The Sunday Mail
Local think-tank Research and Advocacy Unit has predicted victory for President Mugabe and Zanu-PF in next year’s harmonised elections, ruling out any real challenge from the opposition.
In its August 2017 report, RAU — which comprises academics and NGO officials — says President Mugabe will continue to befuddle pundits who have dismissed him based on age and Zimbabwe’s economy by once again emerging tops in the coming polls. Titled “Zimbabwe since the elections in 2013, the view from 2017”, the document ribs the ruling party’s challengers with a prediction that 2018 will likely “decimate the opposition once and for all”.
The report reads in part: “The big question, as we have raised here, is why, apart from the Constitutional requirement to do so, would Zanu-PF, in its fractured state, be willing to take a chance on elections? “The only reason that Zanu-PF would take the election route, early or otherwise, would be to decimate the opposition once and for all and claim a legitimate hold on power. Unless something changes drastically in the next 12 months, there is little hope for an opposition win in 2018.
“. . . Given Zimbabwe has a separate Presidential poll, one key problem that the ‘grand coalition’ has yet to solve is who will lead the coalition in challenging Zanu-PF for the Presidency. Despite this, there are few signs that the central problem of who will lead the coalition has been resolved.”
RAU predicts that just as it did in 2013 with President Mugabe at the helm, Zanu-PF would silence pundits with victory come 2018. While regurgitating the West’s mantra about Zimbabwe’s economy being “in the intensive care unit”, it acknowledges a further surge in President Mugabe’s popularity since 2013.
“Zimbabwean politics may well confound the pundits as it has done in the past, and show a decided contempt for the best tenets of political science, Posner and Young, in analysis of the changes taking place, theorised that no African ‘big man’ would attempt to continue in power if his lead in opinion polls was less than 20 percent, was older than 60 years and led a country that was very dependent on economic assistance (Posner & Young. 2007).
“This theory was wholly discredited in 2013 (Reeler. 2012), and probably will be discredited in 2018, even if the factors indicated by Posner and Young are still completely applicable, worse in some ways: the President is older, the economy is in the intensive care unit, but the President’s popularity is arguably better than in 2013, according to the Afrobarometer at least.”
On civil society, the report says: “Organised civil society has been on the downward trend since the announcement of the election results in 2013 both in terms of legitimacy and funding. As was stated in previous research, civil society had overconfidence in the opposition.
“When they lost the election, this had a domino effect, as civil society had to accept that they had to engage with the Government they had invested so much time and money to remove.
“The struggle for survival for civil society worsened in the last year as the realisation that there won’t be as much money poured into this election as in previous years . . .”
Reacting to the report, political analyst Mr Godwin Mureriwa said: “The Zanu-PF support base does not dwindle because of perceived factional divisions within the party. While there may be symptoms of systematic instability, it is mainly at the top and between individuals.
“This has not trickled down to the grassroots who remain united behind the party and its leader. The ongoing interface rallies have shown beyond doubt that Zanu-PF is powerful when it comes to mobilisation. When the party is fully mobilised and confronting a common opponent, it has shown that it is unstoppable.
“While Zanu-PF has been going around the country and mobilising its support base, the opposition is busy trying to put together the so-called ‘grand coalition’; and it is almost two years now since that idea was first introduced and they have nothing to show for all the talk. So, given facts on the ground, the findings that Zanu-PF will romp to an easy victory cannot be disputed by any right-minded observer.”
Earlier this year, another research hub, Afrobarometer, revealed that President Mugabe enjoyed support from two-thirds of Zimbabwe’s adult population.
In May 2017, academic and former MDC-T official Dr Teondepi Shonhe also predicted defeat for the opposition, citing “ideological bankruptcy”.