BULAWAYO – Political analysts in Bulawayo say a recent spate in forging alliances amongst political parties was a sign of thriving democracy.
Those who decided so should not be condemned as it was their democratic right, they said.
Last week the MDC led by Welshman Ncube and Zapu led by Dumiso Dabengwa forged an alliance to cement their electoral position in the forthcoming crunch polls.
This happened after the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai had signed a deal for an electoral pact with MavaMbo/Dawn/Kusile (MKD) leader Simba Makoni and Reketai Sengwayo of Zanu Ndonga.
Many people had anticipated a grand coalition where major political parties could have united to contest Zanu PF’s enduring hegemony spanning 33 years.
But the parties apparently could not agree on a plethora of issues hinged on principles and ideologies.
With a surprise alliance coming from the country’s southern region where Zapu and MDC decided to join forces, much has been said labelling the two as regionalists bent on dividing votes to deny Tsvangirai a possible outright election victory.
But political analysts defended the new development.
Political analyst Dumisani Nkomo told the Daily News that political alliances were in fact a positive development in the Zimbabwean political landscape.
“Alliances are very important at this stage. It shows that as a nation we are going somewhere. Of course what has been an ideal situation was to have a broader political alliance that would face Zanu PF in the forthcoming elections,” Nkomo said.
“It would however, been unfair to say the new alliance is improper and built on regional basis. All political parties have a right to choose who to align with no matter how small. It is basically a win-win scenario which is good in a democracy.
“There must not be a big brother mentality as to who should be joined and who should join.
“It is important that now we are going to see a situation whereby in areas like Matabeleland where Zapu supporters could have voted for Zanu PF, so this time they have a better option,” he explained.
With regards to Zanu PF’s culture of violence, Nkomo said this time around the ex-majority party was using “a smarter way whereby they are using the brain in such places as rigging using voter registration and the voters’ roll among other things.”
Political analyst Dumisani Mpofu described the MDC-Zapu alliance as critical.
“The MDC-Zapu alliance is a critical one especially in Matabeleland where there is usually serious voter apathy, a situation that has been working very well for Zanu PF. This alliance is likely to reduce that voter apathy and increase the appetite for voting hence the panic by Zanu PF.”
Mpofu said while a bigger voter turnout is now anticipated in the region, the big question remaining is who will they vote for in the face of numerous political parties.
Mpofu criticised those who believe MDC and Zapu could have joined Tsvangirai rather than forming their own separate alliance.
“Of course there are those who think Zapu and MDC should have included mainstream MDC. In my view, that is unfair. I oppose those who think Zapu and MDC alliance will not work. If the two parties saw themselves in terms of programming and future strategic thinking being similar, they did the right move,” he said.
“Politics is not about promoting one person against another, but it is about establishing a sustainable democratic future. Democracy without pluralism is not democracy.”
Mpofu also said both alliances Zapu-MDC and the MDC-Mavambo and Zanu Ndonga were formed on regional basis.
He said alliances benefited Zimbabwean politics as they are likely to minimise violence. In the past Zanu PF has unleashed violence on political opponents to subvert democracy.
“Alliances reduce tension in those areas where they have been formed.
“Zanu PF is known for using tension between so-called opposition political parties to promote political violence so that in the end the parties bear the blame for provocation, not Zanu PF. In this case Zanu PF has been thrown in a tight corner,” said Mpofu.
Plumtree-based political analyst Thomas Sithole believes there is nothing wrong with political parties forming alliances.
“It only serves to indicate that at least some political parties share similar principles. You cannot blame them.
“Basically it is everyone’s right to form a party or get into a coalition which shows how democratic as a country we can be,” Sithole said.
However, he bemoaned lack of unity amongst political parties.
“It is quite sad that Zanu PF has been in power for over three decades and at a time when political parties could be seen forging a united front we see lack of interest or rather wider disagreements between political parties.
“I think parties could have learnt from the 2008 scenario where an absence of a united front gave Zanu PF a life line,” he added.