Unpacking idea of opposition leader in Parly

Masimba Mavaza Correspondent
The President of Zimbabwe indicated that he is minded to create a formal position of a leader of the opposition in Parliament in line with the British and Commonwealth systems.

This raised great excitement in the opposition where the rumour mill got into action.

There was a seriously misinformed comment from the MDC-Alliance which exposes their utter ignorance of the work of the Leader of the Opposition.

Some went high and low proclaiming that Nelson Chamisa was to be smuggled into Parliament through the back door.

As expected, Chamisa rushed to comment, stating that he is not willing neither will he consider the offer.

The point Chamisa forgets is that he is not the opposition and the official position is not created for him if it is created.

The opposition’s main role is to question the Government of the day and hold them accountable to the public. The opposition represents an alternative government, and is responsible for challenging the policies of the government and producing different policies where appropriate.

As Leader of the Opposition, one is responsible for representing the opposition at State functions, meetings with dignitaries and other important events.

Attitudes to the role of the Leader of the Opposition should be taken into account by people who wish to anticipate what the opposition might do.

There may just be shades of meaning, as readers may see when thinking about the views on the role.

Under the Mixed Member Proportional scheme which the president was suggesting, other opposition parties with own attitudes can influence outcomes. The way opposition parties work together can influence the outcomes — if they succeed in working together and in building the “political numbers” they increase their chances of influencing the government.

There was never a suggestion that Chamisa could get a ticket to Parliament.

This is a wishful thinking by the misguided opposition members who are making out Chamisa to be a very important person in the country.

The creation of an opposition official leader’s position is meant to create accountability, not childish singing members who oppose anything.

The opposition’s main role is to question the government of the day and hold them accountable to the public.

The opposition represents an alternative government, and is responsible for challenging the policies of the government and producing different policies where appropriate.

Their position is not to create a GNU. This mentality that the losing party must be roped into the GNU is not born from a democratic thinking. Democracy simply means the winner takes all.

In England the leader of the largest opposition party is the Leader of the Official Opposition, which for the Commons and Lords is currently the Labour Party.

Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, leader of the Labour party, is the current Leader of the Official Opposition. This role commands an additional salary to the parliamentary salary received as an MP.

The Leader of the Official Opposition picks a “Shadow Cabinet” to follow the work of Government departments.

The leader of the opposition has to be a member of Parliament.

So for crying out loud Chamisa will have to surrender his leadership in Parliament to the most senior of his party members who is an MP. Unless the president appoints him as a non-constituency MP then he has to zip it and control his team through a remote control.

The duties of the leader of the opposition are that he controls his party to hold the government accountable. The suggestion by His Excellency was simply to put the wheels of democracy into motion.

Holding the Government accountable

It should be noted that one of the most important jobs of the opposition is to constantly question the Government.

“Any Government has to remain answerable to the public at all times, and a good opposition can put the spotlight on serious issues and have them resolved quickly”.

An active opposition will also debate legislation vigorously in the House and during the Select Committee process to ensure the legislation receives careful consideration.

Being in opposition is not just about opposing the Government.

“There are occasions when the opposition agrees with the Government. If the solution proposed by the Government has wide support, and is soundly based, then it’s only natural for the opposition to agree”.

The mentality of the MDC-Alliance is that anything the government does must be opposed.

“It’s also really important that the leader of opposition keeps a close eye and ear on what the public is saying, needs and wants — because problems are often caused by the Government not delivering.

The opposition is not meant to throw spanners in the engine of progress.

The serious and mature Leader of the Opposition has an important role to play in raising issues such as social welfare, Government spending and helping to grow the economy.

The mentality of the Zimbabwean opposition is like the jealous jilted girlfriend.

Opposition believes often opposing what the Government does is what they are meant to do.

Actually they are meant to be questioning what the Government is doing. This will be for the good of the nation and the progress of our democratic values.

The other major role is proposing alternatives to what the government is doing so the public gets the benefit of political debate between different directions, not to disturb the national business by seeking relevance.

The opposition’s role must not be only to “oppose, oppose, oppose”.

They must think of the role more constructively as holding the Government to account.

If you go about that in a positive way  you can cause Government to adopt positive proposals.

Now the noise being made by the opposition on the suggestion to create the position of the leader of the opposition defies logic.

This is the opposition which swore that they will put sand in the ZANU PF’s government and shouted clearly that HAIVHUYIWE. Meaning it will not be skinned, loosely translated to mean “we will sabotage any progress as long as we are not in power”.

This is the opposition we have and the president of Zimbabwe is dangling a hand of reconciliation in the best interest of the people of Zimbabwe but the opposition has already prevented the skinning of such a nobble idea.

The opposition must realise that if the position is created, Chamisa will not be in it because he is not a Member of Parliament.

So the President is not trying to lure Chamisa into Parliament otherwise the parliamentarians will be lied to everyday by Chamisa of the dripping mouth.

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