By Tafadzwa Muranganwa.
A RECENT survey by Afrobarometer that president Robert Mugabe will romp to victory if elections were to be held now have been received with mixed feelings by many, but to ignore such findings could be suicidal for the opposition.
According to ‘The Herald’ newspaper, the Round 7 Survey Results of the think tank – from fieldwork conducted between January 28 and February 10 this year – reveal that majority Zimbabweans (about 56%) approve of the way President Robert Mugabe has discharged his duties over the past 12 months.
In its trend analysis, Afrobarometer found that MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s popularity continues to plummet from a high of 57% in 2009 to 16% this year whereas 38% of respondents said they would vote for President Mugabe compared to 29% in 2005.
The paper says Afrobarometer asked people who they would vote for if presidential elections were to be held immediately, and the majority picked President Mugabe.
But what are the opposition political parties’ inadequacies that would make them fare badly in the next elections where Zanu PF â€˜s then 94-year-old candidate, Mugabe, is expected to contest though his age alone could be used against him; but that alone is insignificant given the fact that Zanu PF has already hit the campaign trail while the opposition’s fixation is on a grand coalition and electoral reforms.
Zanu PF Hits the Ground Running
Current countrywide presidential youth interface rallies are a clear testimony that the ruling party is already in election mode, and that it is already strategizing. Zanu PF knows that youths constitute the majority and dangling a carrot to them would win them the hearts and minds of the young. Many youths who are currently reeling from unemployment are being promised massive empowerment projects that would enable them to extricate themselves from poverty.
There has been a great turn-out at these interface rallies, and this could have been aided by Zanu PF’s calculation of riding on Zim Dancehall, now popular culture in the country. Zim Dancehall, which has won many a heart of youths, among them those that could constitute first time voters next year.
While many might dismiss these Zanu PF antics, it should be noted that this may actually work in its favour. One young man, come next year, is likely going to vote for President Mugabe for the simple reason that he gave him the opportunity to see aka Soul Jah Love ‘Chibaba’ and ‘Seh Calaz’ performing; it may sound absurd but the crux of the matter is that these first time voters have never been convinced by the opposition on why there is the need to vote out the ruling party from power.
Zanu PF has already pooled resources towards its mass mobilisation drive, and the message has been clear that they need the numbers and would address the grievances of party members who are facing disciplinary issues fairly.
A read on this would be useful-http://www.herald.co.zw/zanu-pf-gears-for-2018-set-to-deploy-politburo-members.
The country’s economy is now largely informal, and the regime is already coming up with various programmes that are set to benefit many across sectors.
Killer Zivhu, who is a self-confessed Zanu PF supporter and is currently president of Cross Border Traders Association, has already facilitated a $15 million loan facility from the RBZ which is expected to benefit thousands of cross border traders.
Command Agriculture, on the other hand, has taken the country by storm thanks to the State media’s overdrive on it.
Opposition’s Grand Coalition Strategy a Big Step but…
While opposition parties and its supporters conceive that a coalition of all most opposition parties could work in their favour as evidenced in the 2008 elections where, if Simba had joined hands with the former premier Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, the country would have seen a new government. However, it is the haggling on to who and what the coalition should entail that is already confusing the electorate. Reports have been awash in local daily papers where opposition leaders like Joice Mujuru have tore into Tsvangirai, who is widely tipped and endorsed to lead the coalition.
The recent unveiling by Tendai Biti of PDP’s House of Assembly candidates also casts doubt on whether the grand coalition may see the light of day.
Further fragmentation of the opposition is evident in current alliances such as represented by the National Electoral Reform Agenda(Nera), where the biggest opposition MDC-T and other opposition political parties are under, CODE (Coalition of Democrats), which has Tendai Biti’s party ,among other opposition political parties.
While all these alliances are for electoral reforms, they differ on how this should be executed, thus derailing grand coalition efforts.
Demand for Electoral Reforms
Elections have been a contentious issue in Zimbabwe, and the opposition has welcomed the introduction of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system to increase both transparency and accountability. However, Zimbabwe’s the elections body, Zec, is now reeling under pressure with regards implementation of the BVR system.
First, the opposition has raised ire with who should purchase the BVR kits as it had wanted the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to take over the process, a demand that was not in tandem with Zimbabwe’s current Constitution which the opposition had resoundingly voted for in the 2012 referendum.
The opposition was also irked by the tendering process on who should supply the BVR kits as it had initially objected to the Chinese company winning the tender, and it only took the intervention of the former prime minister, Tsvangirai, to restore confidence in the whole process as not having been manipulated.
Zec has on numerous occasions held meetings with opposition political forces to listen to their views but it seems the latter demands are not being met. With all these litany of allegations being levelled against the electoral body, it is tantamount to make would-be voters lose confidence in the whole exercise – something which could have detrimental consequences for the opposition.
Inept Mobilisation by Opposition
Mass mobilisation of potential voters has largely been ignored by the opposition. This, though, might be attributed to a lack of resources as the donor purse has shrunk. However, there has been less effort by the opposition to use any means necessary to ensure citizens are appraised on their rights, including electoral processes.
Zimbabwe is ‘burning’ owing to government’s bloated cabinet, unnecessary foreign trips, illicit financial dealings, bad stewardship, among others, and so opposition forces have every reason to blame all these on the resultant levels of impoverishment, unemployment, a lack of access to affordable medical care – the list is endless – but opposition don’t seem to be vigorous about it as all among them is now about power.
Some opposition parties are now caught up in the social media frenzy, and feel satisfied that they are reaching out to the masses judging on their presence on various social media platforms.
But believing in the new media when internet penetration here is still low is a fallacy.
Civic organisations that could also be handy in imparting necessary knowledge to the voter community have been found lagging as they tend to be elitist. They mostly hold seminars and workshops in hotels, including airing programmes on radio in English and not vernacular when they are supposed to reach out to the grassroots, and communicating in a language the rural folks would easily understand since they constitute the largest voter population.
It should be noted that while rigging has been raised as a concern, the opposition inadequacies on mass mobilisation cannot be ruled out.
Jacob Ngarivhume, who is current president of Transform Zimbabwe who recently signed a MoU with Tsvangirai, said while the clamouring for electoral reforms and a grand coalition is fundamental, the opposition should be wary of superseding other processes that would usher in a new dispensation.
Copyright Â©www.thesolutionstower.com , 2017 All Rights Reserved. The Solutions Tower Article may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission