For once and in a very long-time, opposition politicians and their political formations have done something commendable.
This is in reference to the signing of an election pact/alliances between and among some of the leading opposition political figures and their formations.
The pact comes on the back of a long history of divisions, squabbles and cat fights within the opposition movement in the country which had all but rendered the opposition a political skunk in the political zoo of the national politics.
Understandably, the developments have excited the media as well as social media savvy citizens and political party faithfuls across the opposition political spectrum. However, for this blogger excitement does not come easy, especially given the complexity of our political environment. In fact the developments have expanded the need for further interrogation and debate on the national question.
One question which begs for a sincere answer, is can an alliance/coalition of the opposition defeat Mugabe at the ballot in 2018? To most in media and political activists’ circles, the answer is a simple and loud YES!
However the truth of the matter is that, it is sadly not so.
While I contend that a united opposition will be a formidable force against Mugabe and his ZANU PF, it would be foolhardy to believe that this is the antidote to finally bringing down the dictatorship.
The unity of the opposition is a crucial first step along a very long and bumpy road to ending the entrenched dictatorship and birth a new society based on democracy, rule of law, constitutionalism and economic equality. This new society cannot be established simply by the signing of a well written document by heads of political parties. It requires a much more organic intervention.
This organic intervention demands that people must take the centre stage of the process to dismantle the Mugabe regime and constructing a radically different yet prosperous socio-economic order. In simple terms it calls for people power.
Therefore, the next big and urgent step is the mobilisation of the masses, listening to their voice and capturing their interests in the political processes towards 2018. This means that civic society, the church, the students union, labour, peasants and the generality of the working class poor must once again come together and interrogate the national question.
Another working people’s convention or whatever name such a process assumes is an urgent matter of national importance.
There is already a process underway being organised under the banner of the Citizen’s Manifesto which can and must be expanded, moreso in light of the emerging political realities that the opposition is heading towards a collective fight against the dictatorship in the 2018 elections.
For the political parties in the opposition, this means the political pact/alliance being worked out must be prepared to receive the voice of the people and in fact accept, for once, that politics is not just about power but about transforming ordinary people’s lives. This calls for humble and servant leadership which must connect with the people and accept their collective wisdom, as it would be reflected by their demands set out in a co-created manifesto, charter or whatever name such a set of demands would assume.
More importantly, it must dawn to the political players that the essence of liquidating Mugabe and his ZANU PF authoritarian oligarchs is for allowing a transition to occur in the country. It would be disastrous if the political parties forming and or intending to form a coalition think that after defeating Mugabe at polls, it is business as usual.
The people of Zimbabwe have gone through many traumatising moments which have left deep scars which now manifest in collective self hate, hopelessness, social decay, economic collapse, violence at all levels and the breakdown of individual psychological health.
The import of this state of affairs is that we must end the vicious circles of poverty, violence and neglect and replace them with the virtuous circles of economic equality, solidarity and peace. In simple terms Zimbabwe needs to move from the society Mugabe’s 37 years of dictatorial rule has bequeathed to a new society that respects the humanity of everyone.
For this to be a reality, a transition is necessary. Thus the political arrangement which the opposition must be working out is not one that will seeks to entrench any political party or a group thereof as the permanent rulers of this country but one that will open up the political landscape for our politics to be a politics of ideas and of the people’s interests.
Therefore one cardinal principle that must direct any coalition that would emerge from the memorandums being signed by the opposition is one that is cognisant of the fact that their government will be a transitional one.
Such an establishment will have to pursue the long outstanding task of aligning laws to the constitution, embarking on a sincere process of national healing, implement a programme of economic recovery, repatriate looted public resources, restore basic social service delivery, deal with the scourge of corruption among other urgent demands that will restore the dignity of ordinary Zimbabweans which Mugabe has brutally attacked for decades.
It is only after such a transitional process that fresh elections can then be held so that Zimbabweans can freely chose their leaders to take the country towards being a respected sovereign in the community of nations.
This is the imperative which this country needs and if the pacts/alliances being signed cannot deliver these, then it is apparent that theirs is not a project for national transformation but that of sharing the spoils of power. And if by any means this so, then it has no room in our politics.
In the final analysis, the coming together of the opposition is the first step of a thousand miles. If the big bold steps are not taken, then the dream of a new Zimbabwe being a product of this process as envisaged will remain a pipe dream
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- Election Pacts: A critical but insufficient first step - July 14, 2017