Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
MDC-T became increasingly unelectable because of the complacency that crept into the party and a penchant for jet-set lifestyles, leading to the party’s crushing defeat at the hands of Zanu-PF in the harmonised elections, Mass Public Opinion Institute executive director Professor Eldred Masunungure has said.
The MPOI is one of the organisations that foretold MDC-T’s defeat, having carried out its own survey as well as another on behalf of the American think-tank Freedom House that also pointed to a Zanu-PF victory.
Prof Masunungure, a well-known Zanu-PF critic, said while MDC-T officials were preoccupied with the new life that came with executive treatment, Zanu-PF was busy rejuvenating its support base, particularly in rural areas.
The UZ academic said this as he delivered a paper during an annual stakeholders’ conference organised by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe aimed at reviewing the media environment in the new political arrangement.
He trashed allegations by MDC-T that the harmonised elections were manipulated, saying that was not possible given the fact that the party was a partner in the inclusive Government.
“The party became less electable than Zanu-PF,” said Prof Masunungure, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer.
“If there was any rigging, I would say, the MDC-T loss was a reflection not of rigging but of the margin of complacency and arrogance by the MDC-T.”
Prof Masunungure had been asked to deliver a paper on “Zimbabwe’s political environment — Elections review and prospects for the future.”
Zanu-PF dominates the 270-member National Assembly with 197 seats, MDC-T has 70, MDC two, with the remaining seat being held by independent legislator for Mudzi South Cde Jonathan Samukange.
The Upper House has 80 seats with Zanu-PF accounting for 37 seats, MDC-T 21 and the MDC one, with chiefs coming in with 18 members and people with disabilities being represented by two special interest senators.
Prof Masunungure said MDC-T lost both its passive and active supporters.
“I would argue that the embarrassing defeat suffered by the MDC-T was that the MDC-T suffered the heavy cost of complacency. I would add that the glamour of office during the Government of National Unity had also compounded the complacency.
“While Zanu-PF was busy rejuvenating its structures, fair or foul, MDC-T was busy basking in the sun, seemingly believing that the sun would not set. It set.”
Prof Masunungure dismissed claims that Zanu-PF rigged the elections, saying that was strange as Mr Tsvangirai himself had said he was in charge of the election preparations.
He said Zanu-PF had won fairly.
“Zanu-PF did so through the pen rather than the fist, through the ballot rather than the bullet,” said Prof Masunungure.
“If any fists were used, I think they were hidden in the velvet gloves. There is little doubt that Zanu-PF out-foxed, out-muscled and out-organised its competitors.
“Its competitors were clearly not a match for the 50-year-old political party.” Another political analyst Mr Gabriel Chaibva castigated the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe for failing to invite Zanu-PF.
He said it was critical for them when conducting such seminars to invite the ruling party.
“I came here as a political analyst and not representing Zanu-PF,” he said. “There is a sinister agenda to create unanimity in condemning Zanu-PF.”
The workshop was being held under the theme: “Zimbabwe’s media, the next five years. Democratisation and Expansion”.
Various media practitioners delivered papers on different subjects.