By Dr. Masimba Mavaza | In the upcoming 2023 elections in Zimbabwe, it is evident that the opposition parties have failed to provide a credible alternative to the ruling ZANU PF party. The absence of a strong and competent opposition has become a significant hurdle, making it unlikely that a proper opposition will emerge before the August 23, 2023 election date.
Throughout the world, it is often the incumbent government that loses elections rather than the opposition winning them. Merely pointing out the flaws of the ruling party is insufficient for the opposition to secure victory. They must prove their competency and pass a basic test to be considered for office. Unfortunately, no party in Zimbabwe currently resembles a credible opposition or a government in waiting.
The largest opposition party, CCC (Constitutional Crisis Coalition), has failed to unite the people and faces a significant challenge in doing so. This absence of a strong opposition is particularly striking given the precarious position of the government. The ruling party has demonstrated its capability to unite the country and instill hope in the citizens.
When it comes to changing the party in power, it is less about a positive vote for the opposition and more about a negative vote against the governing party. In Zimbabwe, the people clearly understand that ZANU PF has maintained its hold on power through internal structures that safeguard the country’s democracy. This resolute independence has made ZANU PF a party worth voting for as it has shown its commitment to defending the principles that the people hold dear. Over the past five years, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has displayed the ability to defend the government through unity in the cabinet, instilling confidence in the citizens through his credibility, personality, and policy scrutiny.
The new dispensation has introduced significant changes, demonstrating that ZANU PF can bring fresh ideas and run effective campaigns against the opposition. It has also gained the support of both domestic and foreign media. The success of the new dispensation can be attributed to its effective media campaigns, developmental initiatives, and the elevation of Zimbabwe to a middle-income economy. On the other hand, the CCC politicians are well aware that their party will not come into power until the electorate becomes disillusioned with the government and decides to vote them out. Consequently, they resort to sabotaging the country in hopes of inciting rebellion among the population.
In light of these factors, it is clear that the CCC is ill-prepared to win the election because Zimbabweans are not yet sufficiently dissatisfied with President Mnangagwa and ZANU PF to vote them out. The CCC must patiently wait until enough people are unhappy with ZANU PF. Changing the party in power after just one term is a daunting task, as the incumbent holds the advantage unless a majority of voters become disenchanted. It is unlikely that President Mnangagwa can be removed from office before 2028, as he has assembled a strong cabinet and front bench team that is politically aligned with him.
Unfortunately, the challenges facing the opposition extend beyond the CCC. Mwonzora’s MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) has also failed to fulfill its role as a proper opposition. The formation of the CCC has thrown the opposition into disarray. The leadership contest within the MDC was marred by farcical proceedings, barring the most credible candidates for procedural reasons. The reluctant winner, Mwonzora, has been vocal but largely inactive. The situation escalated into violence during an MDC meeting, further deepening the disarray. Komichi, the leadership frontrunner, and Mudzuri have since left the party, stating that it is in a ‘death spiral’. The opposition’s financial constraints have also hindered it.