Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Does the Zimbabwe opposition stand any realistic chance of winning 2023 elections?

01 Dec 2022 at 14:08hrs | Views
This is the million dollar question - which has been on the lips of many, and the source of much debate, in Zimbabwe.

What I see, though, is that most of us are living in a delusional world - not ready to face reality - maybe, as a way of shielding ourselves from the painful truth, which we may find too painful to take and accept.

As much as that is a normal reaction by the human mind - but, if ever we desire overcoming any challenges we may face, then understanding and accepting reality is the best way to go - as this enables us to prepare and put in place logical strategies and solutions.

Otherwise, the people of Zimbabwe will wake up when it is too late to do anything about it - when reality finally hits home!

Truly speaking, I do not see any change in Zimbabwe's political status quo taking place any time in the foreseeable future.

As long as we have an opposition that actually believes ZANU PF will allow them to rule Zimbabwe, we are not going anywhere.

I keep reiterating this fact.

ZANU PF has a three pronged approach to the 2023 election issue.

1. Win the elections with relatively as little controversy and dispute as possible.
In this scenario, polling figures (both from polling stations and constituencies, V11 and V23) tally as perfectly as possible with those announced by the national command center - and, hopefully limit any rigging allegations.

In this way, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and his ruling ZANU PF party hope for acceptance and legitimacy by the local, but especially international community - as he seeks to be recognized as truly a democratically elected leader.

The flagship of his administration is the 'engagement and re-engagement policy' - which, Mnangagwa is pinning his hopes on for the removal of targeted sanctions and the pariah state tag.

This is what Mnangagwa hopes for.

However, there is a huge hurdle - the ever-growing support and strength of the opposition CCC party.

Mnangagwa would want to weaken the opposition before the 2023 elections.

In order, to achieve this goal he has tried, and continues to try, so many sinister plots - including exploiting internal power struggles witnessed following the death of then MDC-T leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (leading to people as Thokozani Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora being Mnangagwa's running dogs), abuse of state institutions (courts, ZEC, law enforcement), persecution of senior CCC officials and violence onslaught on supporters, and now buying opposition MPs loyalty via the notorious US$40,000 loans.

On the other hand, Mnangagwa is busy with his vote buying in rural areas - through the partisan distribution of government taxpayer-funded assistance.

In all this, ZANU PF hopes to win, in a relatively acceptable manner - as much as all those strategies mentioned effectively render any election not free, fair or credible.

However, in case this plan does not yield the desired result, there is always option 2.

2. Flagrant rigging of elections - whereby, results announced by the electoral commission after the 2023 elections are doctored and far different from those at the polling stations (V11) and constituencies (V23).

This has happened before in 2008 and 2018.

Once this flawed result is challenged in court - there is no need to guess what the potential outcome will be - considering past rulings, and the particular presiding judge the opposition will likely face.

In this regard, as much as ZANU PF would want to avoid this, the risk is far more acceptable for the party than losing power.

The main risk, of course, is conducting another disputed election - which will not be accepted by both the opposition and the international community (particularly, the West) - leading to Mnangagwa's continued questioned legitimacy, and targeted sanctions remaining.

That is a risk he is willing to take, as the consequences of relinquishing power are too ghastly for the ruling elite to fathom - since there is just too much at stake, with the fear of facing the consequences of their corruption and brutal massacres, and prospects of life off the gravy train.

They would rather be perceived as a pariah regime that retained power by rigging elections - than the alternative.

Of course, we should always keep our minds open to the impossible actually taking place. Then, there is need for option 3.

3. What if ZEC were to actually announce Nelson Chamisa and his CCC winners of the presidential elections?

That is something unlikely to happen - even in our wildest dreams, considering that ZEC's impartiality is already questionable.

Honestly, I find it very difficult to imagine Priscilla Chigumba or Utoile Silaigwana ever uttering the words, "Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change is duly elected President of the Republic of Zimbabwe".

That will be the day!

Nevertheless, if this 'one in a million' event was actually to occur, then what will be the most likely outcome?

Remember, we have already ascertained that ZANU PF would never willingly let go their grip on power - as there is just too much for them to lose, and they cannot bear even thinking about this possibility - and, are prepared to hold on, by hook or by crook.

As such, what will be the most likely response of the ZANU PF regime - mired in the might of the military complex?

These are the same people who had no qualms at all toppling their own leader, and founding father of post-independence Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe - simply because then vice president Mnangagwa, who had envisioned himself as succeeding his long-time mentor, had been unceremoniously fired from his position, and sacked from the party.

They staged the November 2017 military coup d'├ętat under the twin pretext of 'removing thieves surrounding Mugabe', and 'restoring the liberation struggle legacy' (thus, the code name, 'Operation Restore Legacy') - which they accused the younger G40 (Generation 40) faction, fronted by Mugabe's wife Grace, of disrespecting.

What, then, will these same people do when someone or a political entity - whom they had smeared, for two decades, as a US-sponsored project, whose main agenda is the recolonization of Zimbabwe (giving rise to the 'Zimbabwe will never be a colony again' slogan) - if ever, in a 'one in a million' chance, ZEC proclaimed them the country's new leaders?

We can only imagine the prospects!

For me, I see the ZEC command center, usually at the Rainbow Towers, being swiftly encircled by military tanks - in another operation, this time around, to ostensibly 'defend the country's independence and sovereignty from foreign occupation, through their proxies'.

The 2017 military coup d'etat set a very dangerous precedence - and, its real legacy will only be felt and witnessed in the future.

In all these various scenarios that I have so gloomily painted - I am not, in any way, trying to dissuade Zimbabweans from voting or believing that change is possible

No, not at all!

We - the people, the electorate - need to be the ones ready to protect our vote, should we seriously desire our voices, made through the ballot box, be respected and honored.

It is an utterly pointless exercise registering to vote, gladly going in our droves to cast our ballots - yet, not ready to ensure that the outcome is respected.

Yet, why am I not filled with any optimism that this is something we will do?

Tragically, we are the same people who have not been willing to stand up against this regime - throughout the decades of misrule, and massive looting of our national resources - which resulted in our indescribable poverty and suffering.

The opposition's own senior leaders and legislators, as Job Sikhala, have been languishing in prison, due to being repeatedly denied bail on spurious reasons, for months.

Yet, in all this we simply choose to go about our daily routines as if all was normal.

We were not even prepared to engage in some of the most peaceful and unconfrontational methods of expressing our disgruntlement and outrage - such as national strikes, shutdowns, or stay-aways.

So, how on earth will anyone expect us to defend our votes - especially, in the event of ZANU PF resorting to options 2 or 3?

What I find more disturbing is that the ruling establishment are all too aware of our weakness, and will not hesitate to take full advantage.

The international community is weary of Zimbabwe's issues - and, expecting them to intervene and come to our rescue is just wishful thinking, and quite frankly foolhardy,  

The world now has bigger issues on its plate - for instance, Russia's invasion of Ukraine (which does not appear to be abating or ending any time soon), and their own post-COVID economic challenges.

Any hope for real change in Zimbabwe is firmly in the hands of Zimbabweans themselves - and, if we are unwilling to take the bull by its horns, then there is only one outcome.

The ZANU PF regime is not going anywhere, any time soon.

That is the brutal truth!

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.