One basic fact about our politics in Zimbabwe is that the fragmented opposition in the country is weak and unlikely to win elections against the ruling zanu-pf party today or any time soon.
There are several factors that have contributed to this situation and a whole thesis can be proffered on the rise and fall of the opposition since 2000.
In simple terms, the opposition, by which we mean MDC, which has since split into several formations, came with a lot of thunder in 1999 on the back of various factors that made socio-economic sense to seek a political alternative.
It was a justifiable, rational and unavoidable outcome.
In the years that followed, beginning with the parliamentary polls of June 2000 when the new party, with a few months of existence, got a decent 57 seats against zanu-pf’s 62 translating to 1 171 096 popular votes compared to the ruling party’s 1 211 284 or 47 percent against 48,6 percent for zanu-pf.
In the presidential poll in March 2002, the ruling party’s candidate, President Mugabe, got 1 685 212 or 56,2 percent while MDC’s Tsvangirai got 1 258 401 or 42 percent.
But the crowning moment appeared to be the year 2008, when the opposition MDC led by Tsvangirai bettered zanu-pf by 100 to 99 parliamentary seats while in the presidential election Tsvangirai won the first round of elections with 47,9 percent against 43,2 percent for President Mugabe, a margin that was not, however, enough because the winner did not pass the 50 percent +1 required by the law to be declared the winner.
Tsvangirai purported to pull out of the logical second round the following June, which President Mugabe won, albeit under a shadow of the confusion caused by Tsvangirai’s illegal pullout on the 11th hour.
But the dynamics had changed.
Tsvangirai and his outfit had become a force to reckon with.
They could even fancy “taking power from within” – as they entered a coalition government.
The opposition was at its strongest.
But it was at its weakest, too.
The weakness had begun with the split in 2005 and this could be said to be structural, and politically, 2008 was when the opposition lost its virginity.
Thus, having lost innocence, the world came to know its anatomy in ways that banished chastity, beauty, aura, mystification and electric attraction.
2013 came and people rejected MDC in all its guises.
And to make matters worse, the party split further with Messrs Biti and Mangoma going their way – and separate ways, giving us new nomenclatures by the way of People’s Democratic Party and Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe respectively, and in reverse, chronologically.
Another election, another loss
We are not going to have general elections any time soon.
However, pollsters and think tanks have been regularly been doing their work and telling us that “if elections were to be held tomorrow” the opposition would come to grief.
That is a trite point to make.
What is even clearer is that as we hurtle towards 2018, the opposition will be as fragmented, disorganised and un- electable as ever.
Let’s not talk about the so-called People First project, which does not amount to much now.
There is a new development by way of our march towards 2018.
This week, our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, reported that the country would be using the biometric system in voting.
In simple terms, it is an electronic voting process that uses the fingerprint which is scanned to recognise an individual as the fingerprint is unique thereby being used for all the data that relate to the voting process.
It is the epitome of technology and one of the demands that the opposition has been giving to ensure transparency.
It would be remembered that the main opposition MDC has been calling for “No reforms, No Elections”.
The biometric system is key for this reform.
Guess what? After the announcement of the good news of the biometric system, the opposition has been caught at sixes and sevens!
They apparently don’t like one such reform they demanded, after all.
The reaction has been between annoyance and genuine fear that the last excuse has been dragged from under the feet.
The main MDC has been clutching at straws from questioning who would control and man the machines to calling for the resignation of Registrar- General Tobaiwa Mudede who clearly does not have, and will not have anything to do with elections in 2018.
We were being told of the Chinese working with the Israelis to roll out a grand theft of elections.
You know, the kind of bull we hear in the bars -that is what is coming from the opposition.
But it is one Pishayi Muchauraya, who belongs to the miniscule RDZ of Mangoma, who gave a classically nonsensical and ignorantly desperate reaction.
He wrote at length on his Facebook wall.
Here is what he wrote (forgive us we did not edit it, preferring to give you in its raw form):
“If you do not know what Mugabe and his huge team were doing in the Far East please postpone your celebrations for the coincidental announcement of the HiTech voting system. zanu-pf is known for its great tricks. Biometri voting can be manipulated especially by ZANU PF’s Asian friends who can also produce plastic rise to feed the whole world. It would be for the first time for zanu pf to consent to a system that will make them leave power . There are a number of areas that have to be looked into before people celebrate.
– Who controls the password for the gardgets to be used ?
– Can our voters argue with the machine operators when it says “ cant recognise your finger or eye”?
– Zanu pf has a record of using cellphones for intimidating people that your vote is not a secret, chances are that they will still say this computer reports directly to Gushungo and that will have a lot of takers. Kare tanga tisikuziva pamaivhotera but now tave kukuonai with our computers and will make a follow up. This destroys the “your vote is your secret” because computers have a perceptions of seeing everything and indeed if it can identify your iris it can identify your vote, this perception is very very strong
– there is a high probability of the presence of Chinese ICT inspectors at each centre to check on their machinery.
– Zec has already employed a strong team called Team Consulting to run their 5 Year programme. Remember 5 years from now is 2021 when the General Elections are due in 2018. What that means is Dr Amai is planning to extent her over due stay at State House using this High Tech voting whose introduction coincided with her return from the far east.
– So man times we have seen pensioners going to the Banks to get their monies only to be told “our system is down” , the same gonna apply with this Biometric voting in opposition strongholds and you cannot argue with a computer.
Zec which is struggling with its budget might struggle with the back up systems.
As RDZ we are not part of the celebrating team because we doubt zanu pf,s sincererity and that Zec is run by zanu pf and security functionaries.
The law says Zec must be Independent but it still hangs in the Ministry of Justice under Cde Mnangagwa . Rita is still the boss at both”
We were tempted to pass judgment, but the reader can make their own conclusions.
Suffice to say, this is the nature of our opposition in Zimbabwe today and in 2018.