Zimbabwe's Opposition In Limbo

By Sij Ncube

Instead of taking advantage of President Robert Mugabe’s failings, particularly an imploding economy, the country’s opposition appears content with being petty, disorganised and divided.

Critics presently consider Mugabe to be at his weakest as he battles internal strife within Zanu (PF) after his wife Grace master-minded the dismal of former Vice President Joice Mujuru, former right hand-men Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo, and a coterie of other cadres suspected of plotting to oust him from power.

On March 3, 2015, Mutasa and Gumbo, on behalf of disgruntled Zanu (PF) colleagues targeted by Mugabe’s inner circle, took Mugabe and the party to court challenging their recent dismissal and seeking nullification of the party’s congress resolutions.

Analysts say the legal challenge confirms Zanu (PF) has been split into two for the first time since its formation in 1963, and gives an opportunity to the country’s main opposition parties to give him a run for his money.

Since former prime Morgan Tsvangirai and his formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) controversial lost to Mugabe and Zanu PF in July 2013, it has been in sixes and sevens.

Tsvangirai suffered a major blow after the polls when his former secretary general Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma broke away to former a splinter group known as MDC Renewal Team.

In 2005 former secretary general Welshman Ncube had also broken away from Tsvangirai allegedly dictatorial tendencies, the same reason Biti and company alleged when they broke away.

Biti and Ncube have initiated a process to unite their two formations into a new party – the United Movement for Democratic Change (UMDC).

However, at the unification launch of the two formations, party officials took turns to denouncing Tsvangirai, emphasizing they would fight Mugabe in 2018 without Tsvangirai. On his part, Tsvangirai has instituted a renewed bid to push out of parliament members of the UMDC who broke away from him after he controversially lost to Mugabe in July 31, 2013.

The MDC-T leader want at least 21 legislators kicked out of parliament in the same manner Zanu (PF) kicked out Mutasa and Temba Mliswa.  Opposition critics say the cats fights in the opposition is confirmation the opposition is in limbo.

“There is no direction, no vision, no strategy and nothing really beyond the anti-Mugabe mantra,” says Nhlanhla Ngwenya, the national director of Harare-based media institute, about the country’s opposition.

Zimbabwe development analyst Maxell Saungweme agrees the Zimbabwe opposition is not very organised, lacks clarity and proper strategies to take on the old Mugabe.

“Their weaknesses are also reflective of the general attitude of the people who have resigned to fate and put hope on the gods to give Mugabe a rest before change comes. The opposition parties don’t help the situation at all. They lack depth on alternative policies to Zanu (PF) policies that are not working. The opposition also lack visionary leadership and internal democracy,” he says.

Without the capacity to propose alternative policies, operate democratically internally and standing as a united front against Zanu (PF), opposition parties in Zimbabwe would never deliver change or succeed against Mugabe or whoever will eventually succeed him, adds Saungweme.

“There is need for democratic change first within opposition parties in Zimbabwe before they dream of changing Zanu (PF) and ushering democratic change to the nation.”

Political analyst Takura Zhangazha believes the solution is finding common ground with some of the leaders ceding political positions, even if temporarily in order to win an election.

“If they fight for power within their ranks, they will dissipate and their legacies will be tarnished.”