Zimbabwe’s opposition is not ready for crunch elections due next year with leaders obsessing about pointless coalitions and “nonsensical” calls for electoral reforms, legislator and veteran politician Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga has said.
The coalition talk is misdirected, focussing more on leadership and the parcelling out of post between the respective political parties, instead of strategizing on winning next year’s elections and, after that, how to take over power.
The main opposition parties, Misihairabwi-Mushonga lamented, have been boycotting by-elections in a bid to press the Zanu PF-led government to implement electoral reforms, not realising that the ruling party was using the votes to get its supporters registered for next year’s all-important poll.
The MDC politician and former cabinet minister in the erstwhile Government of National Unity (GNU), presented her damning assessment of the state of the opposition in an interview with journalist Violet Gonda on the Hot Seat programme.
“One does not get a sense that we have an opposition that understands that it can’t be business as usual,” she said.
“You don’t get a sense that we have an opposition that is strategic. You don’t get a sense that we have an opposition that understands the urgency of what we are facing. We are just about 12 months to an election. What I am getting is disappointing.
“I’m not getting a sense that there is a preparedness, that there is an appreciation that this is the time to do good business. It all seems like everybody thinks that it is OK, that we can continue to be what we’ve been in the past 20-25 years and that we should expect different results.
The country holds fresh elections next year, with President Robert Mugabe, seeking another five -year term at the helm. The 93-year-old has been in charge of the country since independence in 1980.
The opposition has been pressing for reforms they believe will help ensure free and fair elections as well as negotiating a coalition to take on the veteran Zanu PF leader.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga was however, damning of both the coalition push and demands for electoral reforms.
Regarding the latter, the latter, said it should it should be obvious that having failed to force electoral reforms while in government during the GNU, there was little prospect of success now that the opposition was out of power.
As for a coalition; she said it was difficult to imagine how one could be formed between political parties that were breaking up on a daily basis and with people suddenly emerging from nowhere and demanding positions.
“We are stuck in a rut (where all the talk is) about who is going to lead this coalition; how are we going to divide these seats when we get into a coalition,” she said.
“Even people that I’ve never heard of, somebody who has never even run for council or local authority, or done anything at a community level, is beginning to believe that because they woke up one morning and called themselves a president of a political party, therefore they are going to be sitting somewhere where a cake is going to be cut up and they will be given their own three seats, or two seats or one seat, or whatever it is.
“And that is what people have become focused on.”
The opposition also need to disabuse themselves of the idea that Zanu PF could be forced to implement electoral reforms.
” … there are not going to be any reforms. If we couldn’t have the reforms in the Inclusive Government, when we were sitting together at the same table; when we had the international community interested in Zimbabwe; when we had a regional body that was engaged in one way or the other and we had Zimbabwe on the agenda of the SADC summit every time there was a SADC Summit.
“All those things don’t exist anymore. So, it is folly, it is nonsensical for anybody to think there are going to be electoral reforms.”
She said the 2008 elections proved that Mugabe could be defeated without electoral reforms, emphasising that the opposition must now focus on getting its supporters to register as voters.
“I am not a believer in that we will see any electoral reform and I think it’s time in our minds and in our messages, as opposition political parties, that we begin to tell ourselves that this is almost going to be like the 2000 elections, it’s going to be like 2008 elections where we had no reforms, when things were bad, and yet we beat Zanu PF.”
She added; “We have a situation where the system has said we are going to have a new voters’ roll and this is how this voters roll is going to be done.
“In my opinion, it does not make sense to be sitting around arguing whether there is going to be Biometric Voter Roll (BVR) or no BVR, whether this thing has been given to the Chinese or given to Mars.
“If this is what is likely to be used in this next election, then we have a crisis because we have zero people on the voters’ roll; we have to start getting people to register on the voters’ roll.”
Source: All Africa