With just a week before harmonised elections in Zimbabwe, it is clear that the opposition MDC-Alliance will lose more than the poll. The Alliance and its presidential candidate Mr Nelson Chamisa have lost the moral high ground the opposition had claimed for years and the attendant sympathies for the party seen as a righteous underdog.
In 2018, the opposition under the MDC banner has shown itself to be feral and rabid; valueless and largely a veritable danger to society.
Two major dangers have been called out.
The opposition is chauvinistic and sexist to the point of misogyny and this is not something particularly new.
The MDC has a history of violence with prominent women such as Trudy Stevenson, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Thokozani Khupe having been subjected to humiliation, physical violence and verbal abuse.
Their crimes have not been anything beyond claiming their places in the organisation and society, which they also wanted to contribute to and shape. These strong and independent women have been called names.
This collusion also involved MDC cousins in the civil society who have never stood up to the excesses of a rabid leadership that has humiliated and hounded women.
Lately, the same misogyny has been extended to commissioners at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, in particular the chair, Justice Priscilla Chigumba. Justice Chigumba has been called names and her name has been sung in derogatory songs.
The other prominent target at ZEC has been Commissioner Netsai Mushonga who is daily attacked on the online platform Twitter, itself a space where the worst of opposition intolerance has been witnessed.
The leadership of the MDC-Alliance has remained silent in all this, apparently enjoying the show.
This, from those of us who have known MDC long enough, is behaviour imported from Harvest House, the party’s headquarters in Harare where opponents have been beaten up and have had their clothes torn off while the leadership looked away or even encouraged the violence.
Organisations that deal with human rights, and in the present case, with rights of women, have been silent.
Last week, it took the visiting former Irish President Mary Robinson to call out this deplorable misogyny. The European Union head of mission here, Mr Philippe van Damme, also followed up with a statement on Twitter decrying patriarchy and sexism.
Expectedly, MDC-Alliance attack dogs went on the loose attacking The Elders, the group which came to Zimbabwe with former President Robinson and the European ambassador.
The myopic MDC-Alliance does not seem to see the grave consequences. It has not come clean on violence and in particular attacks on women. It is lulled by the noises of its mobs. Nothing else matters.
Yet this will cost the opposition heavily, especially when there are indications the organisation has reached its weakest point where it will soon advance to decomposition and breakdown.
Just as the world, including former opposition sympathisers, will not accept MDC-Alliance’s misogyny, it will also not allow lawlessness — a route the MDC-Alliance has threatened if it loses elections in a week’s time.
Lastly, we take note that development partners have pledged funds to help fight gender inequality.
We urge the partners to work with Government directly as it has the administrative capacity to direct resources in an accountable manner, rather than non-governmental organisations that not only lack capacity and accountability, but have been shown to be partial to a particular political party, leaving them wanting when cases of misogyny play out in the public domain.