After the opposition MDC Alliance commemorated its 19th anniversary last Saturday, one hopes that there will be a lot of introspection on the part of its leadership and supporters about their perpetual failure to win majority support to form the next government.
There is serious need for the party to navel-gaze and reinvent itself as a credible opposition beyond the rhetorical pranks and antics of the party’s leader Nelson Chamisa.
The opposition is fond of opposing everything that Government is doing without proffering tangible alternatives to the national discourse.
In other countries, opposition parties do not bask in the glory of declaring themselves victors in election that they did now win. Rather, they take pride in their role in helping improve service delivery, enhance legislative framework, force the government to explain itself more clearly and to constructively criticise until such time as it may find itself in office.
But lost in his delusion of grandeur, Chamisa has exhibited a serious streak of being a control freak seeking to consolidate his hold on the fractious party.
No wonder last week Chamisa showed that he was still living in the past when he suggested the formation of what he termed a transitional authority, to mirror the past Government of National Unity.
It is instructive that President Mnangagwa swiftly called him to order by stating there is no vacancy in Government and any talk of a GNU is wishful thinking.
There is need for party supporters to sober up and disabuse themselves of the “rigging mantra” and critically examine how the party can reinvent itself from being a reactionary urban-based entity riding on people’s discontent to a truly national party reflective of the country’s demographic and geographic representation.
The MDC’s anniversary celebrations presented an opportunity for the rank and file to reflect on their loss at the July 30 and sober up to the reality that President Mnangagwa is now the sheriff in town.
The sooner they realise this, the better for them and for Zimbabwe. A look at South Africa may give the MDC Alliance an opportunity to appreciate how an effective opposition can build their brand by helping to expose scandals in Government.
Although it has its own weaknesses, Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Front can proudly speak about its record of having a key role in exposing the Jacob Zuma and Gupta scandals.
They showed that success for an opposition party is not just about being in Government but taking those in power to account, demanding answers and going all out to expose shenanigans of the incumbent leaders. The catch here is that for any modern opposition party, opposing alone is not enough but taking action is the way to go.
A recent Afrobarometer survey noted opposition parties in Southern Africa are not trusted because they are not seen as a viable alternative. This is so because instead of playing a watchdog role over Government, the opposition have the mistake of thinking that they are entitled to be in power.
In Chamisa’s MDC Alliance, this practise manifested after the death of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai after a wave of exuberant, boisterous and injudicious supporters riding on the hollow mantra of “generational consensus”. Many of these supporters were besotted by his youthful looks and his playful antics.
None ever stopped to think whether this youthful character had what it takes to run a country. Soon the party’s Vanguard group also got onto this imprudent fanaticism and savagely attacked anyone who dared challenge their leader. And as the election campaign moved into the top gear, the childish politician projected himself as God-sent. He became so cantankerous that some of his supporters had to hold their breaths each time he opened his mouth at rallies.
Chamisa and his people will continue to claim that they have tremendous support, but even hardcore MDC supporters are admitting the truth – that Chamisa stole defeat from the jaws of victory. The MDC thought they had everything they needed to finally assume power in Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately, they did not count on a candidate who alienated vast swathes of potential voters, showed himself so inept on the national and international stage and kept plunging from crisis to crisis during his short but error-laden leadership.
The fact that he lost to President Mnangagwa vindicates the thinking that his shallow mantra of generational consensus had failed to find traction despite the fact that more than half of Zimbabweans are under the age of 25.
At its birth in 1999, the MDC was a hotchpotch of individuals brought together by their common disdain for Mugabe’s rule and as was its consummation 19 years ago, the opposition party’s attempt at re-birth after Tsvangirai’s death was incongruous.
Its high time the opposition went back to the drawing board, review its strategies and make positive contributions to a better Zimbabwe and call the midwife for a proper rebirth. l This article was supported by the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe to explore the theme “MDC Alliance rigged itself in the 2018 harmonised elections.”
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