Dig into Mujuru’s Manifesto – How strategic is it as an entry point into Zimbabwe’s political landscape?

The release of Mai Mujuru’s manifesto in the media has brought mixed feelings on whether she is a serious contender in the 2018 harmonized elections or not. To some she is a symbol of hope, to others she is a threat, whilst some feel she will be a leader of political parties which are not taken seriously.\r\n\r\nBy George Makoni

Former Vice President Joice Mujuru\r\n
Former Vice President Joice Mujuru

The analysis is ranging from the timing of the release of the manifesto, whether it is timely, a bit early or rather late. The contents of the manifesto were also put under the microscope with those who are opposed to the neo-liberal policies lampooning the document.\r\n\r\nThose who believe in the policies see the People First outfit as the salvation to the suffering masses of Zimbabwe. Some have hailed the document on the basis of clarity on its unwavering neo-liberal stance.\r\n\r\nSome however feel that it is just a document crafted by technocrats who are aware of what could be appealing, as an alternative to the ZANU PF failed Economic Blue Print, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social and Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET).\r\n\r\nThis article will dwell on none of the mentioned issues, instead it will deal with issues to do with Mai Majuru and her People First’s entrance on the political fray.\r\n\r\nIs it the most strategic way to do so? Has she not jumped other stages and what is the best way forward for her to make an impact on Zimbabwe’s political scene in the next harmonized elections slated for 2018.\r\n\r\nMy arguments are driven by the participatory development approach and also effective strategies that can be made use of by the opposition to dislodge a totalitarian regime.\r\n\r\nAs a starting point, the manifesto should come from the people. It is not proper for them to wake up one day to the news that, there is now a new manifesto.\r\n\r\nIt is more ideal and appealing to the electorate for the political party to start with building structures at grassroots up to provincial level ,engage critical stakeholders such as students, youths, women’s groups, labor, people living with disabilities, to mention a few and finally a congress which ushers in national leadership.\r\n\r\nHaving done all that donkey work blue-prints and other documents are easily welcome by the targeted party supporters, members and sympathizers. The participatory approach from the onset is the best results oriented strategy.\r\n\r\nOne might argue that the former vice president is already rooted in the masses, given her experience in ZANU PF and also the fact that she had the support of ninety percent of the chairpersons in the political provinces. In this regard, the principle of ensuring a total buy-in from the masses remains very crucial.\r\n\r\nI find this to be the same challenge which Dr Simba Makoni faced in launching his Mavambo Kusile Dawn Project which did not have the impact which he would have liked at its formation in 2008. He only got a paltry 8 percent out of the total votes.\r\n\r\nThis is despite the fact that Simba Makoni was preferred as a presidential candidate from within and outside ZANU PF. The manner in which he ushered in his party to the public was very unstrategic and he stood as an independent candidate.\r\n\r\nPresident Mugabe had a field day on him on his birthday bash which was later held at Dulibadzimu Stadium in Beitbridge.\r\n\r\nHis question to Dr Makoni was, ”who sent you to stand as president?” He went on to ask if he had the mandate of his girlfriends. He ended up being a laughing stock and not taken seriously as it drained him of some of his political capital.\r\n\r\nThe first impression counts in politics, just like a dating a fiancée ,nonetheless Dr Mujuru etal still has the chance to solve these challenge by simply going to the people.\r\n\r\nIt becomes easy to answer the question which Dr Makoni failed to answer pertaining who had sent him. A movement which is rooted into the masses is solid and will provide a formidable challenge against a totalitarian regime. It is part of the sophistication which is required when one is fighting an authoritarian regime.\r\n\r\nAnother important determinant of how effective the People First outfit will be in dislodging the ZANU PF government centres on how they are also going to collaborate with other opposition forces, particularly MDC-T.\r\n\r\nHonestly if these forces go for the 2018 polls separately ZANU PF is going to obtain yet another “resounding victory”. Obviously the multi-million dollar question will be,”who will be the captain of the ship?”Leaders of political parties normally do not want to compromise their egos on such issues.\r\n\r\nEqually dangerous are the position holders, just below party leaders. They are so comfortable with their positions so much, so that they do not want any inconviences/threats to do with their positions.\r\n\r\nThis becomes extremely tricky and can even result in disgruntlements and splits, which is not conducive for a formidable opposition in the next harmonized elections. ”This can only be achievable if the will to transform outweighs the will to power.”\r\nA combination of Mai Mujuru’s sympathizers and supporters, together with Tsvangirai’s will certainly provide a huge challenge to ZANU PF. What I find very prominent amongst my colleagues in their diverse affiliations and backgrounds is a dilemma on who to follow between the two opposition leaders in question.\r\n\r\nDr Pedzisai Ruhanya (2015) argues that, in order to dislodge Mugabe in 2018, the opposition forces need, even the vote of a reptile. This also brings all interested opposition parties, to avoid the waste of any vote.\r\n\r\nGiven the history of manipulating votes by ZANU PF, the only way to cushion the opposition from such an electoral malpractice, every vote will count.\r\n\r\nThis is not Mai Mujuru’s baby, but all the concerned leaders within the opposition forces. Failure to have such a spirit will certainly propel the ZANU Regime for the next five years.\r\nGeorge Makoni writes in his capacity and can be contacted onchiefmakoni@gmail.com