Zimbabwe: Opposition Splits – Is Zimbabwe’s Multi-Party Democracy Progressing?

The absence of public intellectuals and ideological opinion leaders from the political space has seen a depletion of progressive debate around Zimbabwe’s national issues.

Unfortunately, those that use populist rhetoric are cheered as close to the truth despite a strong lack of facts, rationality and coherence in their homilies.

Of interest to this is the broad debate to interrogate the failure of the opposition to win political power in Zimbabwe.

Of late, this failure has not been located within the failure of the opposition itself, as all blame has been translocated to other political parties, and or Zanu PF.

It is evident that deflection is an instrument the opposition is trying to give legs to run away from accountability to their supporters.

The most empirical conclusion can be that the opposition is now tired. They have been opposition elements for a long time and the splits that have happened in the main opposition are attempts to give impetus to other ideas which only breed prominence ahead of elections and die down soon after.

In this regard, intellectuals have done little to expose why the opposition in Zimbabwe becomes active only during an election, and disappears when the election is over; its lack of experience and a strong base; and lack of internal democracy leading to fragmentation.

Largely, the conduct and performance of the opposition indicate the need to answer a greater question in Zimbabwe’s national body politic on whether as a result of these opposition manoeuvres the country’s multiparty system is progressing or not.

Compromise to gain

In many instances, opposition politics specifically in Zimbabwe have become a career and source of livelihood for many, if not all. This is because of the manner people find themselves in the mainstream opposition.

Some follow individuals who think they can do it alone. What is unknown is that individualism is not a social driver more useful than collectivism.

Of interest are the dynamics that are occurring in the main CCC opposition party which now manifest instability. It does not mean other opposition parties are unimportant, their right to establishment also needs to be judged based on their contribution to multiparty democracy in times of elections and when there are no elections.

In this context, what is telling is the public acrimony between Mr Nelson Chamisa’s backers and Prof Welshman Ncube or Mr Tendai Biti sympathisers.

Firstly, the opposition figures have put it in the open that their differences are irreconcilable, and that whatever they sold to people about a “grand coalition to unseat Zanu PF” is never going to materialise.

So, Zanu PF will remain dominant

Mr Chamisa wants people to believe he can do everything alone. He does not want to compromise because he wants to protect his seat knowing very well that from the onset he was unconstitutionally elevated to lead his seniors.

Now, with a political rally that was conducted by his accessories, Mr Gift Siziba and Mr Amos Chibaya in Manicaland, on a new project they say is being built from “rubble”, Mr Chamisa is telling his former opposition colleagues that he needs independence.

He is quick to forget that in politics, you compromise to get something and pursue strategic interests even from people you disagree with. You should be ready to lose something to gain.

This is why in the GNU, parties in that coalition compromised.

Ultimately, compromise proved it was not a weakness as at the end of the GNU’s tenure Zanu PF had pursued its strategic interests and won against the partners.

New kind of politics

The biggest danger that is being witnessed in the CCC is the politics of regionalism.

The party’s interim secretary-general Mr Sengezo Tshabangu has put it clearly that he is against having candidates from other provinces represent the electorate in Bulawayo.

But Bulawayo is a metropolitan province, just like Harare, it has people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

It is, therefore, illogical to use that as the basis of resisting political competition.

This kind of politics is dangerous because it breeds intolerance and can be traced to the 2005 split of the main MDC triggered by then secretary-general Prof Welshman Ncube. Currently, it can be suggested that Prof Ncube used Mr Tshabangu, a “proxy” secretary-general, like what Mr Biti also did in 2014 as secretary general of the MDC-T to cause a split.

In Tshabangu, those in the opposition supporting him clearly sought someone eloquent, without a political career and who targeted for recalls people who were contesting their allies. This is a CCC internal problem that should not be ventilated to include any other party.

This is a new kind of politics emerging in the CCC in which the people are putting the regional concerns over anything else. This means when the region is threatened by politics, the protagonists will deal with the leadership to firm their position.

Twin Gods, twin fears

Religion can be an effective instrument in politics. Any political and religious nexus also has its attendant consequences.

The politicisation of religion not only contributes to greater political polarisation, but it diminishes the ability of society to be rationale as they are clothed with zealotry to gain political goals.

This is the fear countenancing Zimbabweans where Mr Chamisa now intends to infuse a religious-politico movement to divide the nation along the lines of the pious against the profane and pitting people as good against bad.

Conscious citizens and other well-meaning stakeholders ought to be ignited to ensure that there is an extrication of politics from religion and reduce the level of crisis that has their roots in this politico-religious interplay that Mr Chamisa wants to introduce.

In the opposition, it can therefore, be deduced that there is an urgent need for protagonists and authorities to find the best way of freeing religion from the grip of Zimbabwe’s national politics.

The notion that people can be indoctrinated to become the praying wing of a political party should not be made to gain ground.

Zim’s not a failed State

When he quit the CCC, Mr Chamisa said he arrived at that decision because of “infiltration” which he blamed on the State. Consider this, Mr Chamisa decried “infiltration” while leading an organisation or “party without structures”.

This coincided with a time the world, especially Africa, is grappling with terrorism, banditry, transnational criminal syndicates, organised crime and intra-state violence being executed by unstructured entities. Does this not ignite the interest of any State?

Suppose his point or argument on the State wanting to know what was happening in the CCC was valid, what is also valid is that Zimbabwe is neither a pariah nor a failed State.

In any active state, the idea that everything that happens in any organisation is of interest to the security of the citizens shows that the state’s establishment is working.

Politically, if infiltration or the need to know what was happening in his former party was the chief reason to quit, then his reasoning was porous because that is ancient practice.

The first obligation of every state in the world is to ensure the security of its borders and citizens. Any establishment wants to know what happens in various institutions to prepare, plan and protect the state and its authority as a seat of power.

What happens nationally is also replicated at an international level. At the global level, states conduct espionage and covert operations on each other to gather timeous and accurate information for each state’s benefit.

The United States last year accused the People’s Republic of China of flying a spy balloon over its airspace. Recently, Israel accused Iran of attempts to recruit Israeli nationals as spies to damage Israel’s national resilience.

Historically, during the Cold War, the USSR’s KGB and the US’s CIA used their intelligence agencies to infiltrate another in search of information.

Zimbabwe is neither a pariah nor a failed State.

As a modern State, it cannot live in a chaotic state of nature. Looking for timely information is a key priority of the State to ensure stability and citizen’s security.

The state of opposition is a sorry one. It can all be left out to the jury to find out if our multi-party democratic system is progressing or not.

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