RUCTIONS within opposition political parties in Zimbabwe have shaken the confidence of those eager to see change in the manner the country's affairs are governed. The country's main opposition political parties have all been gripped by instability. For example, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) led by Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured), has been the worst hit, with violence and factionalism rattling the party since the beginning of the year.
Welshman Ncube's smaller MDC formation has been grappling with an exodus of some of its top officials to the MDC-T and is also understood to be in financial dire straits. Ncube's party suffered yet another blow after Edwin Ndlovu, its provincial spokesman, resigned from the MDC to "pursue his studies further." A week later, Ndlovu announced his surprise return to the MDC-T fold, alleging his decision to join the "big tent" had been motivated by his desire to take part in a stronger opposition party that would help dislodge President Robert Mugabe from power as opposed to a fragmented opposition marked by differences in ideology and tact.
Smaller opposition parties have not been spared either. The MDC 99 led by Job Sikhala made a return into the MDC-T last month after a poor showing on the country's political landscape. Dumiso Dabengwa's revived ZAPU has also remained a misfit as it seeks to win back its long lost pre-independence glory. The Simba Makoni-led Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party has slipped into the shadows shortly after it emerged in 2008 to challenge President Mugabe.
Should the instability in the opposition's ranks continue, observers say it would all but pave the way for the domination of ZANU-PF at the 2008 polls and also result in voter apathy.
A school of thought holds the view that voters may end up forming their own political party, which would represent their needs, after dissatisfaction with the current opposition party leadership.
Khanyile Mlotshwa, a political commentator based in South Africa, is one of those who believe the "people" could form their own party. "We are used to looking up to 'career politicians' who have failed the nation from both the ruling and opposition party end and we should not close out the possibility of 'the people' coming up with their own political movement," he said.
A much harsher assessment came from Rashweat Mukundu, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, who believes that the instability in the opposition would only alienate party leaders from the voters, come election time.
"Opposition parties are in disarray through their own making yet the ground is fertile for alternative policies, leadership and citizen mobilisation as ZANU-PF dithers," said Mukundu.
"Citizens' belief and confidence in the relevance of politics and voting is now diminished and many will not bother to vote at the next election. Opposition parties must demonstrate a hunger for power and demonstrate leadership that mobilises and motivates citizens to participate in political processes. For now the opposite is true." Share !