By Canisio Mudzimu
A RADICAL paradigm shift is necessary to extricate opposition politics of this country from the doldrums of extinction and annihilation as the status quo is fraught with “own-goals” that gift the ruling party and “strategies” that monumentally fail to convince those sitting on the fence to wake up from the slumber of voter apathy.
As the opposition dithers and remains ensconced in its shells of quiescence and indecision, the little vociferous voices from the other section of the so-called opposition are busy lauding the ruling party, which in turn is reciprocating by parading defectors from the same hero-worshipping opposition in a classical dog-eat-dog scenario.
What is clear is that as long as the opposition politicians continue on this route of fragmentation, ideological bankruptcy, indecision, and intra-party and inter-party fighting, they are assured of one thing — they are galloping towards the precipice of oblivion and political quagmire and playing into the grand strategy of the ruling party.
As long as the opposition is busy opposing itself and positioning itself as an extension of the ruling party and not as the alternative government, its fate is sealed.
If nothing is done now to avert the decimation of opposition politics in Zimbabwe, come 2023, words like “resoundingly” will be incessantly and deafeningly echoed in this country as the opposition continues to be relegated to the preripheries of political relevance.
I do not want to sound pessimistic but there are wide gaps that the opposition should fill as part of the political Holy Grail for Zimbabwean politics in order to promote democracy and accountability, and give the opposition an iota of chance of winning elections.
As Lise Rakner and Nicolas van de Walle (2009) pointed out in their article in the Journal of Democracy: “Opposition parties have remained numerically weak and fragmented, and unable to carry out their roles of political counterweight to the victorious party and president.” Time to change that trajectory is now!
Avoid inter-party and intra-party fighting
The infighting and Mickey Mouse battles that have characterised the opposition in this country have managed to divert its attention from the reason for its existence — opposition.
It is paradoxical that the energy, resources, time and effort expended on the fights have moved opposition parties’ eyes from the ball and by the time they smell the coffee, it will be too late.
As Alan Moore once said: “If you are going to have any kind of political opposition in the 21st century, then it has to be as fundamentally liquid as the rapidly changing society we are living in.”
The unequivocal truth is that there should come a time when it is necessary to relagate personal interests for the overall good, to even talk to your enemies — real or perceived — and to try to reach a compromise in order to come up with a united not fragmented front.
Zimbabwe is suffering from opposition malnourishment and this can only be reversed through the coming together of opposition political parties and mending relations within parties that are “unnecessarily” splitting as victims of the “divide and rule” philosophy that is being used against them.
Besides confusing the electorate and consigning it to voter apathy and a “chero zvazvaita sekupira mbudzi yekuba” (whatever the outcome) mentality, the supporters and potential supporters lose hope, hence the present status quo is a death wish for opposition politics in the country.
It is high time opposition politicians introspected and changed tact before it is too late for them to overcome the weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
Truce is necessary among the competing elements so that a perfect coalition is formed to resuscitate opposition politics of this country, which is currently in the intensive care unit and might be transferred to the morgue if no urgent remedial action is taken.
In a survey that was conducted by the Afrobarometer in 2014 to fathom why opposition parties in southern Africa struggle to win power, it was found that they face a smorgasbord of obstacles, which include — the fact that they aren’t trusted as much as governing parties and that very often they aren’t seen as a viable alternative to the dominant ruling party.
This perception or misconception, whichever is applicable, is a child of a myriad of factors such as infighting and propensity for fractionalisation as alluded to above but can also be due to poor mobilisation and shoddy image building and outreach initiatives to position the opposition parties as the government-in-waiting.