THE great sage of the mid-nineteenth century, Anon, who wrote thoughtful and inspiring pieces used today by the motivation industry, once said something that is as true for Zimbabwe today as it was in those medieval times. Anon wrote: “I cannot say whether things will get better if they change, but what I know for a fact is that they have to change if they are to get better.” This statement is packed with the truth. There are times when we cannot be sure of what happens if things change but the situation would be demanding that change takes place if, by any chance.
By Learnmore Zuze
Zimbabwe has known the rule of one party since independence. Zanu PF has been the party in power in the last 37 years; their modus operandi is well-known to us. Their style of doing things we have seen; their promises we have heard and the coming into power of Emmerson Mnangagwa took a slight departure from the previous administration, way of doing things. Mnangagwa was ushered into power amidst a huge cloud of expectation. A massive weight lay on his shoulders when he jetted into the country from his brief exile after falling out with then President, Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa came in with fiery promises to root out corruption and restore Zimbabwe’s dignity. It must be acknowledged that his time wasn’t that long but seven months, still, is a long time in politics. While it must be acknowledged that there have been some notable positives, in the main, Zimbabwe has remained stagnant with a decaying industry and a suffering population. What seems to have changed generally is the absence of heavy-handedness by State organs as was the case under Mugabe’s rule. Universities continue churning out jobless graduates. The civil service also continues to wail over poor working conditions. Those with pending theft and corruption cases continue to roam the streets putting paid to popular sentiment that Mnangagwa’s administration is all about speeches and nothing on the action side of things.
To be precise, Zimbabwe still hopes for a new day as the late musician, Edwin Hama, sang. This country requires change and the change is yet to come. Personally I don’t see the change coming from the present system. I would, therefore, borrow Anon’s shrewd statement that we cannot say whether things will get better if they change, but that they definitely have to change if they are to get better.
This naturally casts the nation’s eyes on the main opposition under the MDC Alliance banner led by Nelson Chamisa. This alliance is precisely the alternative government in the eyes of Zimbabweans who eagerly seek for change.
However, with less than eight weeks to go to elections, developments on the ground are worrying. Apart from the rallies that have seen the alliance moving from one town to the next to promote its bid, the opposition doesn’t seem to be visible to the masses. Here I mean visibility in the literal sense. It was not going to cost much to print thousands of fliers to just distribute around. It is the noise that matters in politics. The kind of noise made around Chamisa after the BBC Hardtalk programme is the kind of noise that should run until the election campaign ends.
There have been no posters on the MDC Alliance presidential candidate. Psychology tells us that most people are better influenced by images. Surely, the information department for the alliance is sleeping on the wheel. Even more, no newspaper insertions have been seen in the run-up to the campaign. Some will remember this department in the early years of the MDC headed by the late Learnmore Jongwe; there was an update on the MDC every Monday. It would appear the MDC Alliance is about to fall into the same trap that has haunted opposition politics over the years, namely complacent behaviour.
The days of Morgan Tsvangirai were very typical of complacency and worrying confidence. It was as sure as daylight that the opposition would allege rigging after every election yet they wouldn’t have done enough on their part to ensure victory. No political party deserves to be overconfident in elections. Many deserving candidates have paid dearly for taking it for granted that the electorate would vote for them. A party has to be visible through posters and even the littlest of things like fliers. Should cost be the factor, social media can effectively work for the better. The current happenings are worrying in the opposition. There is more to campaign visibility than rallies.
The opposition is running out of time. Disgruntlement of the masses cannot be relied on this time around.
Learnmore Zuze is a law officer and writes in his own capacity. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org