Uebert Angel

The leader of Spirit Embassy The Good News Church has called for a collective effort to fight against Cholera.

Speaking through his spokesperson Prophet Angel said “it is a tragedy that we have an epidemic such as Cholera devastating families and lives lost due to a disease that can be eradicated easily. Now is the time for the nation of Zimbabwe to unite and put aside political differences and all sorts of bickering. ”

Prophet Angel urged churches to pull together to source funds to help the Ministry of Health and the local authorities to contain the outbreak of this deadly virus.

“Spirit Embassy The Good News Church stands ready to play it’s part in the fight against Cholera prayer alone wont cut it. It’s time we poured material resources to help the devastated communities”

The U.K. based church leader has urged his members to take steps to help curb the cholera outbreak in the country. The newly appointed Health Minister, Obadiah Moyo, told journalists that there were 3,766 cases of cholera in the outbreak; which had claimed 25 lives thus far. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the disease was spreading rapidly in the capital Harare.

“The role of the modern church in the life of the 21st-century believer is critical because it fills a void only the church can. Every Church must stand with the community to fight this epidemic. Prayer is important yes, but practical solutions have to be proffered and resources are critical at a time like this. Our Harare pastors lead by Pastor Felix Chikase will work closely with our head office and communicate what help and resources they need going forward.” His spokesman Pastor Rikki Doolan said.

He went on to say “Our members will soon be out on cleanup initiatives and on an health awareness campaign first in the affected areas and generally across the country. We are a community focused church and we will work closely with the local authorities and stand ready to help.”

This is not the first time that Spirit Embassy The Good News Church has sprung to action. Last year during the Zambian Cholera out break The Uebert Angel Foundation responded to the cholera outbreak to Zimbabwe’s northern neighbours Zambia by dispatching a crack team to help with the coordination of aid as well as the clean-up exercise.

Members of Spirit Embassy The Good News Church equipped with cleaning equipment from The Uebert Angel Foundation took to the epicentre of the cholera outbreak in Lusaka to help with the clean-up exercise to mitigate and try to control and contain the cholera epidemic.

Elias Mudzuri

Several MDC-T bigwigs, who include sitting Members of Parliament and deputy president Engineer Elias Mudzuri, yesterday described the ongoing primary elections as a sham amid indications that over 80 candidates had filed complaints to the party’s national election directorate.

Most senior party members lost the primary elections characterised by violence, chaos and allegations of vote rigging.

Sitting legislators such as Messrs Gift Chimanikire, (Southerton), Webster Maondera (Glen Norah) Fani Munengami (Glen View North) James Maridadi (Tafara/Mabvuku) and Simon Chidhakwa (Zengeza West) lost the primary polls.

Other bigwigs who lost include Mr Jameson Timba (Mount Pleasant) and women assembly chairperson, Ms Lynette Karenyi (Dangamvura-Chikanga).

Highly placed sources said Eng Mudzuri was livid over the decision to subject him to primary elections in Warren Park constituency pitting him against “little known political novices”

They said the decision was aimed at reducing him into a “political midget.”

In an interview yesterday, Eng Mudzuri said he was in discussion with party hierarchy to ensure that the election template was adhered to.

“As a vice president I cannot be seen being challenged by junior people unless the idea is to reduce me into a political midget. Besides some of these people do not fit into the election template that we have set as a party. You cannot have a whole vice president going into a ward and subjected to primaries with junior members. I am in the presidium and have been acting president,” said Eng Mudzuri.

He said the challenges in the party were not insurmountable and a solution would be found.

“Nowhere in the world do you see that happening. It is a joke. I hope someone is not playing political games meant to reduce me into a midget,” said Eng Mudzuri.

Mr Chimanikire, who lost to councillor Peter Moyo, described the primary elections as chaotic.

He said he would soon launch an appeal.

“There were several misdemeanors. People who had voted would mingle with those that had not voted and they would swap party cards and ended up voting more than once.

“Besides there was no register because presiding officer refused to use it saying it was shambolic. As a result people who were not party members were allowed to vote because they swapped cards,” said Mr Chimanikire.

