Monday, 14 January 2013

The possibility of a united opposition for Zimbabwe’s 2013 elections

By David Hwangwa

The biggest let down for Zimbabwe in the 2008 elections was the failure by the opposition parties to stage a united front against President Robert Mugabe. The factionalism that rocked the MDC family and their failure to resolve their differences then was their downfall. That split in votes cost them dearly, coupled with the failure to rope in Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn. If there is anything that can be learnt from Zimbabwe’s violent 2008 elections is that Mugabe can only be defeated by a united front.
The stats on the ground will also favour a united front by the MDC factions. The recent poll by the Freedom House organisation can only verify this.
MDC-T leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is slowly losing ground to Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and his bed-hopping scandals have only led to his poll stats falling. It is no tale that MDC-T and Prof.

Welshman Ncube’s MDC are the biggest threat to Mugabe and it is only through their merger that we can talk of a win for them. It was welcoming news recently when the MDC-T secretary general and Finance Minister was quoted as saying that unification between the two warring factions cannot be totally written off.
An election pact between Tsvangirai and Ncube could be the catalyst to ending ZANU-PF’s dominance. Prof. Welshman Ncube has done a lot of ground work in Bulawayo and the whole of Matebeleland making his party a major player there. Whilst Tsvangirai might have dismissed Ncube’s ambitions saying that he is only concentrating in Matebeleland, the truth of the matter is that Tsvangirai is afraid that the MDC-T might lose some of their constituencies there to Prof. Ncube. Professor Welshman Ncube is no novice when it comes to politics and no-one can blame him for channeling most of his resources to Matebeleland. That is his home and that is comfort zone. If he is to take Matebeleland then he could be a major player in the next government, possibly another monster in the form of a unity-coalition government.
Going to Matebeleland, to Bulawayo you can see just how much he has done there. The MDC green flags and flyers are everywhere. He is donating bicycles and cattle and right about everything, nicely buttering the people. Whatever he is doing, whether you can call it vote-buying or any term you wish, it is working. ZANU-PF gives farm inputs based on party-cards and we are all used to that now and we cannot blame Prof. Welshman Ncube.
Tsvangirai is very much aware of what the green MDC has done and he is wary of losing ground in Matebeleland. The MDC-T is being hit from all corners. The poll figures are low, ZANU-PF is gaining ground and Welshman Ncube is hitting him hard from Matebeleland and his only chance of ever upsetting president Mugabe is through an election pact with some of the other opposition parties.
There was talk of a possible pact between MDC-T and Simba Makoni, which could be a game changer if we are to take note of the 8% Simba got in 2008 which potentially cost the MDC-T.
Yes a pact between the MDC-T and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn is a positive move but is it enough? There is a great need to also rope in Welshman Ncube too. Whilst point men in both MDC-T and MDC in the form of Tendai Biti and Senator David Coltart have come out in support of an election pact, their superiors are throwing fists everywhere. Both Tsvangirai and Welshman are criticizing each other whenever they are given a chance. This puts further gloom on a possible pact. Welshman Ncube can do without a pact if he is only after consolidating Matebeleland and he can go to bed with whoever comes to him for a coalition but for Tsvangirai, it could be his last straw.
The MDC-T preaches democracy and change of leadership at regular intervals and if Tsvangirai loses next year then calls for a change in leadership will only get louder. He might be blinded coming in public calling Welshman a “village” politician but the truth is that Tsvangirai needs this village-man called Welshman.
If they are to kiss and make up the biggest stumbling block that could kill the chances of the election pact is on fielding candidates. Both men would like to field candidates in all the constituencies and I do not see Welshman Ncube settling for a deal where he will be forced to settle for less. He might budge in some other provinces but in his home region of Matebeleland he will tell Tsvangirai no to his face.
The biggest pact that could usher the change the MDC family has been promising the people since 2000 can only come through if these two MDC factions sit down and put their differences aside for the good of their people. Their big egos could cost them, particularly Tsvangirai because he is the one who stands to lose the most. He is the one who needs to re-affirm the people that indeed he is capable. He needs to let go his ego because his confidence ratings amongst the people and even some of his backers from abroad, is at an all-time low. He needs to surround himself with people that can take him forward because if he is to lose the next elections, then it could be game over for him after so much promise and struggle.

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