Talk of the country’s opposition political parties to coalesce and form a formidable force against President Robert Mugabe’s leadership in the forthcoming 2018 elections is important for all Zimbabweans keen to see change of tack to the Zanu PF governance style that has left people in a circle of poverty for a long time now.
But it is the opposition parties’ thinking that gets us nowhere. It appears the opposition leaders are already angling to position themselves at vantage points for purposes of leading the coalition as if it is given they will win against Mugabe.
It would be foolhardy for former Vice-President Joice Mujuru — who fronts the shadowy People First (PF) project — to consider herself the automatic leader of the grand opposition coalition in the making. Clearly, it would also not make sense for Mujuru, who is yet to register a political party, to immediately want to head for the driving seat in an amalgamation of parties — some of which have been in the trenches fighting Zanu PF’s misrule for years.
It is the parties’ warning to Mujuru that, however, shows a sense of mistrust among the opposition forces yet they all must be driven by a common goal. Coalitions cannot succeed if people go in to seek lofty positions for themselves and their cronies. There has to be consensus on who leads the coalition.
The fact that Mujuru and her band of faithfuls that come across as disgruntled former Zanu PF members whose only reason for joining the opposition was solely because they had been fired from Zanu PF leaves them in a compromising position.
Mujuru maybe popular, yes, but what is stopping her from establishing herself by launching her political project? It appears that so far Mujuru has existed in the corridors more than on the ground. What of Didymus Mutasa? What of Rugare Gumbo? Will they inspire the confidence of voters seeking to dissociate themselves from everything Zanu PF — a system that this group has been part of for 35 long years?
Although Mujuru may command respect within opposition circles, it takes much more than that to lead a grand coalition of opposition forces. Yet, Gumbo’s utterances point to power-hungry individuals and that does not augur well for the ex-Vice President’s image. On the other hand, Gumbo is clear of what they want, and going into the discussions indeed every party must have their candidate and if Mujuru wins the backing, there is no problem in her taking the leadership of the opposition. What is important is the fact that the decision would have been collective.
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Zimbabweans are clear of what they want — many have had their aspirations shattered due to Zanu PF’s misrule and are, therefore, determined to upset the apple cart at the next general election given the ructions in the governing party.
So whether it is Mujuru, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, People’s Democratic Party’s Tendai Biti or anybody else does not matter for as long as the candidate has the wherewithal to stop Mugabe’s misgovernance.
Therefore, the opposition including Mujuru, if she chooses to be identified as such, must be aware that pro-democracy politics demands people with a servant leadership mentality.
No doubt fighting as individual opposition parties will only divide the opposition vote and that could work to Mugabe’s advantage. If these opposition political leaders really have the country at heart as they would have us believe, then they will have to find a way of accommodating and embracing each other for the good of Zimbabwe.