|Edinah Masanga writes|
her personal capacity.
The past weeks have seen nothing but turmoil in Zimbabwe; political activist Itai Dzamara was abducted ,street demonstrations rocked Harare city centre, university lecturers downed tools, students took to the streets, University of Zimbabwe closed and reopened, there was a dramatic jailbreak at Chikurubi, bank closures, deepening and irreversible factionalism in Zanu Pf, and lastly the big one, the decision to honour MDCT request to expel Biti and company formerly MDCT parliamentarians from parliament.
The major question which has the political community talking is whether or not MDCT should participate in the by elections. Of course me being me I have to add my voice to the diverse opinions and theories doing rounds.
All things being equal you would think the current situation in the country would secure the opposition parties victory, what with the economy screaming, public servants going many months without pay, industries closing and the economy plummeting further down. Obviously what sustained the current regime in 2008 will not today because the economy doesn't have local currency. Gono can't print more money. These are turnaround factors and the MDCT would be blind not to consider them when deciding to or not to participate in by-elections.
However, the reality is that they are likely to loose all the seats because the reforms that prevent electoral theft haven't been effected. Furthermore, one need not be a rocket scientist to see that the Zanu pf which is leading at the moment is prepared to thwart opposition, internally or externally, by any means necessary and possible. Therefore its not about pride, its about making a strategic move. The MDCT has a resolution in place not to participate in anymore elections unless electoral reforms to prevent electoral theft are introduced and implemented. Therefore you can't say the reforms are a prerequisite then tomorrow you start changing and participating in by elections and after you loose you again say the playing field was not level.
History shows clearly that the MDCT is not likely to take over governance of the country through election in the current environment. Yeah. Remember in 2013, they came back from Maputo with Tendai Biti praise showering on Jacob Zuma like a Mickey Mouse but back home they didn't have a plan whether to participate or not. They then participated because they said we can't give Zanu PF victory. Yes, Zanu PF could have claimed victory against Kisinoti Mukwazhi only but the MDC un-strategically participated and lost. After a heavy blow the world condemned them at home and abroad on why they participated without reforms. Today they want to make the same mistake - " participate without reforms then complain - bad idea.
Zimbabwe politics at this moment requires the MDCT to operate on these fundamental values; principled action, strategic moves, capability and technical prowess
Political scientist and policy expert Edknowledge Mandikwaza agrees, "In principle the MDCT prevented many of its candidates to participate in local government by-elections to fulfill its Congress resolutions. Now what has changed that warrant their change of mind? Them selectively participating in the proposed by-elections means they are not committed to their own demands for electoral reforms. Participation in the by-elections means they have run out of ideas to pressure Zanu PF to the round table and it signifies highest level of unhelpful inconsistency and stupor of elephantine proportions'', he said.
I understand Mandikwaza's frustration and it is one that would be shared by many MDCT supporters worldwide.
Of course some might argue that they keep giving Zanu Pf victory on a silver platter but at the end of the day its not about giving away victory to ZANU PF, its about principles of consistency, strategic action and moves.
In 2005, 2008 rerun, 2013 elections, the MDCT never got to be consistent. Decision making seems to me as having been the greatest challenge. So they need to be very clear on what they want to do
because this by election should not be about testing popularity in my view. It should be about tagging the enemy and making strategic moves. If you ask me why all I have to say is the public is gullible and similarly, the popularity in a dictatorship is misleading. Because, popularity in a dictatorship cannot be translated into electoral success. In a democracy popularity would be an advantage but in a dictatorship only strategy works.
In summary here is a few pointers on why MDCT should NOT rescind its congress decision not to participate in the any by-election; (1) the group that has taken over Zanu PF is openly ruthless and prepared to use force since they cannot win support and power through correcting the economy because they are incapacitated to do so, the only option to them is force (2) factionalism in Zanu PF is beyond repair and the current Zanu pf leadership is prepared to thwart any threats to their leadership both internally and externally (3) the resurgence of the MDCT and the opposition in general is a threat to the new powers that be in Zanu pf who have already openly shown a humongous appetite for power and the Dzamara disappearance ties into their current strategy because it is only prudent for them to crackdown on any new social power bases such as organised CSOs and opposition protests. (4) the new Zanu PF power base is not interested in political philosophy or ideology for political resurgence hence only fear and violence are the most attractive options for them. (5) finally, the CSOs have been weakened and artificially divided and there is repressive legislation in place which gives Zanu PF a strong leeway to test their violence machines and technical strategies without any pressure or fear of loosing the ball to the pro-democracy forces.
So again in my small opinion I think this is the time for the MDCT to pull its socks and organise itself from the grassroots. Its hightime they mobilise and build their internal capacity and create effective strategies to tackle Zanu pf. Participating in by elections at the moment is seldom a wise or lucrative decision at the present.