Home » Governance » Why Tsvangirai-Led Opposition Has Lost Its Bite

FORMED as the country’s economic problems started to worsen in 1999, the MDC presented the best alternative for a bungling Zanu PF which was already battling to stem the effects of its decision to volunteer troops to the DRC and the unplanned Z$50,000 pay-outs to thousands of war veterans.

But even without a single seat going into the 2000 elections, the MDC had caused enough panic within a Zanu PF which resorted to the forced grabbing of white-owned land to pacify increasingly restless blacks who form the majority of the country’s population.

But with dozens of MPs now occupying parliamentary seats and running a few local authorities in the country, the MDC has ironically lost all its bite and now watches helplessly as managers in cities such as Harare impose unpopular decisions such as the prepaid water meters and unsanctioned purchases of luxury cars.

Observers say although the MDC was challenging a fully entrenched dictatorship under President Robert Mugabe’s government, they were still not showing enough enthusiasm to act different.

Rashweat Mukundu says the once popular 16-year-old opposition has lost its way and was now behaving like the ruling party.

“The challenge with the Zimbabwe opposition is that it has failed to remain true to its founding principles which were the manner in which politics or governance is being done in Zimbabwe,” said the Harare based analyst.

Becoming Zanu PF

“What we have seen over the years is an imitation by the opposition of the Zanu PF way of doing things.

“Instead of changing the culture of politics, the opposition has actually been changed to think and act like the ruling elite.

“We had the MDC in the GNU almost in the manner of talking, walking, driving and dressing the Zanu PF way.

“In that sense, their moral authority and their capital to challenge the status quo is then diminished.”

Mukundu says MDC-T councillors had become corrupt and were now “gallivanting in hotels and lodges purportedly planning residents’ issues.”

Similarly, Wellington Zindi, another Harare-based analyst, blames the opposition for what he says was its conception of power based on the number of MPs belonging to a party.

“The opposition still thinks the more they are in parliament, the better they can perform but evidence on the ground points to the contrary. Even when they were at their peak in parliament, they could not push meaningful reforms.

“It’s like someone who wakes up after winning the lottery but having no idea on how they are going to use that money.

“The opposition lacks clarity of purpose in terms of what they want to achieve a clear three point of plan.”

No clear ideology

Zindi says the MDC was struggling to develop an ideology which has seen it lose in successive polls to Zanu PF.

To prove the opposition does not necessarily require a huge parliamentary presence to be an effective alternative to the ruling party, Zindi draws comparisons with Julius Malema Economic Freedom Fighters which has a few MPs in South Africa’s parliament but makes relevant noises around a clear objective of what they are fighting for.

“Even with the current 70 MPs, we don’t hear or even understand what the MDC is really pushing for,” he says.

But MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu feels his party was being unfairly criticised by those who do not appreciate the hardships it was going through in trying to unseat what he says was a brutal Zanu PF regime.

“People should appreciate that a peaceful and democratic struggle against a deeply entrenched and brutal dictatorship like the Zanu PF regime was never going to be a sprint but a marathon,” Gutu says.

“If you look cumulatively at the amount of democratic space that we have created in this country ever since the formation of the party in 1999, it’s close to being spectacular, without firing a single bullet.

“History will judge us very favourably.”

Source : New Zimbabwe