Opposition coalition lacks critical mass appeal

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai

The opposition has been making noise in recent months about a possible coalition to challenge Zanu-PF in next year’s elections.  

This week, three of them signed memoranda of understanding, what they deem their first concrete step towards the electoral alliance.  On Wednesday, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC-T leader and Dr Joice Mujuru of the National People’s Party signed the agreement, before the former signed his second with MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube a day later.

We might see more of the same in the next few weeks. Judging from the mood in the party and what its leadership has been saying in response, Zanu-PF does not feel threatened by the activity in opposition ranks.

“They have tried this and that, been together, they split again, they talk of coalitions,” President Mugabe said early this month while addressing a Zanu-PF Central Committee meeting in Harare.

“We shall make them talk all kinds of languages that is what Zanu-PF is capable of doing when we are united and doing our own thing.  We look with glee, we look with joy as they daily turn on each other, while pretending to chase a mirage they have termed grand coalition, apparently unaware of the grand defeat that stares them in the face.”

Earlier in his 93rd birthday interview with national broadcaster, ZBCtv the President likened the opposition parties to zeroes saying even if one comes up with piles upon piles of them, they will never add up to anything more than a zero.  What he was saying was that even if all the opposition parties came together, their efforts will amount to nothing politically.

His confidence, which no doubt is shared by the rank and file in the revolutionary party, is richly deserved.  This is a party that has a history of liberating this country politically 37 years ago.  If Zanu-PF had ended there and folded its arms basking in old glory, coalitions like the one Mr Tsvangirai et al are working on could have posed an electoral threat to the party. Instead, Zanu-PF has continued to show that it is a party that is relevant to the contemporary aspirations of the people.  It has gone further than delivering political independence and is now delivering economic independence to the people and democracy in its more meaningful, genuine sense.

It is a party that is rightly beholden to the electorate and does not waste its time wanting to please foreigners. Zanu-PF has a record of implementing policies and programmes that put the people at the centre of all its work. In politics that is all that matters.

Over the past 17 years, the party has undertaken the land reform programme, compulsorily acquiring at least 11 million hectares of land that, for decades, had been in the hands of a minority, white farmers. Up to 380 000 formerly landless blacks replaced the 4 500 whites. This liberation of the land constitutes probably the biggest broad-based empowerment programme the world has ever seen.  In addition to reclaiming the land and redistributing it to its rightful owners, successive Zanu-PF governments have been spending millions capacitating the new farmers to boost their capacity to maximally utilise their newly-acquired land.

Last year, the Government introduced the command agriculture scheme under which it is supporting tens of thousands of growers.

Another people-centred programme that Zanu-PF came up with is the economic indigenisation and empowerment programme that focuses on other facets of the economy other than agricultural land. This one says that any foreign-owned business involved in the exploitation of natural resources in the country must sell 51 percent of its shareholding to indigenous blacks. It also limits foreign involvement in some sectors of the economy that are not necessarily extractive.

The indigenisation and economic empowerment drive also entails the creation of community share ownership trusts which have seen mines building infrastructure and investing in social programmes in the communities from which they extract various minerals. Tens of thousands of people are benefiting from this Zanu-PF-initiated programme.

The ruling party has over the past 37 years scored huge successes in educating the masses, making health services and facilities available as well as giving the people their dignity that they had been deprived of during the years of colonialism. Zimbabweans are indeed some of the world’s most proud and confident people who can stand toe to toe with anyone, even Westerners who some nationals in the developing world kowtow to.  Zanu-PF has taught them to stand tall and not be afraid of anyone.

It indeed is a full spectrum of positives that Zimbabwe has been getting from Zanu-PF since Independence which the opposition actually want to reverse.

For these and more Zanu-PF pro-people policies and programmes, Mr Tsvangirai and his colleagues will, as President Mugabe said, continue coming up with alliances that will lack the critical mass appeal.