Why coalition politics matters

Inclusive development in Zimbabwe can only emerge where we embrace diversity in our political views, but that diversity must have a collective purpose, which should be bigger than individuals or one single political party or political brand.

We, therefore, must hasten to engender a deliberate synthesis of diverse opposition political parties into a collective democratic effort that seeks to dislodge President Robert Mugabe’s dictatorship, whose days are surely numbered.

The idea that a singular political entity can represent all our diverse aspirations is an unattainable fallacy fraught with the potential of manipulation. It is most likely to result in the entrenchment of specific individuals with specific political motives and interests, which will invariably work against popular common interests. This we have learnt from the Zanu PF political hegemony of the last 36 years.

We must do our utmost to work towards a multi-party inclusive democracy if we are to rescue our country and our future, but that multiplicity of political interests must be managed in a constructive manner to avoid unnecessary contestation and strife, which continue to divide us and inadvertently gives advantage to the dictator.


I think it is important that we all appreciate that none of us has all the solutions to the problems we are facing. We can only maximise our potential through co-operating with others who may think differently. Secondly, we really all want the same results, which are — the fall of a dictatorship and its replacement with an inclusive democratic dispensation, which respects the Constitution.

We need to understand that the political system we inherited from colonialism was based on creating protection mechanisms, both political and economic, for a white minority against a black majority. In this scenario of exclusive political and economic structures for the white minority, the intention was to limit political competition and prevent the emergence of rival black political interests. In fact, the latter were deliberately suppressed and stifled by the colonial State machinery, as is the case now.

At independence we merely inherited these colonial structures and the underpinning laws and did nothing to change their fundamental nature. As a result, we allowed Zanu PF to consolidate its political power and hegemony to become a protected struggle elite minority, who basically took over the position of the colonial white minority at the expense of representing the interests of the majority. That needs to change.

This hegemony was achieved not only by leaving intact the colonial legal, political and economic architecture, but by the forced unity agreement between Zanu PF and PF Zapu to create the false impression, a ruse, that indeed we had a united political entity and therefore common broad interests only within Zanu PF.

Unless we change these, we will not be successful in causing a fundamental shift both in our political and economic architecture, which remains archaic and out of date with the overwhelming call for total freedom and the emancipation of our citizens.

In our bid to dismantle this dictatorship, we cannot expect that the very same structures and laws that have created a dictatorship will work for us in creating an inclusive democracy. Our approach must, therefore, be significantly different from the past.

That new approach needs to appreciate that exclusive political structures, where the winner takes all, actually limit our potential and also limit the pool of talent from which we can draw the necessary skills to create a modern economy. They also limit the broad and free participation of citizens in using politics to determine without any hindrance who leads them as we have experienced to date.

Our first reaction must, therefore, be that of political co-operation and collaboration amongst opposition political parties. This not only creates an ethos of appreciating our differences and using them as a strength, not as a weakness, but also creates the necessary mass momentum towards change, which we desperately need. Diversity of views is not our enemy, as has been promoted by Zanu PF, but rather our friend in aiding us to create an inclusive and participative democracy.

Our counter narrative to the status quo is that we can no longer expect a nation that has exclusive political structures to be relevant and to create a modern democracy with a vibrant inclusive economy. We can no longer afford any one political party to dominate the State because, invariably, State resources will be abused to once more entrench its vested interests and create a dictatorship.

If I had a magic wand, I would gather all our opposition political parties into one room and get them to establish a single united front. This front would be composed of individuals nominated from each and every opposition political formation, locally and abroad. Its mandate would be to force Zanu PF to implement political reforms by all means necessary and if not, motivate all citizens to take action until Zanu PF capitulates.

You see, we have been talking too much on the sidelines, while expecting Zanu PF to listen to our calls for change. We collectively have nothing to offer but harsh words and continuous criticism, but these are not working. We need a new strategy that ensures that Zanu PF is forced by circumstances to do the necessary and implement political reforms. They will not do so willingly.

In addition to the above, our citizens must also realise that our country is operating way below its potential and we must not be comfortable with the status quo. We all need to actively support a political process of coalition and the collective confrontation of Zanu PF in order to rescue Zimbabwe from the clutches of a dictatorship, which has failed to improve our quality of life, but insists in staying put at all costs.

We cannot leave this effort to political parties alone, but our collective voices must now be heard. Zanu PF will not change voluntarily until we the progressive citizens of this country force them to change. We have no option.

If we take that route, I have no doubt the international community would be obliged to support Zimbabwean citizens in their quest for substantive change.

If there is anytime we must sacrifice and act for the greater good of our country, it is now.

lVince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on vtmusewe@gmail.com

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