THE most pivotal elections in the country to be held in 2018 look very promising for Zimbabweans at first glance. President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party will play defence, while the opposition plays an offensive role.
Yet, the prospect of a united opposition to face Mugabe is all but diminishing. This is despite the fact that the Zanu PF party is faced with a litany of both internal and external challenges — the economy and service delivery — as well as the candidature of nonagenarian President Mugabe.
As is expected, there are on-going disputes about leadership positions and regional representation in the opposition. The different formations do not even share a common enough vision and political agenda in order to unite the groups and their supporters.
We believe the opposition alliance should not bank on the unhappiness in Zanu PF, poor service delivery, corruption or the poor economy, as this will not translate into a huge support base for the opposition coalition.
Indeed, these could prove to be detrimental to Zanu PF in the months of campaigning ahead especially unemployment, economic and social decay and corruption, succession fights and an elective congress, and the party primaries could further divide both the opposition and Zanu PF along factional lines.
There is no doubt that party primaries help to build name recognition, intensity, and a campaign organisation, but in some cases primaries really do hurt.
It is our contention that Zimbabweans should not wait for the intervention of the West to help them overcome Zanu PF in the 2018 polls. Zimbabwe is of little geo-political strategic importance to the West, and citizens should register to vote in preparation for the next elections.
The opposition should be warned that as Zimbabwe draws closer to the 2018 elections, there is little sign of the demands for political and electoral reforms that will be met by the Zanu PF regime. This is notwithstanding the vicious factional battles that currently dominate the Zanu PF politics.
This points to the fact that whatever the issues that presently divide them, as the country gravitates towards the next election, the Zanu PF factions are likely to find common ground, to protect their control of the State, accumulated wealth, and guard themselves against the dangers of accountability for the massive human rights violations they have been responsible for over the past 37 years.
Mugabe is clear that an unreformed electoral process will ensure little possibility of democratic success for the opposition. Zimbabweans should be warned the Zanu PF regime will inflict its long-honed strategy of selective violence and harassment that may well taper off, as the election gets closer.
The fact that Mugabe has already ordered the removal of vendors in major cities and towns across the country shows that Zanu PF wants to destroy perceived opposition strongholds, which have potential to give them a resounding victory.
Whatever will happen the opposition urban strongholds will be tampered with, and this is designed to ensure favourable voting outcomes for Zanu PF.
We have no doubt that the loss of traction of the once powerful labour movement that was central to the support base of the opposition MDC, should push the opposition to unite and start mobilising support before it is too late.
It is sad that in its current form, the opposition remains divided and fractured, with little sign that they are moving towards a more co-ordinated coalition. It is the citizens’ hope that the opposition put its house in order for a bruising fight with Zanu PF for the benefit of the people.