By Robert Sigauke
It was at the funeral wake of the late MDC Alliance MP, Anna Muyambo where Zengeza West legislator Job Sikhala noted that the MDC Alliance, despite its so-called huge following and popularity, would still be eluded by power if it did not come up with a formula to translate this so-called huge popularity to political power. This was the most profound statement we have heard from an opposition politician in a long while.
The Alliance has been in a whirlwind since the assault on its legitimacy by Thokozani Khupe and her group. The situation was further driven into doldrums by the Alliance leader not providing direction or counter action, further plunging the mainstream opposition into uncertainty. The mass recalls of its MPs and councillors did not move Nelson Chamisa, he preferred to keep quiet and watch from the sidelines like all of us.
To this day, Chamisa argues that his silence is a strategy, although we all still wonder the effectiveness thereof and we are yet to see the profit seeing that Douglas Mwonzora and Khupe have been intentional, decisive and combative, effectively taking charge and directing the course.
The Alliance was reduced to a group of spectators and victims of each of Khupe’s whim and whip, pick and kick. It is very true that Khupe has neither clout nor distance to last, but the best she has proven is that the Alliance is a cocktail of sheepish loudmouths with likewise supporters behind them.
The courts in Zimbabwe are not captured, the honourable men and women of the bench serve what is on the menu, they decide what is brought before them. For one, I personally argued that the appointment of Elias Mudzuri and Chamisa as vice-presidents was unconstitutional, nobody listened. In blatant disregard of the party constitution, Chamisa rode on mourners to usurp the party presidency before the late Morgan Tsvangirai was put to rest in the Humanikwa village of Buhera.
In the court fights against Mwonzora, the sheepish Harare lawyers argued that the Alliance was a political party despite the clear provisions of the Alliance document before them. Also, Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume incited July 31 demonstrations at the height of the pandemic, in condemnation and exposure of thousands of poor Harare residents to COVID-19, despite the incapacity of hospitals, secondly in violation of the law, yet the same Harare lawyers claim Chin’ono had no case to answer! How empty and wily they are?
The madness does not end there. After appealing the High Court ruling that declared Khupe the legitimate leader of the MDC-T, the Alliance argued that the ruling did not apply to it, which motion they themselves had brought on appeal before the Supreme Court in the first place. The public relations apparatus of the Alliance had really gone nuts.
Even if the ruling party is to be kicked out of office in the next elections, which I do not see happening though, there is no doubt it will be an effective opposition with real and clear chances of unseating whichever government would have occupied office.
What is it that Zanu PF would do as an opposition that the MDC Alliance is not doing?
Development real solution not meal collusions
In the towns they govern, the opposition only colludes in meal deals, but the management of public programmes and utilities is in tatters from Bulawayo to Harare. The land reform programme, farm mechanisation initiative, indigenisation programme in the modes of production, farm input programmes. These are but some of the developmental programmes the ruling party embarked on to cushion and restore the dignity of our people.
Being a mixed economy, heavily dependent on natural resources, it is by no mistake nor favour that the agro-programmes receive the most attention from a Zanu PF government.
Therefore, township folks must not lose this fact to reason. Zanu PF as an opposition will support farmers and communities whose sustenance is anchored on natural resources, while the Alliance loots the small coffers entrusted to them.
Be a real party, not a tea party
From unending splits to the betrayal of the very ethos they allege to have been founded on, the MDC and its thousands of formations have shown the Zimbabwean people that it is a movement of dissatisfied, bitter and power-hungry people who care less about the virtues they bark about during the day. The rampant corruption prevalent in the opposition-run town councils belies the objectives of an alleged transparent party of excellence. Needless to say the alleged financial audit which was announced to the world by a whole leadership ensemble in front of cameras was a smoke-screen to discourage further digging.
The Alliance leadership is complicit in this charade and shame in covering up for the misappropriation of funds by some of the leadership. Zanu PF has its own factional fights, but splits are never in essence. It merely sheds the unwanted sons and daughters who would have crossed the line and in effect, most trudge their way back to the revolutionary party. They understand the profit of fighting in unison against the same enemy, something the good Alliance still needs to learn.
Meet on streets, not feast on tweets
What a bunch of tweeting noise-makers! Zanu PF is busy hitting the ground running for the 2023 elections, while the Alliance barks Chin’ono is innocent on Twitter. It is this elitist approach that costs the opposition a good number of votes come every election. The Registrar-General’s Office will tell you the most voters are based or reside in the rural areas, where internet and technology penetration lags behind.
The people there do not know or care about Twitter, they care about bread and butter issues, about sustainable development that will take care of generations of their descendants. A fallen from grace former Cabinet minister now allegedly hiding somewhere in East Africa once retorted that, at a SAPES Trust episode, Zanu PF does not need to rig elections, it has 2,5 million members in its books. These are the numbers it greet every morning and parcel out necessities to. The Twitter noise makers do not vote, they are in the diaspora or chasing money at Copacabana on election day. Swallow that.
Keep the government on defence or sit on the fence
The role of opposition parties is to keep the government of the day accountable, in check and to avoid repression. The role of the opposition is to provide alternative solutions to contribute towards development. These solutions must be clearly set out and explained in understandable language and terms, how they brawl the conundrums bedevilling the country and in what way are they better suited than the measures being taken by the government.
In simpler terms it is not all that the opposition must do day-in day-out, to point out the failings of our economy and governance, the media are there for that. The opposition must go further to provide policy alternatives which engage the citizenry and proffer real solutions to achieve the national aspirations for all Zimbabweans.
Having clear, concise and formidable policy platforms will keep the government on its toes to defend its own policies, lose confidence, and be tamed politically in fear of losing electoral ground. MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti’s alternative state of the economy addresses were in a promising direction. The idea of opposition is not merely to throw spanners in the works of the government for the sake of it, it is equally important to complement government efforts here noble causes are undertaken in order to gain trust of the people that the cause of the opposition is really to develop the country.
Bank on evolution not devolution
What has kept Zanu PF in power for so long is its ability to shed off old skin, but still remain the old serpent. This allows it to be appealing to voters in every election because of solid policies and effective execution plans. What can one say, the revolution trusts them.
The Zimbabwean neo-liberation revolution is going forward, changing to suit the present-day circumstances. Since inception the mantra of the opposition has always been Zanu must go, nothing more nothing less. What then Zanu PF if it goes? It is a public secret that the opposition’s main selling point in Matabeleland is devolution, deliberately done to whip up emotions and retain the region at odds with the government.
The idea of devolution works best in larger countries, with pronounced multi-regional and tribal disparities, and usually with militant populations. As a measure of control, the central government will then empower notable figures within that population group to stifle tribal blame-games.
In Zimbabwe, things do not work that way, we are a small country with most regions not able to sustain a regional economy strong enough to run their own affairs.