RECENT remarks by People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti and National People’s Party president Joice Mujuru that any one of the leaders from the 15 opposition parties in coalition talks is up for control of the grouping, once again shows the lack of seriousness by the opposition ahead of elections after several failed attempts to dislodge Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe.
Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
Mujuru, at a campaign rally in Chitungwiza last week, called for primary elections to elect a single opposition candidate for the 2018 presidential candidate.
This week she also told the International Sheroes Forum in Ghana that she believes she is the appropriate candidate to lead the project, given her liberation war credentials and 34 years experience as a top government official and that she is the only female politician heading a political party.
Meanwhile, Biti told journalists last week in Bulawayo that there are 15 serious opposition parties from which the leader of the coalition can emerge.
Biti’s claims are an exaggeration. There is not even a third of that figure which can be considered seriously. Most of the opposition parties which have mushroomed are Mickey Mouse groupings hoping to capitalise on coalition talks to position themselves.
Yet this is just one of the problems facing the “endless” coalition talks, at a time Mugabe and Zanu PF are going full throttle preparing for next years’ decisive elections. Zanu PF is in election mode, having already bought 365 brand new cars and buses for the campaigns, while the military has been deployed to all provinces.
Tsvangirai had to intervene on Monday to manage the tussles when he issued a strongly-worded statement, cautioning his peers in the opposition not to jostle for top posts at the expense of formulating policies to guide government in the post-Mugabe era.
The MDC-T leader is absolutely right. They should be debating about election strategies, especially packaging their campaign messaging.
Looking at the political parties, Tsvangirai seems the only suitable candidate. Mujuru is not ideal. Her party is yet to hold a congress to elect substantive leaders. She has not even won a by-election. In addition, her party is structurally loose.
I am not opposed to female leadership, lest I be accused of fighting women, but there is need for pragmatism.
Mujuru’s biggest asset is her name and history, not support base. Hers is untested popularity.
While Tsvangirai may not be the most strategic politician, he certainly commands a huge following, which he must realise may not be enough. Tsvangirai has more sympathisers than supporters. Those sympathisers are fickle.
Misdirected opposition parties are, however, spending energy on wrong things. They should strive to mobilise the electorate by targeting Zanu PF’s rural strongholds.
If they are already squabbling over positions before winning elections, the worst is expected if they emerge victorious.
These fights risk proving Mugabe right that an opposition coalition is a grouping of zeros.