Thursday, 8 April 2021

CHANGE STRATEGY OR FACE ANNIHILATION : CHAMISA'S MDC TOLD

POLITICAL analysts have once again warned that the opposition risks being annihilated by Zanu PF ahead of the 2023 polls, unless they change strategy and pursue national dialogue.

In addition, the analysts also told the Daily News yesterday that MDC Alliance leaders needed to ditch their “student politics” and stop dithering about whether to stick with the current name or come up with a completely new outfit.

This comes as the myriad troubles stalking the coalition on multiple fronts are escalating — including the threat of the pact losing its name to the main opposition MDC that is now led by Douglas Mwonzora.

It also comes as political tension is rising again in the country, amid fresh fears of violence after the recent conviction and Tuesday’s subsequent jailing of MDC Alliance activist Makomborero Haruzivishe.

Amid all this, political analysts told the Daily News yesterday that Nelson Chamisa and his allies also needed to pursue national dialogue with more vigour, rather than attempt to take the government head-on.

Renowned Professor of World Politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Stephen Chan, said Chamisa needed to “reinvent both himself and his party” and pursue dialogue to enhance his chances in the country’s fast-approaching next elections.

“You cannot confront Zanu PF and at the same time confront the other MDC, complaining that you are the real MDC … a situation of circular futility arises.

“He (Chamisa) needs to rebrand his party, ensure that there is national dialogue along the issue of reforms by engaging Zanu PF without necessarily being combative.

“I hate to say this, especially as many people think I am overly critical of him but, in fact, I extend my admiration to him, for he has great courage.

“However, it seems he uses exactly the same confrontational strategy that he used as a student leader,” Chan told the Daily News.

Instead of being confrontational towards Zanu PF, he added, Chamisa needed to concentrate more on building his party in preparation for the 2023 elections.

“Above all he needs to concentrate on fighting for by-elections for those seats lost by his followers and setting out alternative detailed policies, not just visions and sound-bites.

“And, in doing so, be seen very publicly to be engaging with technocratic figures in the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and in the Chinese banks, portraying himself as a leader-in-waiting.

“He must start re-assembling his people into a nationally-organised force to contest the next general elections, establishing a model of smooth party organisation and transparency that everyone can see as an example to all others,” Chan further told the Daily News.

Respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, weighed in saying it would be foolhardy for Chamisa to expect that Zanu PF would agree to any reforms, as some of his advisers were arguing, when he continued to dispute President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy.

“The MDC Alliance leader should search for a viable solution through non-combative means given the nature of the ruling party. “Confrontational battles are its area of specialisation and one does not walk into a lion’s den and expect to come out unscathed.

“There is a need for a serious paradigm shift in the opposition’s approach because they cannot afford to be blind to the reality of a vicious response to confrontation by Zanu PF,” Masunungure told the Daily News.

“If he hopes for an all-inclusive dialogue, it is only possible if he (Chamisa) discards the strategy of confrontation and uses persuasion by dropping the legitimacy demand as a sign of goodwill.

“He should put to the fore issues that affect the people — be they political, economic or social. That way, he stands a better chance of persuading Zanu PF to dialogue outside Polad, which is not really a good platform,” Masunungure said further.

“This would give him room to ensure that issues such as electoral reforms are on the table because, in any case, whether Mnangagwa is illegitimate or not, he has already served half of his term.

“He must drop the legitimacy demands because Zanu PF’s position is clearly rigid and the current approach is not yielding any dividends,” he added. 

Meanwhile, former Zanu PF youth leader, Godfrey Tsenengamu, has also exhorted the country’s political leaders to ditch politics of hate and unite for their own good and that of the nation.

“We need to change the way we do our politics. We may differ, but there is a need to find a common ground and move forward.

“I do not condone lawlessness, but politics of hate is not good. Let us open a new chapter so that we can end toxic politics.

“Let us unite as Zimbabweans and solve our differences peacefully. Political problems can be solved politically without violence,” Tsenengamu said.

Reacting to several arrests of opposition figures, Tsenengamu also called on Zanu PF supporters to condemn arbitrary arrests of activists — the same way they condemned the persecution of Mnangagwa’s supporters during the reign of the late former president Robert Mugabe.

“During Mugabe’s time many people who are in the current Zanu PF were not happy with the move to arrest Mnangagwa and (vice president Constantino) Chiwenga, and now they are happy with the current arrests.

“This is not good for the country. We must learn to sit down and solve our issues without attracting the attention of outsiders.

“It’s high time we end the politics of bitterness. Let’s find ways to solve our issues together as Zimbabweans,” Tsenengamu also said.This comes as political tension is rising again in the country, amid fresh fears of violence as a reeling MDC Alliance feels the pressure on new fronts, including the threat of the coalition losing its name.

On Tuesday, police had to be called in to disperse agitated alliance supporters in Harare, after Haruzivishe was sentenced to an effective 14 months in prison for inciting public violence.

The sentencing witnessed rowdy scenes involving MDC Alliance supporters who had thronged Harare Magistrates’ Court in solidarity with the youthful activist — leading to clashes that left one freelance photojournalist, Sam Takawira, injured after he was caught up in the melee as he was filming proceedings. Daily News

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