Others complained that the issue of seniority was being selectively applied.

They said in Budiriro, sitting MP Mr Costa Machingauta, was protected against councillor, Panganai Charumbira.

When contacted, MDC-T acting national chairperson, Mr Morgan Komichi said those aggrieved with the process should notify the party leadership.

“I have more than 50 appeals across the country and very soon we shall set up an appeals committee and if there is any injustice a re-run will be ordered.

People also ought to understand that seniority is in two parts, seniority in terms of rank and in terms of time spent in the party.

“One might be a national executive member but another person might be in the district but would have joined the party in 1999 at its inception. In that case we say let the people decide. Election template is there just to guide us as a party,” said Mr Komichi.

He said the party had resolved to have Eng Mudzuri in Senate and had been exempted from contesting the constituency.

“We are almost 80 percent complete with primaries in Harare province,” he said.

In Kuwadzana East, party deputy treasurer, Mr Charlton Hwende traded accusations of violence and vote rigging with his rival, Mr Shakespeare Mukoyi.

Mr Hwende accused Mr Mukoyi of unleashing violent party youths, commonly known as “the vanguard” on his supporters.

“The election has since been aborted because of Mukoyi’s violent character and we now wait to hear the way forward from the national election directorate,” said Mr Hwende yesterday.

Mr Mukoyi denied the allegations.

He accused Mr Hwende of trying to impose himself on the constituency. – Chronicle

Shakespeare Mukoyi

MDC-T national deputy youth leader and self-confessed commander of the party’s militia —the Vanguard, Shakespeare Mukoyi, has spilled the beans on the dirty machinations applied by his group to prop up the new leadership takeover of the opposition party following founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s death in February this year.

Mukoyi dropped the bombshell in an interview with NewsDay yesterday following an alleged plot to block him from contesting the Kuwadzana East constituency, which he claimed was given to him by party leader Nelson Chamisa as a token of appreciation.

He claimed there were underhand moves by top party officials to impose deputy national treasurer Charlton Hwende as MDC-T candidate for Kuwadzana East constituency.

The seat was formerly held by Chamisa before his recent elevation to lead the opposition party and contest the upcoming general elections as MDC Alliance presidential candidate.

The MDC-T failed to hold primary elections in Kuwadzana East on Friday after Mukoyi and Hwende’s supporters disrupted the process.

“I feel like our leadership is not sincere and honest. Before the primaries were held, I approached our party president (Chamisa) and had a talk with him concerning that constituency,” Mukoyi said.

“I said to him: ‘God has blessed you to become the president, and I, as a party member resident in Kuwadzana, who has stood with the party through thick and thin, can you bless me to take over from you?’ The president said he has no problem with it and he actually expected that from people who have worked hard for the party.”

But Hwende yesterday refuted Mukoyi’s claims, saying it was not true that Chamisa had “blessed him” with the Kuwadzana East seat.

He also dismissed allegations that the Vanguard had engineered Chamisa’s rise to the party presidency.

MDC-T secretary for elections, Murisi Zwizwai, also dismissed Mukoyi’s utterances, saying: “The position as a party is that everyone is open for a primary election process and there is a template that speaks to that. The template does not even protect the national standing committee members.

“The vice-president himself, Elias Mudzuri, has three people contesting against him, myself as the secretary for elections I am being contested and others. There is no such rule and it’s not in our constitution or in our template. This is a misplaced claim that is meant to play around with the media and politicking.

“We are going to look at the case as a party and come up with the candidate. President Tsvangirai didn’t declare anyone, including Chamisa. He had to go through the party processes to be president. He was appointed by the national council and there is no single person who can say I was anointed.”

Mukoyi, however, said that when Tsvangirai was on his deathbed early this year, the party leadership approached him asking him to engineer Chamisa’s ascendancy at a time other MDC-T co-vice-presidents Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe were also angling to take over the position.

He said he had worked hard for the party since its formation in 1999, concentrating mostly in the Kuwadzana area, adding it was unfair for Hwende, whom he claimed was from Mashonaland West province, to claim he had also been given the greenlight to contest in the same constituency.

