The opposition political parties in Zimbabwe never learn. Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T was born a good 18 years ago.
You would think that at such a ripe age, the political movement would have grasped the basic principles of the electorate’s expectations.
This pioneer of real opposition politics in Zimbabwe is an offspring of a labour movement. Again, one would think that with such a background, the workers’ expectations must be at the opposition party’s fingertips.
It is nay through and through.
Exhausted after a long day at work in a field acquired during the Land Reform Programme; or a mine that has been operating efficiently since the Indigenisation Act came into force; or the manufacturing firm that has been operating at full throttle ever since Government adopted Statutory Instrument 64 0f 2016; what the worker needs is their food on the table, not a sermon on electoral reforms or an imagined ‘grand’ coalition. Years ago, the then MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti once reminded his peers during a SAPES Trust Policy dialogue that ‘the people do not eat slogans’.
Yet, this has been the focus of the opposition political parties in the country. Beyond their dream of removing President Mugabe from power, the opposition does not have an alternative message and value system to sell to the electorate. Those who have been following that discourse for 18 long years are now understandably tired.
The opposition players are largely the same as they were in 2009 and 2013 — Tsvangirai, Biti, Welshman Ncube, with the latest addition of Joice Mujuru only balancing the gender field and nothing more.
To make matters worse, the quartet is very aware that they do not have the stamina to floor Zanu-PF either in their individual capacities or united. Yet talk of a coalition has been dominating the discourse. Imagine the psychological trauma that haunts their handful of supporters. While at it, they make a lot of noise on electoral reforms, with the MDC-T throwing several tantrums and boycotting polls every now and then. In planning for the inevitable defeat, Tsvangirai has already declared that he will not accept the 2018 election results if they are not in his favour. That is the opposition’s strategy, apparently, which is a misplaced waste of time and resources.
But as history would have it, that strategy does not get them any votes because their language is not translating into anything tangible on the ground. While sponsored talks about democracy and electoral reforms may bring food on Tsvangirai and Mujuru’s table, this is not enough to trickle down to the ordinary person on the street who is also seeking bread and butter.
And therefore we have witnessed the MDCs suffering crushing defeats during past elections. There is no doubt that another humiliating defeat is looming. This time around, the 2018 defeat will leave the entire opposition movement in the morgue.
The symptoms are clear for everyone to see, remember the monumental failure of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) feedback rally not so long ago after the opposition had threatened that thousands would attend?
Meanwhile, the ruling party’s strategy remains people-oriented. Since 2013, they have been in election campaign mode and are not leaving anything to chance. The focus has always been sustainable economic development, emancipation of the masses, food sufficiency and job creation, among other critical factors.
The Command Agriculture scheme rescued thousands of farmers from the jaws of poverty. Self-funding has always been a challenge for most farmers and this programme unlocked their potential. This year, the nation expects a bumper harvest of 2, 7 million tonnes of cereals, thereby easing pressure on the need to import grain. Farmers have already started delivering maize produced under Command Agriculture to the Grain Marketing Board.
As the opposition parties continue to seek ways of poking holes into the flawless programme, the Zanu-PF Government has already moved to command winter wheat production.
There is more.
Infrastructural development projects envisaged under the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, are also bearing fruits. Only a few days ago, the President commissioned the $250 million Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam in Chivi and the $1 billion dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway.
Tokwe-Mukosi becomes the largest inland dam in the country and its environs are expected to be turned into greenbelts through irrigation projects that will sustain the livelihoods of Chivi residents. Labour experts estimate that 300 000 jobs will be created from the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway.
In a year or so, a decision will have to be made at the ballot — either an opposition movement that is clueless on what it is offering the electorate or a tried and tested ruling party that is all for democracy as well as bread and butter issues.
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