The Sunday Mail
Soon — and very soon — the election date will be proclaimed, heralding the beginning of an inexorable march towards this year’s consequential polls.
More likely than not, the elections could turn out to be a page-turning moment for both our generation and this epoch.
New York-headquartered global ratings firm Fitch Solutions believes the ruling party, ZANU PF, already has it in the bag, and would probably “remain the dominant political force in Zimbabwe over the coming years”.
“We still expect that ZANU PF will win a comfortable majority in the parliamentary elections in July, with the ruling administration benefitting from a host of incumbency advantages,” it said in its latest report titled “Zimbabwe Country Risk Report”.
You would have to be hopelessly naïve to pooh-pooh these observations, as Fitch is part of America’s institutional structure that mines valuable intelligence for Washington, helping shape the decision-making of some of its bureaucrats.
Bishop Lazi has told you before that it will take nothing short of a miracle for the opposition to wrest power from ZANU PF, and this is not a prophecy but a conclusion derived from simple divination of available data and statistics.
In this year’s polls, a little more than six million voters, compared to about 5,7 million in 2018, would decide our fate, representing a bulge of more than half a million (500 000) in the voter population.
It has to be borne in mind that in the last elections, the voter turnout stood at 85 percent.
An extrapolation from the available statistics, therefore, makes any marked shift in voting patterns unlikely.
In 2018, ZANU PF almost had a clean sweep in six provinces — Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland South — on its way to claiming 144 seats out of the 210 constituencies, giving it a two-thirds majority needed to govern with ease.
Opposition parties, however, had to share the remaining 66 constituencies.
So dominant was the ruling party that it claimed 57 of the 62 constituencies in Mashonaland provinces, 25 of 26 in Masvingo, 12 of 13 in Mat South and 22 of the 27 seats on offer in the Midlands province.
Little has changed since the 2018 elections insofar as the political turf is concerned, as the recent delimitation process only added an extra constituency in Harare and, conversely, reduced the number of National Assembly seats in Matabeleland South from 13 to 12.
The Bishop knows, as does the opposition itself, that targeting a parliamentary majority in the upcoming polls is nothing more than a moon-shot.
It will never happen!
But the political dynamics have since changed in imperceptible but profound ways in the past five years.
Where the opposition has continued to split asunder, resulting in the formation of CCC — expected to emerge as the main political party after the elections — ZANU PF has continued to consolidate and morph into an even more formidable gladiator as it was before.
ED, who has been Solomonically mindful of the unavoidable need to unite the revolutionary party, has not only managed to exorcise the spectre of factionalism and allowed formerly disaffected members to heal and be integrated, but he has managed to also woo disillusioned members from the opposition.
Former Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Cde Miriam Chikukwa, who had previously fallen out of favour with former comrades, is now a Central Committee member, while Wilson Khumbula, the former president of ZANU Ndonga, has now also joined ZANU PF’s highest decision-making body between congresses.
Perceived members of both the Gamatox and G40 faction have seemingly coalesced around the party.
Similarly, hordes of opposition members such as former Zengeza West MP Simon Chidhakwa, Mutare Ward Two councillor Cde Pamela Mutare, former Chipinge Town Council chairperson Chadamoyo Machingura, Lillian Timveos, Blessing Chebundo, Tongai Matutu and many others have also crossed the floor from the opposition to the ruling party.
On the other hand, the opposition — CCC in particular — is, in addition to haemorrhaging supporters, being further divided by discord, rancour and deep-seated mistrust.
And this is ominous ahead of the elections. The foolish and puerile decision by Nelson Chamisa to invent a new inscrutable formula to pick representatives for the harmonised elections through what they call the “candidate selection” process is proving to be as ill-informed as it is both divisive and disastrous.
But why would a party that claims to be much more democratic than ZANU PF — which ironically has always conducted elections to choose its own representatives — ditch a time-proved efficacious method of expressing the people’s will for such an opaque process?
Well, it affords Chamisa, who has already manipulated the same flawed process to anoint himself leader through self-acclamation, to manipulate the outcome through cherry-picking his candidates in the express hope of moulding CCC in his own image.
By founding a new party that is foundationally decoupled from Tsvangirai’s MDC, and its successor splinter variations and mutations, he is effectively establishing a firm grip on the political formation, while simultaneously weakening potential threats to his leadership from individuals such as Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti and Job Sikhala, who were previously his seniors in MDC.