“If it is true then, what it means is that the leadership might not be genuine because we are told different things. However, at the same time, we expected that the party will exercise justice in this matter because Kuwadzana East is my area and I rose through the leadership to the national from here,” Mukoyi said.

“During the time when Tsvangirai was on his deathbed, my brother Hwende and other leaders approached me saying the situation was bad and the party needed new leadership.

“They told me that the work that they were about to do had to be done by the youth assembly, especially the Vanguard, which they are now dismissing as thugs today. We fought to bring sanity in the party until we had this hierarchy that we are having today,” the vanguard commander said, in apparent reference to the violent attacks on dissenting voices in Bulawayo and Buhera following Tsvangirai’s death.

“I feel betrayed that they say The Vanguard is bad, yet they are the ones who were behind the operations of The Vanguard. This is bad. Maybe, as leaders they, have their wisdom to say that, but I don’t think that is right.”

Mukoyi alleged that at some point before the latest fallout, Hwende roped him in as deputy national youth leader and Vanguard commander to resolve a leadership crisis in the party’s Chegutu structures.

He, however, declined to disclose the nature of the problems the party experienced in Chegutu.

Hwende rubbished Mukoyi’s statements as false and meant to tarnish the party and its presidential candidate Chamisa’s image.

“That is nonsense and as far as we are concerned, only the national council elected Chamisa to be the president. I am not aware of any other person who did that,” said Hwende, who claimed he had been actively involved in Kuwadzana since 2000 when he was campaign manager for the now late former legislator Learnmore Jongwe and later campaigned for Chamisa in 2003.

“Besides, the party called for applications from aspiring candidates and I submitted my name. The party cannot decide to give a particular seat to anyone just like that, it is not how democracy works. If he has grievances with Chamisa, he must direct them to the office of the president,” Hwende said. – NewsDay

Terence Mukupe

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has come under huge pressure to sack under fire junior minister Terence Mukupe over a litany of controversial actions and statements that he has made in recent weeks, which have caused palpable anger among many Zimbabweans.

It didn’t help matters that Mukupe issued an equally controversial apology yesterday, which only served to inflame emotions further as both ordinary citizens and politicians alike dismissed it as a “half hearted” attempt at best to justify his unacceptable lack of decorum.

Just this past week alone, the MP for Harare East constituency was involved in three not so flattering incidents — including making reckless claims that the military would not accept youthful MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa as the country’s new leader if he were to win the country’s impending national elections.

That ill-conceived statement forced Mnangagwa and his senior aides to publicly rebuke Mukupe. But no sooner had this happened before he provoked yet more anger after he stigmatised people living with HIV/Aids during a chaotic radio debate with former Finance minister Tendai Biti.

Later, Mukupe was also accused of assaulting the wife of a local journalist and “stealing” her mobile phone — ratcheting up the already growing calls for his dismal from the government.

“While due process demands that these allegations be verified, at the very least this man (Mukupe) should be suspended by President Mnangagwa.

“This comes on the back of the exposure of his comments … stating what we all know — namely that having seized power through an illegal coup last November the military aren’t now just going to hand it over on a platter to Nelson Chamisa and the MDC Alliance.

“In one sense, Mukupe is just being honest — although rather foolish, all he has done is confirm what we already know,” former Education minister David Coltart said.

“However there are still those — both citizens and some in the international community — who believe that a leopard can change its spots. Even some seasoned diplomats and ministers of democratic countries repeat the mantra that they expect free and fair elections to be held.

“If President Mnangagwa does not act vigorously to investigate and then dismiss Minister Mukupe — and the others who have spoken treasonously (for that is what refusing to respect the democratic will of the people is) — then he will simply confirm that his own undertakings to hold a free, fair and credible election are just a sham,” Coltart added on social media.

Piers Pigou, a senior consultant for the International Crisis Group, told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that Mukupe was “not fit to remain in office”, warning Mnangagwa further that failure to act on him would send the “wrong message that there is nothing new about the new dispensation”.

