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Morgan Tsvangirai and ghost of July 31

28 Jul 2017 at 01:19hrs | Views
THERE shall be no coalition of opposition political parties any time soon beside the delusions of a "grand" one. That means Zanu-PF is left to fight demons only from within for possibly a landslide victory bigger than it got in 2013.

For all talk about a coalition has ceased to be about beating Zanu-PF, it's more about maintaining visibility, and to make a cacophony loud enough to convince the West that Zanu-PF has not reformed so the country must stay under sanctions. Yet the opposition won't go down without a fight, including fighting dirty, and that is the risk of focusing too much on what is a fait accompli.

The coalition idea was sufficient affirmation of what is denied in public. None of the opposition parties is confident, let alone strong enough to stand against Zanu-PF. Hence the obsession with coming together. But that only works where there are commonalities to galvanise voters.

A coalition of convenience is doomed to be weaker than the sum of its constituent parts. Worse still, if such a creature were to win, it poses a grave danger by reducing Zimbabwe to where the West wants it: a failed state, and sufficient justification for military intervention to "protect".

MDC-T's Morgan Tsvangirai has never been good at making strategic decisions: think of boycotting elections, withdrawing MPs from Parliament without a Plan B, and lately, letting his mouth rush ahead of his brain by purporting to impose an unenforceable deadline of July 31 on coalition talks.

(By hindsight, he should have been wary of a July 31, a date which in 2013 ended the first institution of a hung parliament in Zimbabwe and cost the MDC-T a tenuous majority. A date which stripped him of the trappings of power as Prime Minister, a title which media repeatedly invoke, much like to suggest it was the acme of his political career and without it he would be remembered mostly as a trade unionist who became a leader of an opposition party.)

We don't know what credibility Tsvangirai will be left with when July 31 passes without the "big tent" he wants to erect by Save. Those he wants to come under his tent such as Tendai Biti and Joice Mujuru are hesitant. Dumiso Dabengwa is afraid of his dictatorship. His future in politics hangs by a thread.

Here is a man who loves to project himself as the only authentic opposition, and the rest of those he wants to woo into his tent as Zanu-PF projects or outright sellouts!

Political scientist and University of Zimbabwe associate professor Eldred Masunungure this week affirmed a consensus which has been forming for months about the hopeless state of the opposition in Zimbabwe. He doesn't count on the opposition for political change. He is frank to a point of being cruel;

"Coalition or no coalition", Masunungure was quoted saying, "the opposition will emerge second best. I have no illusions of who will emerge victorious.

Maybe you can debate about 2023, not 2018. Zanu-PF has already won."

Then this coup de grace: "The opposition with a big tent coalition, the best it can achieve is second best."

But all this is to make a very optimistic prognosis. How far second best? Is Tsvangirai ready to settle for second best, a second position that's so final about his political endeavours?

In short, is Tsvangirai prepared for a clean loss, to concede defeat and shake the victor's hand to enjoy a peaceful night's sleep?

Certainly not from his comments nor the actions of his subalterns, none of which can be taken as bravado. People who are ready for loss don't make demands which elicit genuine public sympathy.

Yet for all its confusion, the MDC-T wants to be believed when it demands and at the same time rejects ward-based voting, the BVR system, when it claims Zanu-PF is rigging or plans to rig elections but that it will ensure that doesn't happen (the adage is: forewarned is forearmed); when Tsvangirai says he is for the rule of law and constitutionalism but will not accept a result in which he comes out second best!

There would be an uproar if Zanu-PF said potential voters should not be required to produce proof of residence to register: rigging writ large.

Leaving aside the party's foggy demands about electoral reforms, the MDC-T has raised enough dust about the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to poison the well of public opinion. It doesn't have to prove anything; it only requires an alibi which puts into question the credibility of the electoral outcome. To stoke its supporters' anger, and damn the consequences.

Given the MDC-T's failure to clinch power since its birth in 1999, it is fair to say coming second best in elections should have become a new normal by now.

Yet we should worry about how it prepares its supporters to react to defeat, that is, if it doesn't pre-empt that defeat through an election boycott, a strategy it can opt for on the basis of its demands for electoral reforms not being met, and a tenuous belief that only its participation in an election confers legitimacy on the victor.

But the risk of going the boycott route must be self-evident to most impartial observers. Zanu-PF is not manufacturing consensus about a possible victory.

It has demonstrated an ability to mobilise the youths in a way that has shocked and awed political rivals and civic society organisations. And beside the youths, it has a huge loyal constituency among the elderly in and outside urban constituencies.

It requires a formidable political party with a solid message to upset that combined vote.

It also demands an ocean of malice to wring illegitimacy out of such a winner only because Morgan Tsvangirai and a few of his diehard supporters opt not to vote. Not because of the specious "legitimising illegitimacy" argument, but because they risk confirming that they have more social media followers and sympathisers than registered voters.

Both groups face a debilitating cocktail: there is no coalition, there is no message and no campaigning. Which means Zanu-PF can only lose against itself.

People are desperate to see the opposition's competing message, programmes and alternative vision to excite them to register. So far we have been exposed to cheap theatrics about demonstrations in the hopeless belief that bad publicity is still better than no publicity. And this is where both Zanu-PF and the Government have to be careful: the danger of the MDC-T using the so-called reform protests and Government's reaction to them to justify a boycott or to amply the megaphone about widespread pre-election violence.

It is the tradition of George Soros' Open Society Foundation to found, find and sponsor organisations and individuals to manufacture and foment violence just to discredit the whole electoral process. We are talking of people who are paid to play dirty just to spoil it for everyone. The message being, if we can't get the victory, they can't enjoy it.

Finally, Tsvangirai this week came out of his shell to strip himself of the false halo that he is fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe against a Zanu-PF dictatorship. He reportedly imposed a ban on primary elections in the party because he deems them divisive. He said elective congresses and primary elections divided supporters.

So, he declared; "We will select our candidates through consensus. Those who want to contest in a particular constituency must discuss among themselves and come to a consensus. I am waiting to hear the names of the odd ones who will say they cannot find common ground and I will ask them if they are MDC or Zanu-PF."

In case you missed his drift, he went on: "As regards the senate, this time I will choose representatives on my own. I will personally vet whose names will be put forward because I know every MDC cadre and their contribution to the party from its formation."

The hypocrisy about a democratic movement aside, imagine such a megalomaniac wielding State power!

Source - zimpapers
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