21 June 2018

Zimbabwe: Opposition Overwhelmed By New Dispensation

The much-talked about 2018 harmonised elections are now just weeks away and events in the opposition camp are a sight to see.

Opposition politics has always been more about removing Mr Robert Mugabe from office rather than anything else.

And with the advent of a new dispensation era in November last year, the opposition was thrown into disarray.

For nearly two decades the opposition has been absorbed with the "Mugabe must go" mantra.

This became its rallying point.

Fast forward to 24 November 2017 when Mugabe resigned from office after pressure, the opposition has remained mired in this belief, yet Mugabe is now basking in the sun at his Blue Roof mansion.

The opposition still yearns for Mugabe to return to power to justify themselves to earn those dollars which are often doled out by western funders.

They still mourn the departure of Mugabe because his resignation also meant the loss of their very existence.

They opposed Mugabe for a living.

The dawn of the new dispensation suddenly disarmed and exposed the opposition's lack of a solid agenda and sound ideology.

Put differently, the opposition is failing to come to terms with what the new dispensation means for Zimbabweans.

The opposition is overwhelmed by the sudden free political environment in which they can hold campaign meetings at any corner of the country, at any time without anyone barring them.

At every rally they insult President Mnangagwa with no consequences.

The opposition has been exposed for only striving to replace Mugabe and not to improve the lives of the people.

The opposition and its leadership cannot even believe that the country could turn over a new leaf in terms of its administration in a matter of months. They were simply not prepared for it.

The much improved political environment has seen MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa running short of ideas on what to do next.

Instead of using this new peaceful and tolerant political environment to sell itself to the electorate, the opposition has been making all sorts of claims and demands on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

It has failed to produce evidence to support its claims.

Realising that President Mnangagwa is committed, unflinching and determined to deliver a credible, free, fair and violence-free election, the opposition is now working with some civil society and non-governmental organisations to pile up claims to justify its imminent electoral loss.

Despite being fully aware that ZEC adopted the biometric voter registration (BVR) system for the first time in preparations of the forthcoming elections, the Elections Resources Centre (ERC) and the Professor Lovemore Madhuku-led National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) took ZEC to court to compel the commission to release a copy of the voters roll.

This was in spite of ZEC Chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba's pleas that her organisation was still putting finishing touches to the document to ensure that it complies with the law.

The law stipulates that ZEC should furnish stakeholders with final copies of the roll, which explains why Justice Chigumba was insisting on rendering the voters roll analysable and tamper-proof.

The rationale behind the litigious behaviour among the opposition is an open secret: to create records to support future petitions as a defeat is certain given the opposition's lack of sound projects and programmes to attract the electorate.

The finest example of the fact that the opposition is running short of what to do with the prevailing political environment is MDC-T secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora's recent statement to the effect that, when printing presidential election ballot papers, ZEC should print surnames first.

This was obviously calculated to improve Chamisa's electoral chances given his lack of meaningful ideas to attract a critical mass of the electorate to secure a win.

Zimbabwe has been holding elections since 1980 and Mwonzora's demands should go down in the annals of the country's electoral history as one of the dumbest.

Overwhelmed by the political environment provided by the new dispensation, the opposition is now majoring in minor issues and outright speculation to make up for its poor preparations and lack of political acumen and clout to win the forthcoming elections.

Some among its ranks are already clamouring that 21 out of the 23 presidential election candidates are zanu-pf "projects."

The reason?

Because they are likely to eat into potential Chamisa votes.

Although the zanu-pf "project" accusations are meant to cast aspersions on other candidates, they actually talk to the MDC Alliance's shortcomings. It is an admission on the alliance's part that zanu-pf is an inimitable and superior contender than Chamisa and his lot.

While the 23-strong field of presidential candidates is causing sleepless nights for Chamisa and others in the opposition, President Mnangagwa received the news of the record-breaking number of candidates with the kind of grace which is only found in some sporting disciplines. His reaction was statesmanlike and uncharacteristic of the bygone political era.

He commented: "I'm delighted to see such a diverse range of candidates and look forward to a robust yet peaceful exchange of views on the campaign trail over the next six weeks."

The late former British Prime minister, Winston Churchill counselled that travellers who stopped to cast stones at barking dogs risk making no progress in accomplishing their goals. Similarly, an opposition which is majoring in minor issues along the electoral way is destined for a definite defeat.

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