“Mnangagwa has an opportunity to demonstrate decisive leadership and Mukupe should be dismissed. There is, however, little evidence of basic notions of political accountability for such irresponsible statements from members of an executive whose leadership is trying hard to demonstrate that it has changed.

“These are highly irresponsible statements and demonstrate that he (Mukupe) is not for and proper for public office. Is this a face the new administration wishes to support?

“For many, Mukupe’s comments also reflect Zanu PF’s DNA, something they have got used to. As such, these utterances are not that surprising,” said.

Vice president of the MDC splinter group led by Thokozani Khupe, Obert Gutu, also said bluntly that Mukupe should “either resign or be sacked” over his comments on anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.

“It’s a total shame for any one, more so a public figure and government minister, to stigmatise people living with HIV.

“Assuming that he has got a sense of responsibility, which doesn’t appear likely from his numerous public gaffes, Mukupe should just proceed to do the honourable thing and immediately resign as a government minister and Member of Parliament.

“If he doesn’t resign voluntarily, then President Mnangagwa should sack him forthwith,” Gutu thundered.

“Surely, if Webster Shamu could be sacked for attempting to rig a party primary election, why should Mukupe remain in government after committing an even more serious and catastrophic transgression? Is Mukupe untouchable and if so, why?” he added.

Mukupe stoked passions further yesterday when he sought to minimise the damage of his actions and recent utterances by issuing a controversial statement “apologising” for his actions — but which many ordinary people said was a crass attempt to justify the very same things which he was trying to distance himself from.

“I feel it is of the utmost importance to apologise and clarify on some statements that have been misinterpreted and in some cases deliberately distorted and misrepresented. First of all I deny categorically that I ever insinuated that the military would take sides in the upcoming hamornised elections.

“In November of last year, the military stood with the people in their cry for freedom, they stood with the leadership of now president ED (Emmerson Dambudzo) Mnangagwa, and now they will stand with the people once again as they help secure our country in the build up to elections.

“I am a passionate supporter of both the president and our highly professional military, and for that I will never apologise,” he said, notwithstanding that his comments on the military were captured on video.

In the video clip that circulated widely on social media, Mukupe stated categorically that the army would not allow the opposition to lead the country.

“How can we say honestly the soldiers took the country, practically snatched it from (former president Robert) Mugabe, to come and hand it over to Chamisa?

“Look at me, I also want to be a president. There is no one who does not want to sit in the (Mercedes) Benz while sirens are sounding all the way, but everything has its time.

“I don’t think that I am mature enough to be given the country to run and all the soldiers in this country salute me saying the commander-in-chief is here,” Mukupe is shown saying in the damning video evidence.

Last week the government described Mukupe’s statements on the army as “reckless and unlawful”.

“Consequently any pronouncements which have the effect of undermining the supreme law of the land and the authority of the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Force, or of suggesting that our well-respected security organs will act in partisan manner in relation to the country’s politics, apart from being unauthorised, are unlawful, reckless, improper, uncalled for and thus totally condemnable,” acting Information minister Simon Khaya Moyo said.

Mukupe also attempted to apologise in his statement over the remarks which he made during his interview with Biti, although he began that part with a justification.

“Though I was abused and insulted by the tone and content of Mr. Biti’s interview, I should not have responded in such a way, and I apologise for the offence I have caused for the remarks I made pertaining to ARVs,” he said.

Mukupe has attracted so much negative attention in the last few weeks.

Last month, he briefly snatched a ballot box during the Zanu PF primary elections in Harare East constituency, amid widespread complaints that he had manipulated cell registers.

Mukupe had also in full view of journalists and police assaulted his rival’s driver before speeding away — causing pandemonium.

Mukupe’s rival in those primary polls, Mavis Gumbo, was forced to flee the scene in fear, at which point many people also left the polling station.

The temperamental Mukupe was also fined by police this year after he admitted to assaulting a finance director in his ministry over travel allowances.

Patricia Scotland

COMMONWEALTH secretary-general Ms Patricia Scotland will “imminently” dispatch a high-level delegation to Zimbabwe to assess the country’s eligibility to rejoin the group following the country’s expression of interest to return to the 54-member bloc.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa wrote to Ms Scotland on 9 May expressing Zimbabwe’s willingness to end its 15-year hiatus from the group.

