HARARE – There is an unprecedented groundswell of anger across the political and social divides in the country against President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s misrule, with analysts saying yesterday that this boded well for keenly-anticipated national elections scheduled for 2018.
Among the prominent political players who have raised their voices against the country’s deteriorating political and economic climate are opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa, MKD leader Simba Makoni, United MDC leading lights Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti, outspoken war veteran and former legislator Margaret Dongo, and former Zanu PF stalwarts such as Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo and ex-war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda.
Analysts told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that it was good that key opposition figures were increasingly speaking out against undemocratic tendencies in Zanu PF and the country.
However, they added, this did not mean that the opposition was in a position to take Mugabe and Zanu PF head-on at the moment.
Dewa Mavhinga, who is with Human Rights Watch, said while the criticism of the ruling party was good for democracy, the fact still remained that power in Zimbabwe did not reside in political parties per se and was also not secured through normal democratic processes like elections.
“Instead, those who wield political power like President Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF party rely on State institutions including the highly-partisan and politicised leadership of the security forces.
“Therefore, although Mujuru and company may add to the number of people unhappy with Mugabe’s dictatorship, the key to seriously confronting Mugabe and Zanu PF lies in reforming security forces and other State institutions which are under Mugabe and Zanu PF’s partisan control,” he said.
He added that any grand coalition that could emerge in the country would not necessarily be effective going forward for as long as State institutions like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were allegedly in Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s pocket.
“The only successful political grand coalition against Mugabe and Zanu PF is one that cuts the political umbilical cord that unites Zanu PF and the State and stops Zanu PF from getting its life-blood from the State.
“With genuinely strong, independent and democratic institutions in place, including an independent and non-partisan Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a political grand coalition would not even be necessary as Zanu PF would naturally be history,” he said.
Mavhinga said Mugabe’s former allies, who were now disgruntled with his misrule, just like the opposition, were hamstrung by the fact that they were long-standing beneficiaries of Mugabe’s patronage and Zanu PF’s corrupt tendencies.
“This might compromise them and prevent them from joining hands with opposition forces to fight Mugabe who can easily have them stripped of all their wealth and social status overnight.
“In order to protect their ill-gotten wealth, many of these Zanu PF rejects may decide to quietly walk away from the political scene without openly challenging Mugabe in a grand coalition,” he said, citing the threats to arrest former Vice President Joice Mujuru and takeover former senior party official Ray Kaukonde’s farm as examples.
Analyst Shephered Mntungwa said it was good for Zimbabwe’s nascent democracy that leading opposition figures were speaking with one voice against Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s misrule.
“It’s unprecedented that the opposition is speaking with one voice against misrule in the country. Zimbabweans are generally used to hearing a divided and confused opposition that is more adept at sniping against each other than pushing the ruling party.
“To that extent, the opposition can be positive going into the critical 2018 elections, particularly if one takes into account the likelihood that President Mugabe, who is the glue that holds Zanu PF together, will probably not participate in those polls,” he said.
But Kent law lecturer, Alex Magaisa, said an anti-Mugabe approach alone was not enough to unite the ousted Zanu PF cadres and opposition parties.
“This has been the approach for the last 15 years and it has not worked. Besides, everything shows that we are entering a post-Mugabe phase and therefore uniting because you are against Mugabe is by itself not enough.
“Zanu PF is busy reinventing itself but there is no traction in the opposition forces. So I am not very optimistic that there will really be a formidable force against Zanu PF. The opposition elements have to get over their often petty differences first and identify an ideological point that unites them,” Magaisa said.
Criticism of Mugabe and the ruling party has been strident over the past few months, particularly since feisty First Lady Grace Mugabe entered the political fray — amid allegations that there had effectively been a “bedroom coup” at State House, as many of her threats and pronouncements have come to pass.
In addition, Mugabe, who turns 91 in February, has fallen out with most of his trusted former liberation war colleagues, who have since criticised him and the party of liberation, particularly its controversial damp squib “elective” congress that was held in Harare earlier this month.
They have also gone on to accuse Mugabe of subverting the party’s constitution and making unilateral decisions to suit his and Grace’s interests.
Former Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, for one, has described the congress as a “farce”.
“Even the most impartial observer could not fail to regard the recent Congress of the governing party, Zanu PF, as a farce,” he said.
Expelled former Zanu PF spokesperson Gumbo described the congress as a circus that could mark the last rites of the former liberation movement.
Gumbo like former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, believed Zanu PF had been hijacked by chancers.
Sibanda, like Gumbo, has since been expelled from the party, and also been incarcerated under controversial circumstances for allegedly undermining Mugabe and coining the widely popular “bedroom coup” saying.
His case is still pending at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts.
Former Home Affairs minister, Dabengwa has also added his voice on the unsavoury goings-on in Zanu PF, asserting that he is devising a new plan to fight the ruling party.
“As Zapu, we are in discussions with the ousted Zanu PF cadres, the likes of former Vice President Joice Mujuru, Gumbo, Kaukonde, Mutasa and the engagements are on course as we try to put our heads together to prevent dictatorship because we foresee that there is the possibility of it in the party.
“The ousted cadres shouldn’t take their fate lying down,” Dabengwa was quoted in lickspittle State media yesterday.
Even outspoken former Zanu PF party legislator, Margaret Dongo, panned Mugabe and the ruling party for their misrule, alleging that the nonagenarian was in fact being abused by some party officials who harboured sinister motives.
But political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya criticised the opposition for not doing enough to push Mugabe and Zanu PF.
“The opposition is in comatose. Where is Tsvangirai? Where is Welshman? Where is Biti?” he asked, adding that Zanu PF could even afford to do what it was doing because there was no vibrant force challenging it.
He told the Daily News on Sunday that the MDC formations were “descending and not ascending”, adding that there was a danger that they might even sink into political oblivion.
“If Zanu PF is having problems, it does not mean Tsvangirai is gaining ground. The critical aspect is to look for long term reforms in the electoral process,” he said.