Compromised and Compromising Politicians: The tragedy of opposition politics in Zimbabwe

7 Jun

Since the 2013 July ZANU PF victory or theft or whatever you want to call it, opposition political parties in Zimbabwe have been in sixes and nines – not too sure how to respond to the loss. Calls were made to annul the vote because reportedly Nikuv had secured the victory for the wily Robert Mugabe. Most in the opposition MDC T went on to blame Morgan Tsvangirai for his lack of strategy during the election. Others have recently reportedly called for a Transitional Authority to run a caretaker government leading to new elections and a revival of the ailing economy. Unfortunately, the much sought after silver bullet to heal Zimbabwe from the pains of the ailing economy and democratic deficit will not and cannot be found in the proposed Transitional Authority. This proposition is a fallacy based on an arrogant and patronizing assumption that people like Tendai Biti hold the keys to the final solution because in my view they are too compromised by association and conduct which leads them to make serious compromises detrimental to the common Zimbabwean wananchi.

First and foremost – some evident truths are there for everyone to see. The government is broke, there is no money to pay for essential services, and industries continue to shut down. This cannot be news anymore, and so the so called wise men from the opposition should not continue breaking such information and behaving as if they have just discovered a new planet. Zimbabweans are not stupid – they know what’s going on.

The new calls for a Transitional Authority in my view would have been well meaning if Zimbabwe were in a different scenario. Post war situation or others of that nature. ZANU PF won the election rightly or wrongly last July and the nation must move on. The idea of wanting to keep the nation in a perpetual electioneering mode is unacceptable. The situation requires different stakeholders to now work towards resolving some of the challenges the nation is facing. Of course it is never going to be easy to work with ZANU PF. However, if any electioneering is going to be done, let it be done at party political level to streamline opposition party strategies. Let it be towards electoral law reforms, alternative policies, national dialogue(s) etc. and not any form of Transitional Authority. The opposition was given a 5 year chance to help the country transit from a state of paralysis to a stable one. They must be commended for pulling Zimbabwe out of the mud but we all know that such a type of government will be difficult to manage in the Zimbabwean context as long as ZANU PF holds executive powers through the office of the President.

People must now start to learn to disabuse of themselves of the fallacy that ZANU PF does not have supporters and they out rightly stole the election in 2013. ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe have supporters who genuinely voted for them in 2013. There are Zimbabweans who believe in ZANU PF’s policies of land reform and so on. I do not hold any brief for ZANU PF but over the years a few of the Young Turks such as Kaukonde, Mandiwanzira, Kasukuwere, Mzembi, Nhema etc. whether through abuse of state resources or no have managed to campaign vigorously and retained the fortunes of the party. So people must not continue thinking that ZANU PF does not hold a brief for a huge section of Zimbabweans because unfortunately due to the ambiguous positions held by the opposition of certain sensitive issues such as land people have chosen to side with ZANU PF.

The biggest challenge that Zimbabweans in the opposition now face after having tasted political office at the highest level is that they are confusing personal interests with the national question. It is a fact that certain sections of the opposition leadership would of course want to go back to government. Could it just be nostalgic feelings really gone bad? Power is sweet, it gives you access to resources and just a feeling of invincibility. Well, it could be as well that these opposition leaders have the peoples’ issues at heart. But it is well that they can wait until the next election. If people really want to go back to government I’m sure they can talk to Gideon Gono, and Gideon can talk to Robert Mugabe and something can be arranged. Let this not be a matter of national interest, because it is not!

One other really disturbing matter that keeps cropping up is of the Western governments not willing to work with the corrupt and inept ZANU PF government when it comes to financial injections into the economy. Well, the country cannot continue and afford to be held hostage by people who are not sure of what exactly it is they want. The West knows fully well the idea of a Transitional Authority is just a phantom dream which cannot come into existence during the tenure of this ZANU PF government. The West must by now have engaged think tanks and policy gurus to find ways of engaging the Zimbabwean government in ways that can ensure that their resources do not necessarily get siphoned and end up in the pockets of ZANU PF officials. Infact, the West is better reminded that a Marshall Plan of some sort for Zimbabwe now without this thought of a Transitional Authority could help Zimbabweans move from this confusion wherein most people now view them as enemies and stalling Zimbabwe’s progress through sanctions.

If these so brilliant opposition leaders have alternatives then they should be brought up through Parliament or policy conferences where issues can be discussed. Does it really need someone to have a government position for them to be able to propose a reform to the banking sector or the provision of basic education, health and so on? Maybe I am being naïve, but I would suggest we see the alternative policies first – down to the last detail. Of course some gullible politicians will say that they do not want ZANU PF to steal their ideas. But I guess if the objective is to raise Zimbabwe out of the crisis it finds itself, and then let the policies be brought forward.

And the other sore thumb – civil society in Zimbabwe. Most organizations and leaders have rightly refused to take positions on important national matters and others such as the current succession and leadership wrangles in the MDC T and ZANU PF. Fair and fine, no meddling in internal party politics for civil society. But who are we trying to fool here. Most of the leaders because of their democratic right hold very senior advisory positions in the MDC T which compromises their positions when discussing pertinent issues that could affect the nation. Many a times, critical leaders have failed to comment on Morgan Tsvangirai’s reported and wanton abuse of his girlfriends and wives. The abuse of women cannot be a private matter! People failed to raise even their eyebrows when news surfaced that Tendai Biti had tried to raise funds to rescue a faltering private bank using NSSA funds. When Tendai Biti was reportedly representing Gideon Gono people felt it better to be quiet. But I contend that this is exactly what is messing up civil society and the opposition leadership. People in the opposition in Zimbabwe have become compromised and therefore are taking compromises when it comes to dealing with critical national issues in Zimbabwe.

Another GNU by any other fancy name such as Transitional Authority is not acceptable. In any case, I am going to give ZANU PF free advice. I think they would only be stupid to accept something like that. Zimbabwe must move on. Let us find national solutions to critical problems affecting the nation. Giving national and executive jobs to the boys is not a national question. The opposition needs to go back to the drawing board, strategize and launch a new chapter for 2018. Right now most in the opposition leadership are very compromised and will make compromise decisions detrimental to Zimbabweans.

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