The Commonwealth has now initiated a four-step process to assess whether the southern African nation meets the requisite membership criteria or not.

Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 as the bilateral dispute between Harare and London reached breaking point over the land reform exercise.

Former President Mr Robert Mugabe announced Zimbabwe’s withdrawal from the group after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Abuja, Nigeria, in December 2002 decided to suspend Zimbabwe indefinitely from the grouping of former British colonies.

Commonwealth director of media and public relations Professor Barnie Choudhury told our Harare Bureau in e-mailed responses last week that the process of reintegrating Zimbabwe has already begun.

“Commonwealth heads of government agreed to a new set of membership criteria at their Kampala CHOGM in 2007, which is a four-step process.

“The first step, which is the secretary-general’s informal assessment, is now in progress, and an assessment mission to Zimbabwe is expected to be undertaken imminently.

“The timeline for the remainder of the membership process will be subject to the assessment mission findings, and if necessary, the conclusions of any other informal assessment measures the secretary-general may wish to undertake.

“The second step of the process, that is consultations with member governments, will commence once these findings have been shared with them,” he said.

It is believed that following the assessment mission, a report will be produced before the findings are shared with member states.

Consultations will be made before a decision is formally made at the next Chogm meeting slated for Rwanda in 2020.

Already, the British government has thrown its weight behind Zimbabwe’s membership bid.

In a statement soon after meeting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Dr Subusiso Moyo in London on 20 April — on the sidelines of the recent Chogm meeting — British foreign secretary Mr Boris Johnson said “the UK would strongly support Zimbabwe’s re-entry”.

To re-join, Zimbabwe must demonstrate that it complies with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter, including democracy and rule of law, plus protection of human rights such as freedom of expression.

Zimbabwe has also invited the Commonwealth to observe its forthcoming elections in July.

The secretariat is presently mobilising a team of observers for the polls and their assessment will form part of the secretary-general’s informal assessment.

Former President Robert Mugabe

Former President Robert Mugabe today once again failed to pitch up for hearing before the Mines and Energy Parliamentary Portfolio committee to give evidence on the alleged missing $15 billion diamonds.

Mugabe was initially supposed to appear before the committee on Wednesday last week but was asked to turn up today at 2pm.

Mliswa said Mugabe had probably failed to turn up at 9am last week because it was too early. He asked him to come at 2pm today, but once again he did not turn up.

Mugabe has now been asked to appear before the committee on 11 June.

The former President who was forced to step down in November has complained that he is being harassed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

This insistence on calling him to testify when plenty of evidence has been provided that there is no way the country could have lost $15 billion worth of diamonds worth seems by all intents and purposes to be harassment.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa

ZANU PF leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa has warned his wife, First Lady Auxillia, against interfering with his official duties, saying she should not be like her predecessor Grace Mugabe, who had usurped Executive powers from her “frail and ageing” husband, Robert.

Addressing delegates at the annual Mushamukadzi Charitable Foundation fundraising dinner organised by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s wife, Marry, for cancer awareness projects at Borrowdale Brooke Golf Course in Harare on Saturday, Mnangagwa urged Auxillia and Marry to stay off from their husbands’ duties.

“Amai Chiwenga, I know you are the one behind who tasked me to talk. Just a few months ago, we had interfaces (rallies), where both the (former) First Lady and the President were talking. We don’t want that to be repeated. Let it be a platform which is mine and my vice-presidents only and not for the ladies. It’s wrong,” he said, amid wild cheers from the delegates.

On numerous occasions, Grace was accused of conflating the institution of marriage with that of the presidency.

Known for her unrestricted and stinging attacks, especially at public forums, Grace accused many Zanu PF leaders from politburo members, war veterans, the military bosses, her own colleagues in the women’s league and Mugabe’s close allies of plotting against her 94-year-old husband.

Critics argue Grace’s insatiable desire to meddle in Mugabe’s duties and her penchant for publicly attacking senior party and government officials catalysed the former leader’s removal from power last November.

