14 September 2017

Zimbabwe: MDC Alliance Gives People Hope

Photo: IRIN
Election day (file photo).
guest column

Zimbabwe is a country that has been beset with unimaginable problems that one would not expect from a modern state endowed with vast resources. These resources are both human and natural and these abound across the length and breadth of the country. Zanu-Pf has presided over the governance of the country since independence from Britain in April 1980.

Zanu-PF which prides itself as the epitome and paragon of nationalism, Pan-Africanism and democracy has apparently presided over the decay of the state of Zimbabwe and its concomitant destruction of its economy. This has in turn spawned unimaginable unemployment, company closures, acute poverty at household level, the collapse of all sectors of the economy and unnecessary innumerable deaths of Zimbabwe from diseases and conditions that are treatable. Zanu-PF has no iota of how it will deal with this situation as the promised 2 million jobs have only come to exists in its own mind.

Zanu PF leader, President Robert Mugabe

Within the backdrop of this unimaginable destruction of the nation and mismanagement of the affairs of Zimbabwe, finally, the country's opposition has seen the light. Those parties that have been in the trenches seeking to uproot the dictatorship finally came full circle and agreed to form a coalition which they have named the MDC Alliance. The formation of the Alliance coming as it does on the eve of the 2018 elections is indeed a boon in the efforts to win that election.

There is no gainsaying the fact that in the politics of Zimbabwe the numbers mean everything. They determine if the economy can turn around, if one will get a job whether they have been to school or not, if one will go to bed on an empty stomach or not. Numbers also inform whether the constitutional order will be preserved or cannibalized in the manner Zanu-PF has done. Any serious politician cannot therefore fail to have their eyes trained on the numbers because it is the numbers that will help engineer the dawn of a new era in Zimbabwe or condemn it to the status of a failed state in the company of Somalia.

The news of the progressive opposition coming together in their numbers under the banner of MDC Alliance is, perhaps, the biggest news that 2017 has ever seen. It gives a sense of optimism to any person who still believes that Zimbabwe can be saved from its sorry state. This is because for those of us who live amongst the feel and see the poverty that stalks the land. This land needs saving, that is without a doubt otherwise the people will continue to wallow in so much pain.

The coming together of the political opposition is without a doubt important for a number of reasons.

First and most importantly, it means that the votes will not be split amongst the opposition candidates at presidential, parliamentary and council level. That on its own will boost the election chances of all those who will stand as candidates in each elective public office. The scenario that happened in Matabeleland South in the 31 July 2013 where the opposition MDCs (led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Prof Welshman Ncube) went neck to neck in terms of numbers and thus allowed

Zanu-PF to snatch victory on a silver platter should easily be avoided in 2018 under an Alliance.

Secondly, there are lots of people who are despondent about politics in Zimbabwe and have given up its ability to deliver change owing to the fragmented opposition. Added to these are those who see opposition politicians and politics as being informed by greed and selfishness, where politicians only care about their own careers (and right to 'eat') to the detriment of the national good. Allied closely to this group are the fence sitters, those who are undecided whether to vote at all or not, in light of the fragmentation within the political ranks. These people will without a doubt begin to believe again in the ability of the electoral process to deliver on a life outside of Zanu-PF.

A guaranteed electoral win will be possible under the Alliance. It does not matter how hoarse one argues against the Alliance, statistics are stubborn and these do not lie. A contestation of the progressive political opposition against each other will be detrimental to any victory against Zanu-PF. It will actually be an own goal and should be discouraged by all sensible people outside of Zanu-PF. In any event, it goes against the grain of defeating Zanu-PF at the polls. It is in the context of defeating Zanu-PF and rising above the self that the Alliance partners/principals should be applauded for taking this brave step, rising above self for the benefit of the whole.

The opposition Alliance build-up has however, not been without incident. There have been those who have openly defied their leadership for one reason or another. One of those has been that some politicians in Matabeleland think that they own the people and that what matters are the politicians' interests or views and not those of the people that should stand to benefit from the Alliance. There is no way that the people can benefit from a fragmented opposition or having several opposition parties contesting elections on their own without aligning with each other. 2013 electoral results put paid that lie. This is because the vote will inevitable be split and Zanu-Pf stands to win as happened in Matabeleland South in such a scenario. When Zanu-PF wins, the people will lose again like they have lost in several elections before.

It is indeed troubling that there is any politician in Zimbabwe and in Matabeleland in particular who want to give Zanu-PF a shot at power again. But, calling spade a spade, the actions of some senior politicians from Bulawayo in fact is all in aid of regime retention by Zanu-PF and should be condemned by right thinking people of Zimbabwe. These are worried about the self at the expense of the nation. One wonders why the political parties in which they belong continue to afford them a home without at list rapping them on the knuckles. A suspension of such elements from the each political parties should give them a chance to reflect.

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