For example, we hear that Chamisa, as part of his elaborate plan, was planning to remove Biti from Harare East and “promote” him to the Senate. Kikikiki.
Bishop Lazarus has often been asked why he obsesses about the opposition CCC when it is unlikely to assume the reins in Zimbabwe.
Well, the Supreme Court — in its March 31, 2020 ruling in an appeal against a High Court judgment that nullified Tsvangirai’s July 15, 2016 appointment of Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri as deputy presidents of the MDC, as well as the purported February 15, 2018 election of Chamisa as acting president of the MDC — dealt with this issue.
“It is common cause that the party (MDC) is the main opposition political entity in this country, having secured 88 out of 270 seats in the National Assembly and 25 out of 60 seats in the Senate, at the last general election held in July 2018. It is not inconceivable, given the vagaries and vicissitudes of political fortune, that it might someday be electorally elevated to become the ruling party in Zimbabwe,” it reasoned.
Adding: “As I have noted earlier, Article 3 of the party constitution enshrines its status as ‘a social democratic party whose core values shall be solidarity, justice, equality, liberty, freedom, transparency, humble and obedient leadership and accountability’.
These core values of the party, if they are not to be reduced to merely hollow rhetoric, necessarily implicate the principles of good governance and adherence to the leadership requirements embodied in the constitution. It is further necessary to ensure that the leadership of the party is constitutionally and lawfully ensconced.”
So, naturally, the probity, or lack thereof, of the opposition party is everyone’s business.If you want to see how the opposition has impacted our lives, look at the abominable damage that it has wrought on the urban communities that it controls, which now literally reek of uncollected garbage and flourishing sewer rivulets.
Their administration of Local Government over the past two decades has been catastrophic.
But more worrying for the Bishop, how can such a political animal, with neither constitution, offices, accountability nor transparency, claim to be the putative future ruling party that will be more democratic and people-centred than ZANU PF?
Governing by press conferences, social media
The red flag that has been raised on this curious political creature that seeks to take over the levers of State power are too numerous to ignore and not interrogate.
In February last year, after Nelson Chamisa had purportedly launched CCC on January 24, lawyer and lecturer David Hofisi raised germane issues that question the opposition party’s democratic credentials.
“On 24 January 2022, Nelson Chamisa launched a new political party, the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) . . . The main ideology of CCC was presented as re-centering the citizen in policy and decision-making. This announcement, laden with claims of a people-centred revival within the main opposition party, was paradoxical in several ways, raising fundamental questions over the nature and purpose of political parties,” he observed.
“The current scenario is somewhat bizarre. The institutional pillars which give a voice to the people (congress and the constitution) have been side-lined in the process of claiming a re-centering of the citizen.
Not only has an entire party been dissolved with neither congressional approval nor constitutional reference — but a new party has been formed with no popular acclamation through congressional process.”
He was not yet done.
“However, some of us believe political parties are the great laboratories of our democracy, with party behaviour foreshadowing governmental practice and national culture. Constitutional misfeasance is the gateway to democratic backsliding and institutional capture,” he added.
“A press conference in which political leaders take centre stage and announce that citizens will be at the centre seems both ironic and counter-intuitive.
This is made worse by the impression that the new party is modelled singularly around the person of Nelson Chamisa and his social media hashtags.” Kikikiki.
This was brutally honest.
How can a formation claim to be democratic if it shuns elections in favour of an arbitrary and opaque process?
How can it even claim to be a people’s party if it has not been conceived through popular acclamation?
Without institutional structures that have been chosen and established by the people, whose decisions are driving the political formation?
What are its ethos and values that are supposed to bind its members?
And, most critically for the voter, how can such a thoroughly inscrutable and undemocratic formation drive a democratic and people-centred administration and agenda in the unlikely case it assumes State power?
Political mandarins in the West, who have reconciled themselves to a ZANU PF victory, are already preparing for rapprochement in the post-election period after pragmatically realising they will likely lose out by sitting on the fence, or, worse, being adversarial, especially in the wake of the ongoing shifting geopolitical dynamics. This will usher in a new era for both our politics and economics, and render opposition politics irrelevant.
The Bishop would urge young Chamisa to read Luke 14: 31- 32: “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with 10 000 men to oppose the one coming against him with 20 000? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”