Zimbabwe: Opposition Blindsided By Mnangagwa Moves

Photo: The Herald
Vice Presidents of Zimbabwe retired general Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi
30 December 2017

ZIMBABWE's opposition parties appear to be at sea and unsure of what to do next as their rallying points are overtaken by events with each passing day after President Robert Mugabe's ouster.

'Mugabe must go' had been the rallying call for the opposition over the past two decades, but that supposedly impossible feat was achieved last month when Mugabe was dramatically toppled by a military revolt.

He had led Zimbabwe with an iron grip on power for 37 years since independence in 1980.

Even so, opposition MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu declared this week that the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe is "far from over".

"The MDC has always advocated for the building of strong institutions; political leaders come and go but Zimbabwe will remain. Hence our focus is not on individuals but systems," said Gutu.

Led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's, the MDC-T and other opposition parties have, over the past two decades, built their messages and demands for a new government around the fact that Mugabe had overstayed his welcome and should be removed from power.

The veteran leader, now 93-years-old, was determined to stand as Zanu PF's presidential candidate in elections expected next year.

However, a dramatic turn of events which followed his ill-advised decision to fire then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in early November forced the military to intervene. Mugabe consequently resigned on November 21.

Before Mugabe tendered his resignation, Tsvangirai's MPs had joined forces with Zanu PF legislators to push for Mugabe's impeachment, an idea Mabvuku-Tafara MDC-T MP James Maridadi had tried to push unsuccessfully for some time.

However, when Zanu PF triggered their own impeachment version to depose the then Zanu PF leader, the opposition jumped onto the band-wagon and Mugabe was forced out.

With that shock development, Tsvangirai's first rallying point was gone just like that.

Meanwhile, the opposition has also consistently demanded a reform of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), accusing former chairperson Rita Makarau of bias.

And within weeks of Mugabe's removal and President Emmerson Mnangagwa's rise to power, Makarau was kicked out, the opposition celebrating the development as a chance to re-constitute ZEC or the appointment of a "more level headed person". Again, another rallying point gone down the drain.

Gutu however, argued Zimbabwe is still 'experiencing a fascist set-up".

"State owned media only reports on the ruling party and during the few occasions they report on the opposition the coverage is mostly negative or downright derogatory," he said.

"It's a long way to freedom. Corruption has not been holistically dealt with because only members of a particular Zanu PF faction are being targeted."

At the height of the Zanu PF succession struggles, the military led by former Commander Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga now and then made political comments attracting scorn from the opposition who demanded that he "removes our uniform and join full-time politics".

But in the aftermath of Operation Restore Legacy which forced Mugabe to resign, Chiwenga retired from the army and has now been appointed Vice President.

Regardless, the opposition is apparently now crying foul accusing Mnangagwa of stuffing his government with military personnel or better still claiming government is now being run by a military council.

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