Mugabe was removed from power in November last year at the height of the interface rallies, where he and his wife took turns to attack their political enemies in Zanu PF, including Mnangagwa.

Besides addressing her own set of rallies, Grace usually became the centre of attraction at Zanu PF gatherings, even those addressed by her husband.

For that, she earned herself the moniker, Dr Stop It!

During his address, Mnangagwa left guests in stitches when he claimed that he was an accomplished border jumper, following his recent sacking from government while he was Mugabe’s deputy and then ran into self-exile through an illegal crossing point.

“When Vice-President Chiwenga was introducing me, he left something very important. In 1962, in December, I border-jumped in Tanganyika (now Tanzania); in 1964, I border-jumped from Zambia into Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and in 2017, I border-jumped to Mozambique. I am an accomplished border jumper,” he said.

About $180 000 was raised at the event, with proceeds set to be channelled towards cancer awareness projects.

Mnangagwa also hailed the charity work for bringing up issues that might not be exposed on the political arena.

“Serving people, putting yourselves to the service of people is saving God. Many of us delight in serving ourselves. Many of us delight that our own families are comfortable, but the few among us, as narrated here by Amai Chiwenga and the First Lady (Auxillia), they are putting their time to service our nation and this is a service to God, and we must applaud the work that they do,” he said.

“The difficulties our people face in rural areas, some in urban areas, some of these things are not exposed to us in political arena, but they are there. People are suffering in the country side, in communities and foundations of this nature are able to reach them, for purposes of assisting, mobilising assistance and resources to assist those who are suffering.”

Mnangagwa said in the political arena, they assemble people to persuade them to vote, as they hardly have the opportunity of assembling people in order to address their health.

“Indeed, we have institutions which deal with primary health and so on, but these foundations are specifically directed to assist those in our societies who are unable to help themselves, they have no access to healthy,” he said.

“I would like, therefore, to appeal to captains of industry and commerce here and our citizens to find ourselves on the side of helping and on the side of assisting those who are not as advantaged as ourselves in our various calling and endeavours in our society.” – NewsDay

A woman walks past Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa's billboard on a highway in Harare, Zimbabwe, 20 May 2018.

It is up to the MDC Alliance to make it difficult for ZANU-PF to rig the upcoming elections. This can be achieved by uniting the opposition.

Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold harmonised elections between 21 July and 21 August. If all goes well, and the military-led government does not take forever to release election results as was the case in 2008, the country will have a new administration by September.

Will this new administration be a reconfigured Zimbabwe African People’s Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), or one made up of an opposition alliance led by the Movement for Democratic Change – Morgan Tsvangirai’s (MDC-T) Nelson Chamisa?

The answer to this question depends on two interrelated issues. If opposition parties succeed in setting up a solid grand coalition before the plebiscite, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) organises free, fair and credible elections, then opposition will win. The inverse also holds true.

In November 2017, long serving leader, then President Robert Mugabe, was forced to retire through a military-led coup, and was replaced by his protégé, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe’s forced retirement resulted in a temporary resolution of succession issues within the ruling party, but did not resolve problems of factionalism.

In mid-February, Zimbabwe witnessed the demise of Morgan Tsvangirai, the long serving leader of the MDC-T. His death brought to the fore succession problems within his opposition party.

Consequently, one of the party’s three vice-presidents, Nelson Chamisa, quickly took control of the party in what some commentators have described as a “coup”.

These two events present serious challenges for opposition politics in Zimbabwe. I will discuss these challenges after a short theoretical detour, which is necessary to locate Zimbabwean opposition parties’ value proposition.

The exercise of opposition politics is about deepening and strengthening democracy. It also affords citizens the space to actively participate in their own governance.

If indeed democracy is about opening up closed political systems, then opposition parties are avenues by which participation and inclusivity can be achieved. Above all, opposition parties should seek to provide an alternative hegemony to that which is provided by the incumbent.

This requires of opposition parties to model themselves as politically, economically, socially and morally superior than the incumbent.

Many countries in Southern Africa have been, and still are led by nationalist parties that won them independence. Such arrangements, no doubt have provided stability, but most have not resulted in democracy.

