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MDC has a strong president but no party to talk about says British Professor

by Staff reporter
26 Aug 2021 at 19:43hrs | Views
British professor of world politics Stephen Chan says it would be difficult for Zimbabwe's main opposition MDC Alliance to emulate Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema's electoral landslide as it only has a strong presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa, but no party to talk about.

"In Zambia Hichilema's UNDP also defeated Lungu's PF party, making it a Presidential AND Parliamentary victory. The quality of the party counts. In Zimbabwe, MDC remains in disarray. A Presidential candidate can't be a lone ranger. If he can't run a party, can he run a nation?"

Chan's observations captured above are likely to ruffle feathers within the MDC, but also get its leaders and supporters thinking about the state of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.

There is a strong body of opinion in political circles that advances the same argument as Chan, saying the MDC Alliance has a relatively strong candidate, but a weak party which is why Chamisa performed better than the party in the 2018 elections.

However, some critics say Chan is ignoring the political environment and context in which Hichilema and his party operated in Zambia compared to the MDC Alliance and Chamisa in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin'ono tackled Chan on that issue raising the point above.

"As a professor, you should know that a result can only be understood if you contextualise it. Did Hichilema face an onslaught on his party by State institution as Nelson Chamisa did? Did he have State institutions take his party and create a puppet opposition? Be fair to facts!"

While Chin'ono's point is valid and can't be ignored, critics also insist the MDC Alliance needs to rebuild structures, increase organisational capacity to mobilise voters, get the youth to register and vote, ensure it has enough polling agents all over the country and resources.

In his book Why Mugabe Won: the 2013 Elections in Zimbabwe and their Aftermath, Chan says while "judicious rigging" helped Zanu PF and Mugabe to win, the MDC also lost due to ineptness on the part of Morgan Tsvangirai and the party, which he said were disorganised for the polls.

While admitting many challenges which the late Tsvangirai and the MDC faced, that helped Mugabe and Zanu-PF win, Chan and his co-author Julia Gallagher say in addition to all of these factors, the issue is that going into the 2013 elections the MDC ran a haphazard campaign.

Chan seems to be warning of the same problem ahead of the 2023 elections, criticism which the MDC Alliance leadership and supporters can ill-afford to ignore if they are to frankly and critically self-introspect , while strategically and seriously preparing for the next polls.

And yet the MDC has a far bigger challenge in dealing with the external environment compared to internal weaknesses: An explosive political situation, intimidation, violence, captured state institutions, particularly the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and military interference.

The above issues have always led to manipulation of elections and complaints of vote-rigging and subversion of the people's will in Zimbabwe.

Resultantly, this has created some political stalemate and lack of legitimacy on the part of rulers, perpetuating the national crisis.

Source - online
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