By Sij Ncube
Harare, February 12, 2016 – As President Robert Mugabe battles to put out succession fires in his faction-riddled Zanu PF, Zimbabwe’s opposition continues fiddling without any clues of capitalising on the deadly and divisive internal strife in the ruling party ahead of crunch 2018 polls.
Analysts note there are no signs on the ground the opposition, particularly the main opposition MDC-T, is alive to the “manna from heaven” opportunities presented by turmoil in the rival party.
Zanu PF has seen faction leaders taking to social and mainstream media to denigrate each other as rival camps jostle to succeed.
Evidence of internecine fights in Mugabe’s party were laid bare Wednesday before the Zanu PF politburo in which the veteran politician chided his members for engaging in cat fights as they try to succeed him.
But critics say the opposition, which dreams of forming the next government, is comatose at a time Mugabe and his Zanu PF are at their weakest, by remaining sharply divided.
Talk of forming a grand opposition coalition has remained on paper without anything tangible coming out of the discussions.
So has been talk by Morgan Tsvangirai to roll-out crippling street protests against Mugabe’s misrule.
Tsvangirai and his MDC-T have long demanded wide-sweeping electoral and media reforms but these have come to naught, forcing the main opposition to boycott by-elections for nearly a year now.
Analysts canvassed by RadioVOP are adamant what the opposition needs, is to regroup, stop petty squabbles and forge a concerted and united front, arguing that it their fragmented formations they are likely not to achieve much.
Gladys Hlatywayo, a Harare-based political analyst, says it is abundantly clear Zimbabwe’s opposition is currently clueless and devoid of any concrete plans to rescue this country from the precipice.
“As a matter of fact, their lack of agenda is fuelling Zanu PF succession wars. There is no opposition to talk about at the present moment. They are nowhere to be seen on the political scene and this is not healthy for our democracy,” she said.
Tawanda Majoni, an editor of a weekly online Zimbabwe paper, said Zanu PF can afford the leisure of acute internal squabbles because it knows that the opposition is severely disoriented.
“It is disunited and all the political parties of note do not have effective strategies. They suffer leadership poverty hence the failure to seize on the opportunities provided by the disharmony in Zanu PF.
“Instead of turning themselves into terrace commentators of what is happening within the ruling party, they ought to focus on real social, political and economic issues. They need to combine efforts to or separately protest against poor service delivery, the liquidity crunch, failure by the executive to discharge its duties and absence of reforms.
“The opposition must take a lesson from how the opposition in South Africa combined to protest against Zuma in the on-going Nkandla saga. The bottom line is Zanu PF is taking everyone for granted because the opposition and civil society are too dislocated to act, in the wake of the 2013 general elections,” said Majoni.
But Obert Gutu, the MDC-T spokesperson, disagrees his party is clueless, saying such assertions are being peddled by Zanu PF and its sympathisers.
Gutu claims Tsvangirai remains the most popular leader in Zimbabwe.
”Mugabe is trying to divert attention by making reference to Tsvangirai and the MDC. Zanu PF is on fire; the centre can no longer hold,” Gutu said.
“The economy has collapsed and at least 3 million people are in urgent need of food aid. These are the issues that President Mugabe should be focusing on instead of expending his little energy chasing shadows.
“We would like to bring it to President Mugabe’s attention that Morgan Tsvangirai remains the most popular political leader in Zimbabwe. The MDC-T is the real deal, the only game in town.”
Jacob Mafume, spokesperson for the Tendai Biti led Peoples Democratic Party, said it was unfair to say the opposition is failing to take advantage of disharmony in the ruling party, saying his party was alive to the opportunities, including hammering a grand coalition.
“But if one rushes to cut wood from a falling tree it might collapse on you,” Mafume quipped.
“We are watching with interest and we will pick the pieces once the tree has fallen. Right now what we need to do is to lower our swords against each other and bury them into the back of Zanu PF which is the real enemy of the people of Zimbabwe. For now the whole show is imploding from within it does not require anyone jumping into the movie.”
Maxwell Saungweme, a development analyst closely following Zimbabwe’s politics, says there is a dearth of seriousness in opposition parties.
Saungweme pointed out that unlike in Kenya where opposition groups can easily coalesce to unseat a regime, Zimbabwe is a sorry case where opposition is heavily shattered and divided.
“Our opposition parties tend to focus on personalities and not issues and they will never succeed unless they change. Some of the opposition parties are decoys of Zanu and are there to cause confusion in the opposition movement so that Zanu PF remains in power. Genuine opposition parties are also heavily infiltrated by Zanu PF elements.”