Nationalist parties by their nature were created to be liberation movements, not democratic organisations. Being liberation leaders, Mugabe and Mnangagwa have their background rooted in the military, and that linkage can never be severed.

Their continued incestuous relationship with military commanders, and the way ZANU-PF succession problems were dealt with in November 2017 attests to the difficulty of transforming liberation movements into democratic parties.

This presents challenges for future political developments in Zimbabwe. Most notable is that it impedes the organic growth of strong opposition parties with a possibility of winning state power through constitutional means.

Opposition is forced to develop in an asphyxiated environment where it is overwhelmed by coercion and suppression, and is always characterised not only as mere political opponents, but also as enemies of the state.

Because of this asphyxiated development, opposition parties that survive state coercion tend to impose an extra burden on themselves – an adamant refusal to learn how to conduct opposition politics in an authoritarian environment.

They do not only cease to proliferate despite congruous ideologies, they also fractionalise, dividing the same support base. Many times they programme at cross-purpose, literally negating each other’s existence, simultaneously benefiting the incumbent.

The section below shows how this arrogant refusal to learn has cost opposition politics in Zimbabwe.

In 1999, many civil society groups taking part in a working people’s convention concluded that to achieve democratic governance, there was need to form a strong opposition party capable of challenging ZANU-PF nationally.

As a result the MDC was formed in September 1999. In parliamentary elections held in mid-2000, less than a year after its formation, the MDC won 57 of the contested 120 seats, while the ruling party won 62 seats.

For the ruling party this was a massive loss of support, while for the new opposition, it was a huge endorsement, moving from nothing to 57 seats overnight.

In the 2002 presidential elections, the opposition candidate scored 42% against the ruling party’s 56%.

Towards the end of 2005, the MDC split into two factions. Several reasons were advanced for the split.

Dominant in the public discourse was the question of whether or not to participate in the November 2005 senatorial elections that Mugabe had just announced, probably with the intention of instigating friction within the opposition.

However, the senatorial issue was not the underlying reason for the MDC split. It was just but a spark that ignited the fire.

To understand this split, one must look at the dynamics of the party’s foundation. It had been formed less than a year before an election, which would have raised false hopes for some of its founding members.

The party was also a pastiche of political ideologies – leftists and liberals, employers and trade unions, city workers, farm workers and landowners over and above ethnic and class fault lines that it harboured.

By 2005, the party had also started to exhibit a predisposition towards violence aimed at fellow comrades, which was contrary to the party’s founding principles.  This violence could have been motivated by fatigue associated with losing subsequent elections.

The non-violent democratic struggle that the MDC had adopted at formation, what one can liken to Antonio Gramsci’s war of position, (as juxtaposed with war of manoeuvre) was such that patience and discipline were indispensable.

A war of position is a non-violent, protracted and uneven ideological process targeted at dislodging dominant ruling groups. Such a struggle is susceptible to defeats, wins and reversals. It requires an “unprecedented concentration of hegemony” within the opposition to guard against disintegration.

It is usually long and drawn out, thus those who engage in it must be prepared for that eventuality. This was not the case with leaders who caused the 2005 and subsequent splits.

In the 2008 election, one faction of the MDC obtained 100 seats, while the other got 10 seats. ZANU-PF won 99 seats. For the presidential elections, ZANU-PF won 43.2%, MDC-T won 47.9% while the other MDC’s backed candidate won 8.3%.

A combined tally for the opposition had they not split the vote would have been 56.2%, well above the required 50% + 1 vote.

This means that had the opposition been strategic and disciplined, they could have won state power in 2008. However, such a conclusion is based on a risky assumption that elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair. This may not be the case, but dynamics associated with this proposition warrant a separate discussion altogether.

The hung result of 2008 led to a negotiated government of national unity (GNU). The GNU persisted for just over four years, and culminated in the 2013 elections. Not long after losing these elections, contradictions began to manifest themselves within the MDC-T.

In 2014, the party split again, with many senior party members walking out to form a platform that purported to be concerned about renewing the MDC-T. Before long, this renewal platform split to form many other parties.

