Zim needs a credible alternative

IF truth be told without fear or favour, in the aftermath of last year’s controversial general elections and subsequent economic deterioration, Zimbabwe now needs a new credible and viable opposition to offer voters a real alternative to Zanu PF.

Editor’s Memo with Dumisani Muleya

This is not to say the mainstream MDC-T, or any other party for that matter, must fold up, but instead, opposition parties must go back to the drawing board to rejig themselves to come up with a new front, with fresh ideas and strategies, to challenge President Robert Mugabe’s prolonged disastrous rule.

Opposition parties in this country, from Zapu, Zum to the MDC, have worked hard to broaden frontiers of democracy and freedom, while containing Zanu PF’s authoritarian political hegemony.

So, Zimbabweans have since Independence in 1980 been fighting to fulfil aspirations and promises of the liberation struggle shattered by Mugabe and his predatory regime. Joshua Nkomo fought for freedom before and after Independence. So did Edgar Tekere who battled to stop Mugabe’s de jure one-party state project.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai also made a historic contribution to democracy. His colleagues too made serious sacrifices. Some even sacrificed with their lives. Despite being threatened, locked up and assaulted, as well as being ceaselessly vilified by Mugabe, Tsvangirai stood his ground.

When the MDC-T was formed in 1999, Zanu PF held sway across the political landscape. It controlled all but three parliamentary seats. Besides, Mugabe had swept 93% of the vote in the 1996 presidential election in which he ran alone after other candidates withdrew from the race.

However, the advent of the MDC changed the situation. The original MDC almost defeated Zanu PF in the 2000 parliamentary elections, just about nine months after its formation. After that Tsvangirai is widely believed to have beaten Mugabe in the disputed 2002 presidential election, before he officially won in the 2008 poll first round, even though he was subsequently forced out of the run-off through a campaign of intimidation, violence and murder.

However, Tsvangirai and the MDC-T’s crushing defeat in last year’s general elections behoove opposition leaders and their parties to sit down and think afresh.

Zimbabwe now needs a serious and viable alternative to Zanu PF. Tsvangirai and others need to sit down and assemble such a winning team before the 2018 general elections. The new movement must be about issues, not personalities.

Even though some people say Tsvangirai has played his part and must now exit the political scene with honour, it is important to realise he still has a role to play given his experience and social base.

If Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders, as well as civil society and business movers and shakers, can sit down and talk, a viable alternative which can fearlessly fight the 2018 elections could emerge. Zanu PF will remain in power until there is an organised, united and cohesive opposition with a coherent alternative agenda.

While the role of opposition is, of course, to oppose, Zimbabwe now needs a new party which thinks beyond 18th Century British Whig opposition leader George Tierney’s rationale that “the duty of an opposition is to propose nothing; oppose everything, and to turn out the government!”

Beyond opposing, the opposition must propose something. It must have a programme which it is ready to implement if it comes to power. It should not seek to hinder government programmes pointlessly, but rather support them when necessary in the common good, while remaining an enlightened alternative to the ruling party.

Forming a serious new united front is the most credible option for the MDC-T and other opposition parties, otherwise doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity, as Einstein observed.