vote has the capacity to dilute the rural vote but even with this it is far-fetched now that Zanu PF has 2/3. It will not be easy.

But who said the task was insurmountable.

The opposition is in a hurry and has as a result spread itself too wide weakening its overall position in the process.

There are individuals within opposition ranks who want to be in government yesterday. For these, time has run out — compromising strategy in the process. There should be more focus on traditional strongholds comprising Harare and Bulawayo provinces and other towns and cities, Matabeleland South, Matabeland North and Manicaland.

To wrestle Mash Central, East and West, Masvingo and Midlands was too ambitious at this stage despite being the biggest challenger.

This election should have been more about building a strong foundation and recovering from the 2013 disaster and stopping Zanu PF from getting a 2/3 majority in Parliament so that electoral reforms could then be pushed. That should have been the main strategy especially following the death of Morgan Tsvangirai.

But it appears it was about power and ministerial positions. But there are vultures and hawks within opposition ranks. Those whose meal has delayed and can’t wait a minute longer!

Some specifically returned to gain entry through the backdoor because their political stock had depreciated since leaving the MDC. They indeed have caused more confusion in an already confused situation and make the most noise to get attention. Posturing as democrats but the real truth is it is all about the money and power.

While they feed behind closed doors avoiding to be seen they forget their overweight reports them.

There are more questions than answers of the added value old friends brought. Even former PF offloads, Mugabe’s dodgy reincarnation, disgruntled former Zanu PFs who all of a sudden employed themselves as political map readers and consultants made the whole direction and destination of the MDC Alliance confusing to many.

Yes it looked like a bullet train on a journey with no specific destination.

It is known that the opposition carries enough baggage of violent supporters.

The party risks becoming a bambazonke violent bullet train if corrective action is not taken. For a party founded on the tenants of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression is mind boggling. 

To remain relevant the opposition must regroup and re-brand.

Find its own plan and revisit its founding values and not allow being high jacked and polluted by political opportunists seeking relevance only because the sun has set the other side.

This confuses genuine members and leaders, strategies to be pursued resulting in a ‘‘wind chase’’ as already observed in this election. The MDC Alliance cannot afford to be perceived as the violent party when Zanu PF is re-branding.

Solid structures are a prerequisite to win the rural vote. Without it is impossible to form government.

Zanu PF remains a rural party having lost in all the major cities and winning only one seat in Harare and another in Bulawayo.

This doesn’t surprise those who understand and read Zimbabwe’s political landscape. Some bark at shadows. The opposition must learn that the game changer is in rural areas and had previously warned about this calamity.

Without some serious introspection around leadership issues we could witness further catastrophes in future. I am disappointed for two reasons, firstly Zanu PF has been handed a 2/3 majority in Parliament and secondly the same old mistakes repeat.

UNITE, UNITE, and UNITE! FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS! This election became a Chamisa — Biti — Ncube show less about the MDC Alliance. In most of the public addresses it was more of ‘‘I’’ than ‘‘We’’. Surely the Alliance should be bigger than the individual. This could have weakened MDC Alliance MPs in rural areas.

This could have led to some rural folk choosing Nelson Chamisa for president and a Zanu PF MP. Whether one calls it bhora musango it then did not achieve the purpose because Zanu PF has walked away with both trophies.

I have previously warned about the disasters of a “one man band” in politics. Firstly it puts the light on one individual at the expense of the team and secondly it is how a dictatorship is birthed.

Zanu PF has learnt this.

A strategy to attract the rural vote is crucial to avoid this disaster in future but at the same time the opposition should ensure Zanu PF does not steal the urban vote.

While Zanu PF failed to win in urban constituencies it appears the party made statistical progress as proven by both the parliamentary and presidential vote.

The opposition too has made significant steps in rural Zanu PF strongholds though not enough to change its fortunes.

The opposition appears to be losing its previous hold on Manicaland having lost 19 of the 26 constituencies on the menu.

With 2018 over it is time to pick the pieces and move on. It was indeed a brave fight no doubt.

Serious tactical and strategic blunders were made leading to this outcome.

It is expected. Zimbabweans must move on. What is, however, disappointing is the horror of August 1, at a time election results were still being announced.

It is a blemish that a nation of our calibre should never allow to repeat. It’s a reminder of serious political intolerance and greed on some of our politicians.

The opposition cannot afford the trappings of muffling divergent views within its ranks. There must be tolerance.

All Zimbabweans are hungry for change. Zimbabwe must start working again. No one should have the belief that only they hold keys to that change.

No one should hold a misguided notion that change is unidirectional and dimensional. It is multidirectional and dimensional.

The fact that one disagrees or sees things differently does not suggest being Zanu PF or if it is in Zanu PF being MDC. There is a tendency to agree with those who hold our own views than those who do not. This blurs our vision. This culture must change as it is the root of violence.

Going through some comments on social media it is clear people are very unhappy with the way the fiasco in town was handled.

We all condemn the heavy handed response in uncertain terms but our politicians must lead by example.

We welcome the calling of an independent investigation into what led to the needless and cruel loss of life.

Political leaders must exercise restraint and leadership to avoid this recurrence in future. There is a hurry to get into government but before this is possible real serious work lies ahead.

Similar demonstrations and violence erupted in Kenya and Zambia after announcement of results. Zimbabwe has just presented a first, that of violence even before the results were announced and without police clearance as required by law.

The fact that the opposition has dismissed the unorganised demonstrations and violence it then leaves the situation of August 1st under the direction of vigilantes after distabilising our usual peace.

Having invested so much in opposition politics over the past twenty years the MDC cannot afford to end up this way and risk the danger of becoming irrelevant if it fails to redefine its purpose.

The memories of Kwekwe are finally erased and the croc has the last laugh.

ED has an obligation to reach out to all.

The quality of his Cabinet will be the first indicator of how serious he is with the promise of change and economic development.

No ministry is unimportant. We want to see a complete overhaul and break with the past.  The failure to deal with the cash issue is of major concern but there are many other ministers who never met the requirements of trust and confidence.

The issue of corruption remains central as it is the biggest threat to economic progress.

Most of the individuals within Zanu PF are perceived as “unclean” and it would be a slap in the face to see these individuals in Cabinet.

The president must pick some good quality people from elsewhere, even those he competed with in the presidential vote.

They are there to serve their country.

Comments (1)

Well said. ..

Simba - 7 August 2018

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