LOCAL think tank, Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) has raised fears of an impending fall-out among opposition political parties firming up to form the much envisaged grand coalition in attempts to unseat President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF in 2018.
Zimbabwe’s fragmented political opposition has failed to outpoll Zanu PF in the country’s successive elections since 1980.
While Zanu PF has enjoyed political dominance for much of the time, a narrow win by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai over the incumbent in 2008 was not enough to earn him the required 50 percent plus majority which could have automatically ushered him into state house and ensured he avoided what later turned out to be a violent run-off poll which saw President Mugabe retain his rule.
However, the failure to unseat Mugabe during the first round of the vote was blamed on an opposition vote which the former trade unionist had shared with former finance minister Simba Makoni.
With the 2008 experience still fresh in their minds, opposition parties have since shown interest to form a single formidable force with the closest attempts towards a coalition so far being their National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA).
NERA is a platform which unites over 13 political parties in the country with Joice Mujuru’s ZimPF and the MDC-T being part of the arrangement.
The six party Coalition for Democrats (CODE) which is currently chaired by Makoni, now leader of Mavambo/Kusile, is also another coalition attempt.
However, with all these efforts in place, the ZDI still feels lack of trust among the political leaders could torpedo the envisaged opposition alliance.
“Most opposition parties, if not all, emerge as a result of factionalism, lack of trust and elite discohesion within the opposition.
“This has been a recurring phenomenon in post independence opposition in Zimbabwe,” says ZDI in a research titled “Opposition cohesion, the missing link in authoritarian discohesion in Zimbabwe”.
ZDI goes on to trace the main opposition party, MDC-T’s 17 year old history which has been dominated by split, saying this could likely affect attempts by these parties to unite.
“For instance, the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai acrimoniously split in October 2005 resulting in the emergence of MDC led by Welshman Ncube. The MDC further split in 2014 resulting in the emergence of the Peoples’ Democratic Party led by Tendai Biti. The party (PDP) further split leading to the formation of Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe led by Elton Mangoma,” says ZDI.
The report also looks at the Zimbabwe People First history adding that some of the politicians’ controversial past while in Zanu PF could further dampen the coalition spirit.
“On the other hand, Zimbabwe People First led by Joice Mujuru is as a result of expulsions from Zanu PF. In the current context, also at the heart of lack of trust is the historical baggage associated with opposition parties such as Zimbabwe People First.
“Emerging from Zanu PF officials mainly expelled during the 2014 congress, joining forces with such elements of the nationalist guard and with complicated and distrustful past may be deemed oxymoronic and sacrificing ideals, as Zanu PF has been at the centre of allegations of human rights abuses, political violence, economic mismanagement and other heinous acts against the people of Zimbabwe,” said the Pedzisai Ruhanya led group.
“Some of the officials associated with ZimPF allegedly committed callous crimes such as rape, for instance, the revelations that Agrippa Mutambara raped Judith Todd and the involvement of Didymus Mutasa in the abduction of Jestina Mukoko casts aspersions towards forging coalitions with such elements,” added the group.