HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsIs a coalition really that essential?

Is a coalition really that essential?

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SOME things are worth more trouble than it’s worth. If examined closely and dispassionately, they are not worth the trouble at all.

BY CONWAY TUTANI

At this rate, the stuttering talks to build a coalition against the Zanu regime ahead of next year’s election could leave the opposition — the genuine, weighty opposition — in deeper disarray than it was before the negotiations started.

And the biggest loser of them all, naturally, could be the MDC-T by virtue of being the biggest opposition outfit of them all in Zimbabwe. The Zanu PF regime is naturally intent on exploiting divisions in the opposition.

Who, in their right political wisdom, would let go such a golden opportunity? The much-hyped MDC Alliance is proving to be an unmitigated disaster.

It has caused nothing, but trouble. One would totally agree with President Robert Mugabe that’s it has mostly been about adding zeros to zeros — an exercise in futility if ever there was.

It doesn’t matter who says them because facts remain facts, because facts are stubborn. There has been infinitesimal value addition to the opposition.

So, it’s time for the MDC-T to seriously ask itself: Is it really worth the trouble to go round in circles in what is turning out to be a costly political charade? Is it worth it to split a long-established party believed to have won, against all odds, at least two elections on its own?

The positive thing is that better sense is beginning to prevail in the MDC-T. A report this week read: “MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has appointed his deputy, Thokozani Khupe as acting president while he recovers from his current illness in a move widely seen as mending relations between the two heavyweights, who have been at loggerheads over the party’s alliance with fringe political parties.”

That’s realpolitik of the highest order; it’s politics based on pragmatic and practical factors, not some idealistic notion of principle that you have to agree on everything in order to work together.

And it’s not being sarcastic, scornful or an exaggeration for the report to describe those parties the MDC-T is mired with as “fringe political parties”. They are as small as can be, making them, for all intents and purposes, nonentities. So, they need to be put in their proper place, where they will be heard less and, at the most, only serve as a non-significant nuisance factor. We should now refer to Elton Mangoma as “Elton who?” so as not to be distracted from the main goal.

Some people, if left to their own devices, will not disappoint: They will do worse than you conservatively predicted. Sooner rather than later, Mangoma and Tendai Biti (pictured) started turning on each other when the political growth didn’t materialise after breaking away from MDC-T. This all shows there were no strong political grounds, there was no solid political basis for going it alone. Now Mangoma cuts a forlorn figure as his people desert back to MDC-T; and Biti, of all people, is swearing by the MDC Alliance.

And it’s time to stop this nonsense that whenever a politician from Matabeleland begs to differ with those from other provinces, it somehow has got to do with tribalism, but when it’s the other way round, it’s not tribalism. Stop it! Khupe’s tribe is neither here nor there. It’s that she is aggrieved, especially this coming after Tsvangirai appointed two more MDC-T vice-presidents in addition to her and, however, you look at it, this has had the effect of undermining her authority. Now it’s her again, who is being made to give up the most political turf in furtherance of a coalition of increasingly doubtful value. Khupe was bound to ask: “Why me all the time?” So, those accusing her of tribalism can do better than that.

Back to the main issue, where confusion more than anything else is reigning. Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP), for example, has been all over the place. The PDP started by hedging against losses through double-dipping in both the Congress of Democrats (Code) and Zimbabwe National Electoral Reform Agenda (Zinera) like a footballer simultaneously playing for both Dynamos and Highlanders in the same game to ensure whatever the result, he wins.

Well, you can’t have it both ways. Prior to that, soon after Mujuru threw in her lot with the opposition, Biti declared that he was lining up behind her, as the opposition’s presidential candidate. Now Biti has shifted to Tsvangirai, what does this say about him? Erratic? Expedient? Confused? Excitable? Unreliable? How long before he erupts against Tsvangirai again?

This synopsis by Mathias Kundayi this week cannot be faulted: “The PDP has morphed into a mere political party copycat of the same old same by the failed cadre of lawyers and NGO employees, whose understanding of struggle isn’t blood, sweat and tears and serious organisation required.” It’s nothing personal against the PDP, but that’s the truth of the fact of the matter.

Observed Lovemore Fuyane again this week: “The other absolutely massive assumption during these (coalition) talks was that a 2017 Biti is the same as a 2014 one and a 2017 (Welshman) Ncube the same one as one from 2004, etc. Politics is way more dynamic than that. So . . . a coalition was more desirable soon after the 2005 split than now. The context is way too different now. It’s the same word of caution I would give anyone wanting to ‘merge with Mujuru today: She is not the 2014 Mujuru, who walked out of Zanu PF on principle.”

While it’s disputable that Mujuru “walked out” on principle, she has lost a lot of political traction since then having split from Zimbabwe People Firts (ZimPF) and rebranding to National People’s Party. Mujuru failed to exploit the initial wave of sympathy and goodwill towards her from people across the political divide and neutrals, who were angered and outraged at her shabby treatment by a party she had served loyally, not necessarily distinguishably, for a lifetime.

And it’s not being sarcastic, scornful or an exaggeration, but an established fact that Biti and Ncube lost a mighty substantial amount of political capital when they broke away from the MDC-T. That’s why Biti’s vain attempt to expel Tsvangirai from the MDC-T in 2014 dismally failed and, at best, provided comic relief, resulting in him eventually giving up the fight and rebranding his political outfit to PDP from MDC Renewal Team.

Concluded Fuyane: “So our real job . . . is to convince the 58%, who currently don’t vote, to resume having an interest in the affairs of their country. That’s a far more pertinent imperative than all these wheelings and dealings. Fifty eight percent s the majority, folks.”

It’s time for a serious rethink as to whether building a coalition is really worth the trouble.

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