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Opposition forces in Africa lacks strategic intelligence to wrestle power from the incumbents. Case study - Zimbabwe and Zambia

02 Jun 2020 at 19:21hrs | Views
Getting into State House is not about numbers of figures, but it is about strategic intelligence. Winning elections is another factor and going to State House is another issue. If you see ruling Governments relaxed towards elections, never underestimate the power of incumbents or those who are in power. There must be depth in every political move. Why is it that most opposition forces in Africa, particularly in the SADC continent, failed to wrestle power from the incumbents? This is a research topic which deserve coverage and wider publicity. Africa lacks depth analysis and research on political ecology. We rely much on top to bottom theory, where it must be vice versa, it must be from bottom to top theory. Over the past three decades there have been some progress towards institutionalizing multi-party democracy in Sub – Sahara Africa. According to the survey conducted in Harare and Lusaka, about 2500 interviews conducted (surveys), clearly shows that there is a widespread support for multi-party politics. The survey also clearly shows that opposition forces face major obstacles to winning majority support.

The main objective of this research is to find the root problem why majority of opposition forces claim victory but fail to wrestle power from the incumbents. In 2016, Hakainde Hichilema from UPND claimed victory over the August 2016 polls, and he went to an extent of filing an electoral petition in the con-court and it was thrown out. The poll petition delayed the swearing in of the incumbent President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu who replaced the late Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front. Going by the same fact, Hakainde Hichilema should have wrestled power in 2015, during the by-election when he campaigned for power for 90 days, when Lungu only campaigned for 14 days after his party was marred with intra-party internal rife ahead of the by-election.

Hichilema failed to wrestle power. In the Zimbabwean scenario, Tsvangirai claimed victory over four times and he failed to wrestle power from the former Head of State, Robert Mugabe. What exactly happened? In 2008, Tsvangirai nearly won and he failed to wrestle power, which led to a bloody run off. Finally there was a power sharing arrangement which brought some political and economic stability. We had the same scenario, were Chamisa who assumed the role of Presidency following the death of Tsvangirai failing to garner at least 50% which was required for power transfer. Let's come back closer home, MDC fails to deal with infiltration, why is it that there was double candidature countrywide especially on parliamentary elections? Who causes that? Money might have exchanged hands between those who were responsible for signing for candidates and state agents. For example the Goromonzi West case were both MDC candidates got good numbers but none of them got the seat. MDC were busy shouting on twitter, and all social media platforms, we have all the V11 forms, and did they produce them in court? What happened to the V11 forms? Zanu-PF was quiet and strategizing on the ground whilst you were busy shouting that you have the V11 forms.

Lack of strategy
Most opposition leaders will always remain in opposition mainly because of failure to adhere to technical advice. Too many blunders along the way will always cost. During the run up to 2016 elections in Zambia I was in Zambia. I made serious observations and I concluded that Hichilema was going to lose those elections. Winning elections is not about numbers but strategy. Who counts votes is another question of the day? Who does the tallying is another question of the day? Who does the announcement is another question of the day? Who signs the V11 forms? Who collects the V11 forms? You don't expect the presidential candidate to collect all the V11 forms countrywide. Someone has to do the work. During the run up to 2018 elections, most MPs, candidates were busy looking for polling agents in what's app groups honestly? Can that be done by a party which wants to form a Government? Looking for agents on social media? Look at Lungu, he talks less, and Hichilema is always on media.

The secret of success is SILENCE IS GOLDEN. When you talk everyone knows your next political move and it is easier for them to make advanced researches. Never underestimate the power of incumbents, they have mastered the art of politics. Look at the way Lungu rose to prominence with limited resources, he managed to get to plot number one. In politics you have to be well positioned and strategic. I'm in most social media platforms, I can honestly tell you this, and opposition forces in Zimbabwe are easily infiltrated. All their plans are on social media, they splash their next move, when one plans to contest for the forth coming elective congress they are already on social media. One must be strategic, well calculative, well positioned and positioned for the battle.
Lack of intelligence

In 2016, Hichilema made a strong announcement that there will be Armageddon in Zambia if he loses elections. That statement shows that he lacks depth and he is shallow. Why should your opponent know exactly your next political move? So what did the State do? They moved in to quench any security threat and today, Hichilema is in opposition. Recently they formed an alliance, whoever gave them advice, is not intelligent, they are not strategic at all, because why? We have elections in 2021, and why publishing all those plans now? The alliance is subject to infiltration. One thing for sure which I can tell you for now, these bunch of opposition leaders, love photo and self-pictures. Each time they hold meetings which are sensitive and confidential they are already splashing those photos. Sometimes in politics you need to grow and learn to keep your cards close to your chest. The State has strong apparatus and they have all social media groups at hand. That is the work of the state, to protect the incumbent at any cost.
The other challenge which they have at hand is that, they can't identify infiltration, and they clap hands for everything. You have to master the art of politics and the science of politics, master it and read between the lines. For now it's not like Zanu-PF favour Mwonzora, it's just a simple game, they have mastered the art of politics, Zanu-PF takes opportunity of what is at hand, and they work with what is at hand. For now they just took advantage of your infighting, simple, it's not like they want Mwonzora, no, it's a simple game divide and rule politics. It's a rule in politics. For now they are winning on it. What makes you think Zanu-PF loves Mwonzora? If Mwonzora win presidency at the elective congress, he will be subject of brutal attacks after congress and you will be surprised. What they simple want is to ensure that there two groups or there is fallout and they play with your minds. I have been going through comments on social media, opposition lacks depth, and all their plans are on social media already. Swallow pride and take heed to good strategic advice. Loud mouth is dangerous in politics. Play your cards close to your chest, silence is golden.
Lack of coordination and resource mobilization

Ruling Governments have an added advantage that each and every day that passes by they are always in the campaigning mood, whilst opposition leaders are having press briefings on daily basis. People in rural areas are not aware of press conferences, what they only want is sugar and inputs etc. you must always master the art of politics. Zanu-PF is focusing on rural electorate. Most constituencies are divided and there are more constituencies in rural areas than in urban areas. Where was Nelson Chamisa, when Zanu-PF was busy dividing rural constituencies? Where was Douglas Mwonzora when Government was conducting delimitation exercise? Look at Budiriro constituency, it has over 50 000 people, and looking at it, these should be two constituencies. Look at Headlands constituency with less than 30 000 people, it was divided into two, and Zanu-PF won both seats. That's politics and you need to masters the art of it.

Every incumbent President has state resources at his disposal. He has state machinery with him, with opposition, you have few cars in a convoy. For you to win elections you need resources. You don't just wake up in State House, you have to mobilize resources and search for strategic information and create a good intelligence wing. For MDC they have numbers, we don't deny this, but my simple question is all those people who come for your rallies, for example the Gweru rally last week, are all registered voters? Do those people appear on the voter's roll? Did they vote? Are your numbers increasing or declining in the recent rallies? Did you make any research? Don't be fooled by people who attend rallies, because majority of them when MDC call for a rally they put on red regalia and when Zanu-PF, call for a rally same venue you will be surprised they will be putting on green attire, but I'm not denying the fact that MDC controls urban areas whilst Zanu-PF controls rural base.
Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo writes in his personal capacity as an academic and he is studying Doctor of Philosophy at Women's University of Africa and he can be contacted at

Source - Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo PhD
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