Chance for opposition to redeem itself

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FORMER Vice-President and ex-Zanu PF second secretary Joice Mujuru’s release on Monday of a policy document to her yet-to-be-formed party has many Zimbabweans agog, guardedly optimistic her entry into opposition politics would prove the missing link to finally ending Zanu PF’s misrule. Others were sceptical.

Candid Comment by Stewart Chabwinja

Not that the citizenry, or her People First movement for that matter, is under any illusions she can go it alone. Soon after the blueprint was unveiled her “party”, boasting a proven support base within Zanu PF, confirmed its preparedness to join hands with “any democratic Zimbabwean” to dislodge Zanu PF.

Also auspicious was that despite ranting on Tuesday that “whoever said that the MDC is interested in joining Mujuru as opposed to her joining us must have been smoking something highly toxic and dangerous to their mental health”, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu ditched the bombast overnight in preference for the accommodating language of engagement.

He was on Wednesday quoted as saying his party was ready to work with the Mujuru camp, as it carried “the much-needed liberation credentials that we need as a country … As a party, we are ready and open for any dialogue with people who share with us the same beliefs and understanding so that we could help Zimbabwe come out of the current catastrophe …”

Given Zanu PF’s successful history of stealing the vote, the 2018 general election will require an opposition with a big-game mentality, so to speak, not big egos — so that it harnesses its collective appeal to maximum effect.

Thus in order to bring its “A game” to what should be a fierce political contest, the opposition has no choice but to forge a united front, for the lesson from recent elections is simple: divided the opposition falls. It is still poignantly fresh in the memory of progressive Zimbabweans that had Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube’s MDC formations fielded a single presidential candidate for the 2008 elections, Mugabe would have been history by now.

But the split-vote lesson was lost on the bickering opposition which still fielded multiple presidential candidates at the 2013 polls, resulting in the same setback for the country’s opposition.

In fact the antipathy between egoistical opposition leaders was a striking feature of the country’s tripartite unity government (2009-2013) in which Tsvangirai and Ncube worked at cross-purposes, at the expense of the reform agenda. Mugabe repeatedly exploited the open hostility between his opponents to full effect, running rings around them while setting the stage for another disputed poll triumph.

Hence the deep-seated Tsvangirai-Ncube antagonism is potentially the major stumbling block to a critical opposition coalition for 2018. They must look at the bigger picture for change.

A formidable task lies ahead, as recently proved by stillborn reunification efforts between Ncube’s party and Biti’s Renewal Team, but the imminent National Convergence Platform offers a good opportunity.

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