‘Opposition wars comic and tragic’…analysts say, adding 2023 may already be gone

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Blessings Mashaya

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

mashayab@dailynews.co.zw

POLITICAL analysts say the deepening rifts in the country’s seemingly voodooed opposition will once again gift the ruling Zanu PF an easy victory in the 2023 national elections.

The analysts also told the Daily News yesterday that neither the MDC’s new leader Douglas Mwonzora nor his predecessor Thokozani Khupe could change the main opposition party’s fortunes ahead of 2023.

In addition, they said, Nelson Chamisa was unlikely to benefit from the current pointless squabble between Mwonzora and Khupe — arguing that he, too, “was no saint”.

All this comes as the MDC continues to be hobbled by its senseless and long-running factional wars — which began since the death of its much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, who succumbed to cancer of the colon in February 2018.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, the analysts predicted that the opposition would receive a heavy shellacking at the next polls — unless there was a dramatic change in the national body politic.

“The opposition is splintering in a way that seems to the outside world to be both comic and tragic.

“Three leaders of the opposition are too much (Chamisa, Khupe and Mwonzora). What it means is that Zanu PF will dominate the 2023 elections.

“It will continue to seek to incorporate the MDC of either Khupe or Mwonzora into a minority fixture in Zimbabwean politics, primarily to further marginalise Chamisa,” professor of World Politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Stephen Chan, told the Daily News.

“Zanu PF knows that neither Khupe nor Mwonzora could win large enough numbers of votes to challenge it.

“Only Chamisa could do that, but stripping party machinery and funding away from Chamisa will leave him ineffectual as he will be unable to mount any meaningful national campaign,” the respected academic added.

Senior consultant at the International Crisis Group (ICG), Piers Pigou, also warned that the worsening fissures in the MDC would benefit President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu PF.

“The chaos at the MDC extraordinary elective congress on Sunday has done little to instil confidence in opposition politics at this time.

“This only benefits the ruling party if the general electorate does not see a viable and valuable alternative,” Pigou told the Daily News.

“Having said that, this latest drama exposes again a large degree of irrelevance amongst the players involved, especially as the MDC … leadership do not represent a significant constituency.

“Despite this, they remain a fly in the ointment for the … MDC Alliance who have been unable to stop the on-going dismantling of its asset and elected platform base following the Supreme Court ruling that has also led to this dog’s breakfast of a congress,” Pigou added.

Lawyer and former MDC vice president, Obert Gutu, blamed “a culture of self-destruction” among opposition leaders whenever they differed.

“Until we realise that opposition political parties are their own worst enemies, Zimbabwe will continue to be governed by Zanu PF ad infinitum.

“While the ruling party doesn’t split because of differences, in opposition political parties splitting is fashionable.

“As 2020 comes to an end, I just want to reiterate what I have been saying for the past several months,” Gutu wrote on microblogging site Twitter.

“Any political analyst worth his or her salt will tell you that in Zimbabwe, 2023 is a done deal. Hate me or insult me as much as you like, but this is the cold, hard truth …

“When I was still in the mix, I tried my level best to offer sincere and comradely advice. I was genuine, as I always am.

“Some ‘criminals’ were surrounding the president (Khupe). That wasn’t my style. I couldn’t breathe. I saw this coming. It was always an accident waiting to happen. Sad,” Gutu added.

This comes after Gutu quit his MDC post last year.

It also comes after Mwonzora polled an emphatic 883 votes against Khupe’s 118 during Sunday’s chaotic extra-ordinary congress in Harare, in which the other two presidential candidates — Elias Mudzuri and Morgen Komichi — got a paltry 14 and nine votes respectively.

However, Khupe has since claimed that she remained the MDC’s interim president after she “nullified” the results of the weekend vote and also “suspended” Mwonzora — suggesting that the party’s energy-sapping confusion and anarchy will continue.

Mudzuri has also joined Khupe in rejecting the results of the poll, similarly accusing Mwonzora of rigging and manipulating the voters’ roll — accusations which the well-regarded Harare lawyer has dismissed as “sour grapes”.

“I suspended Mwonzora. That so-called extra-ordinary congress was a non-event. I am still the acting president of the party.

“We are going to have our national council meeting and map the way forward,” the angry Khupe told the Daily News on Monday.

“The voters’ roll was changed. I wanted the party to have a free and fair election. I said after a few provinces voted that the election is a non-event.

“Our agents were being thrown out. They were being intimidated. The (Mwonzora) thugs were harassing everyone and it was not an election.

“All this was pre-planned to rig elections. Mwonzora remains suspended as the party is investigating his conduct,” Khupe further told the Daily News.

After Khupe “officially suspended” Mwonzora, legal experts said it was not clear in what capacity she had done so as she was a participant in Sunday’s vote, which had also since been officially endorsed by the strife-torn party.

In her “suspension letter”, Khupe accused Mwonzora of sponsoring violence against party members and rival election agents.

One of the country’s key political figures also warned at the weekend that the opposition risked receiving a heavy drubbing by Zanu PF in the fast-approaching 2023 elections, unless they ended their rifts.

Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) leader, Jacob Ngarivhume, told the Daily News’s sister publication, the Daily News On Sunday that the futile infighting and disarray that continued to characterise opposition politics in the country needed to be resolved as soon as possible, as it was a sure-fire way of losing the next polls again.

“There is need for us to deal with the elephant in the room, which is a lack of genuine unity talks among the opposition forces — because some are in pursuit of personal, at the expense of national, interests.

“I don’t think that we are going to make progress in 2023 until we deal with this elephant in the room.

“We have our heritage under threat, and so we must be able to use that as a rallying point to fight Zanu PF, which is our common enemy,” the concerned Ngarivhume told the Daily News On Sunday.

“We have (unfortunately) not been seeing the need to consider fighting as a united front because there was no strong rallying point.

“We cannot afford to wait for 2023 … So, we are working to ensure that by 2021, we have done the right thing and reach a deal.

“We need to take advantage of things that bring us together … the knowledge that we are Zimbabweans … we all love our country and … wish for it to prosper for the good of future generations,” he further told the Daily News On Sunday.

Ngarivhume is among the few opposition bigwigs who have been visibly trying to ratchet up pressure on Zanu PF on the ground, to force the ruling party to deal with the country’s sickly economy and rising public sector corruption.

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