Whither the legacy of opposition politics

Richard Runyararo Mahomva
The participation by opposition parties in the just-ended election is quite commendable.

The 2018 harmonised elections afforded all political parties an opportunity to measure their relevance in the country’s body politic.

As such, the election results have clearly given an indication of the relevance of both the ruling party and the opposition.

On that note, I should hasten to indicate that the opposition, particularly the MDC-Alliance, has a lot of lessons to draw from its defeat.

First, the bedrock of Chamisa’s rise to power is affixed to various contestations ranging from accusations of self-imposition as leader of the bereaved opposition after the death of Morgan Tsvangirai.

It is also a fact that his vindictive elbowing of factional opponents nursed his legitimacy at the same time weakening the support base of his party.

This also had a bearing on the preservation of the institutional memory of the opposition.

Guided by these key highlights, the discussion addresses fundamental errors of commission, which frustrated Chamisa’s campaign right up to his desperate manoeuvre of clandestinely coordinating a riot whose consequences has claimed six lives so far.

Rehearsed concerns

First, the call for electoral reforms was justified.

Even Zanu-PF benefited from these reforms. Their implementation helped to re-orient some voters who recognised that Zanu-PF was reforming, especially after the fall of the old order in November last year.

It must be acknowledged that the call for reforms came much earlier, and there was a perception that Zanu-PF was reluctant to implement the same.

And the MDC-Alliance had budgeted that the ruling party would resist electoral reforms.

But to their surprise, the Electoral Act was amended.

In fact, ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission), an independent body, had to bend over backwards in soliciting inter-party consensus.

However, the MDC-Alliance kept on attacking ZEC in order to project a sense of victimhood.

As a result, Chamisa’s party lost contact with the electorate as it was pre-occupied with attempting to dismantle ZEC’s credibility.

Upon realising that ZEC was affixed to constitutional common-sense, MDC intensified its dramatised its attacks on ZEC, citing electoral irregularities.

It must be noted that attempts to discredit ZEC continued throughout the election cycle.

Even when ZEC was announcing election results within the constitutionally prescribed period of five days after voting, there was an effort to hurry the commission through alleging that they were unnecessarily delaying the process in order to manipulate the results.

After the announcement of a result that was not favourable to them, the MDC-Alliance organised a riot.

Sadly, innocent lives were lost.

Upon realising the grievous mistake of ordering his supporters onto the street, Chamisa still unashamedly insists that the MDC-Alliance had nothing to do with the August 1 acts of terror by his unrestrained party’s zealots.

It is hardly surprising.

Even after his militant brigade tried to burn Dr Thokozani Khupe — then the party’s co-vice president — in a hut in Buhera at the burial of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, Chamisa accused Zanu-PF of being responsible.

So Chamisa must take responsibility for the lives that were lost in Harare last week.

Yet he is not even remorseful.

Chamisa has demonstrated that his supporters are pawns that can only be conveniently used to catapult him to power.

To him, those who died (including the innocent lady) did not exist ontologically.

He even has the temerity to hold a press conference, not to sympathise with the victims, but to lay a claim on the Presidency.

If investigations indeed trace last week’s unfortunate events to Harvest House, this will definitely damage the MDC-Alliance.

Holding the mass to ransom

Chamisa needs to go beyond self-interest if he wants to win the hearts of Zimbabweans in 2023.

It is unacceptable for anyone to invalidate national processes if public institutions do not accede to their wishes. From the outset, Chamisa declared that he was not going to accept defeat. To buttress that, the MDC-Alliance youth wing made an oath to make Zimbabwe ungovernable if Chamisa lost the election.

Upon realising that Chamisa had lost the election, they tried to shut down Harare.

This was calculated to give the misleading impression that there is no peace and stability in Zimbabwe.

The MDC-Alliance has certainly managed to dent Zimbabwe’s image in the international community.

This is obviously meant to ensure that Zimbabwe remains isolated, which ensures that the disaffected will continue to vote against Zanu-PF

And this puts into question Chamisa’s leadership credentials.

He knows that if doors for attracting investment continue to be shut, this facilitates an anti-Zanu-PF vote.

The abortion of the Tsvangirai legacy

Chamisa fails to recognise that there is a legacy which precedes his lust for power. This is the legacy of peace, which Tsvangirai demonstrated as the founding leader of MDC.

The crumbling of this legacy in Chamisa’s hands is a threat to Tsvangirai’s legacy.

Chamisa’s use of violence to protect his interests has since invalidated the natural role of opposition as a civil channel for agitating the State to accede to citizen demands.

From just observing how the Chamisa-led MDC has been unleashing violence or showing the propensity thereof, one can argue that the opposition now epitomes the culture violence.

This is likely to make Chamisa an unsellable candidate in the next election.

With Chamisa at the helm of the opposition, they will remain a key instigator of violence and a threat to the country’s peace.

Imagine what would have happened had these rioters organised by the MDC-Alliance successfully stormed the HICC, which was the national election command centre.

The electoral process was going to come to a halt.

The rural vote

There is need to also dispel the myth that Zanu-PF feeds off ignorant rural voters.

It is disingenuous to assume that rural men, women and children are an illiterate lot.

In fact, that represents a colonial psyche which misguides many to believing that being an urbanite equates to intellectual sophistication.

It is this assumption that drove the Tsvangirai-led MDC to recruit the urban working class in the late 90s.

Unsurprisingly, the MDC continues to rely on the urban vote, particularly in Harare and Bulawayo.

This is because their ideas speak to the neo-liberal character of the urbanite.

As a result, social media has become the opposition’s primary source of engaging its supporters.

But there is a lesson to be learnt from this election: social media does not vote.

Even the Zanu-PF-inclined supporters — who are called “Varakashi” — were not as effective as the real “Varakashi”, who are the rural voters.

It must be considered that Zanu-PF policies has mainly been effective in the countryside.

The challenge for Chamisa going forward is to grow into a real leader who takes responsibility and also tempers his vaulting ambition with the national interest.

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  • Inno

    It is only idiots that do things that render them targets of beatings. An idiot will not go to court for redress but to the street to demonstrate.Do not be an idiot.