After the 2014 split, Morgan Tsvangirai wrote to the Speaker of Parliament recalling 18 members of parliament on the grounds that they were no longer MDC-T members. However, when by-elections were conducted to fill these constituencies, major opposition parties did not participate, causing all 18 seats to be taken by ZANU-PF.

This allowed ZANU-PF to find its way back into constituencies that had been the reserve of opposition parties. The pitfalls of allowing ZANU-PF to reclaim dominance in the legislative arm of the state should have been learnt in 2005 when the ruling party won almost all senatorial seats after the official opposition boycotted the elections.

There is no doubt that Members of Parliament that Tsvangirai vindictively recalled would have benefited opposition politics had they stayed in Parliament, and could have been a solid ground to build alliances for future elections, to which I now turn.

Since 2016, major Zimbabwean opposition parties began to see the need to work together in a quest to unseat ZANU-PF. Subsequently, two coalitions have emerged – the Coalition of Democrats (CODE) and the MDC Alliance.

The latter, which is far more influential, is made up of seven political parties (all male-led). This new MDC Alliance has been able to draw huge crowds in their recent rallies. However, in forming this alliance, the MDC-T sacrificed its long serving deputy president, Thokozani Khupe, and her not so insignificant group of loyalists.

Khupe’s claims, that in the absence of Tsvangirai she is the legitimate leader of the party are not entirely without merit. She now stands fired from the party, but has responded by forming her own parallel structures, in essence creating another split, the umpteenth for the eighteen year old party.

The “special congress” that Khupe held in Bulawayo in mid-April not only consummates that split, but also gives ZANU-PF a possible avenue to rig elections. But even worse, these new contradictions have motivated the Chamisa led MDC-T to vindictively recall Khupe and her group from parliament, prematurely shutting avenues for any further negotiations.

Beside the two alliances mentioned earlier, there are over hundred other political parties recently formed, some of which exist only by name. It would seem their electoral prospects can almost be predicted with certainty.

They have not set up structures that are capable of winning them any election. However, the impact of their participation as individual entities is what cannot be ascertained. There is no doubt that they will once again split the opposition vote.

In order to dislodge a civilian-cum-military government, opposition parties need to be creative, coherent and ideologically solid. Since Tsvangirai’s demise, the MDC Alliance’s electoral mantra has been about “generational consensus”. This is a sexy sounding idea, however, it still needs to be unpacked.

What ideological content does it hold? How does it locate the MDC Alliance as different from ZANU-PF politics? How will this idea repel the sense of entitlement that has historically defined ZANU-PF’s rule, as well as MDC’s sense of entitlement to opposition politics, as exemplified by its tendency to recall other opposition members from parliament?

Many people, including ZANU-PF members have bought into the idea of giving leadership opportunities to younger generations. Many young parliamentary candidates from all political parties have shown interest in the 2018 election. Thus, the idea of generational consensus without ideological grounding does not offer anything different from what ZANU-PF can offer.

If it is to be of value in an electoral manifesto, generational consensus must offer more than just one’s date of birth. It has to offer the electorate a choice of leaders who are more than just beneficiaries in an accident of time. The idea must be unpacked so that it gives clarity on what things ought to be in the short to medium term, and how leadership links to such changes.

The MDC Alliance must take advantage of the time left to develop and popularise its “Generational Consensus Manifesto”, and show how it speaks to serious ideological issues necessary for a new government in waiting.

It is up to the MDC Alliance to make it difficult for ZANU-PF to rig the elections. This can be achieved by uniting the opposition. The time left should be used to bring more opposition parties on board, especially those led by women.

Secondly, during the voting process, the opposition alliance must make it its priority to track each and every vote cast. This can be achieved by deploying polling agents at every polling station, then creating a parallel tabulating system preferably located outside the country.

A direct contact through use of technology between polling centre agents and officers manning the external tabulating centre will give instant results that can then be compared with those consolidated by the ZEC. This will amount to safeguarding its votes, and maybe constitute a highway to reaching state house.

By Zenzo Moyo for the Daily Maverick.