Controversial recalls plunge zimbabwe’s main opposition into chaos
The political instability in Zimbabwe appeared to deepen further this week as the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), the country’s largest opposition party, finds itself in the throes of a spiralling internal power struggle.
In a move certain to raise tensions, Sengezo Tshabangu, who styles himself as the CCC’s Secretary General, ordered the recall of Harare Mayor Ian Makone, his deputy Kudzai Kadzombe and seven other municipal councilors.
Tshabangu, notified local authorities that the targeted representatives “have ceased to be members” of the CCC. Among those targeted for dismissal were several councillors who helped deliver crucial victories for the party in the capital during August’s hard-fought national elections.
In a letter sent to Local Government Minister Winston Chitando, dated 7 November 2023, Tshabangu wrote: “Kindly be advised that the following councillors were under Citizens Coalition for Change political party and have ceased to be members of the Citizens Coalition for Change,” he wrote.
Tshabangu went on to list Makone (Ward 18) Kadzombe (Ward 41), Denford Ngadziore (Ward 16), Lovejoy Chitegu (Ward 36) and Samuel Gwenzi (Ward 5) among councillors targeted for the axe.
Added to the list were PR Councillors Chido Hamauswa, Tariboyi Sabina, Florence Cheza and Fadzai Matimba.
Sources within the CCC who spoke on condition of anonymity expressed concern that Tshabangu seems intent on destroying the local governance infrastructure laboriously built up over the past year.
Interestingly, Tshabangu had issued similar recalls of over a dozen CCC parliamentarians and councillors in recent months, claiming they too were no longer party members. While the legal basis of such unilateral removals remains dubious, the moves have succeeded in creating chaos. Insiders believe Tshabangu aims to settle internal scores and consolidate his power over grassroots structures, with little care for the internal democracy or stability of Zimbabwe’s primary opposition force.
Some context helps explain the machinations. In the run up to August’s election, party leader Nelson Chamisa opted for an unorthodox candidate selection process, pushing aside some established power-brokers in places where he fielded fresh faces. Tshabangu, observers say, likely feels sidelined after having ambitions of his own. The recalls thus appear a veiled attempt to undermine Chamisa, who consolidated his position as opposition commander-in-chief through the polls.
However, spiralling instability within CCC plays directly into the hands of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF’s discourse of an allegedly “faction-ridden” opposition unworthy of governance.
As backroom maneuvering threatens to tear the CCC apart, concerned citizens can only hope cooler heads prevail. Zimbabwe desperately needs a viable alternative to ZANU-PF’s four-decade stranglehold. But events this week show the opposition remains hobbled by internal divisions that prevent effective challenge to the status quo. Only by putting country over party can CCC optimists realise their democratic dreams.
Increased transparency and inclusive governance within CCC ranks might restore stability and ensure the recalls story does not have further damaging chapters.