The Zimbabwean 2018 General Elections are coming, and there have been calls from some quarters for the fragmented opposition parties to join forces to form a grand coalition that can work to oust ZANU (PF). Whilst this is a noble call, there are some realities that need to be acknowledged and addressed.
Without any detailed polling, the biggest risk in 2018 would be that none of the opposition or ZANU (PF) wins more than 49% of the popular vote. Instead, the votes are fragmented across all the parties with ZANU (PF) holding the bulk. The result, opposition parties desperately scrabbling to form a coherent coalition, but the tenets of this relationship are not thoroughly thought through.
One of the biggest issues we have observed with the current crop of Zimbabwean opposition parties is that the majority are partaking in what can only be described as survival politics.
What this means is that they are desperate to get power but, have been unable to provide a clear path as to exactly what they will do with that power once they attain it. In other words, there appears to be no real plan.
Lastly, previous and current attempts to create a coalition have seemingly faltered or fizzled in the face of personal egos. Instead of focussing on the No.1 objective of the 2018 election – Removing ZANU (PF), some opposition leaders appear to be more intent on being appropriately politically positioned in any coalition that they join. This loss of focus on the objective is not only detrimental to them but also to their constituents.
The point raised by @CitizenZW on Twitter is a valid point but it does no go far enough. The opposition parties need to put their money where their mouth is and draw a line in the sand. What do they stand for and what does any coalition they are party to stand for?
A possible solution is that those who are proposing the formation of a coalition must also provide a clear mission for that coalition. The entire lifecycle and objective of the relationship must be outlined in as transparent a manner as possible. It is not enough to just want an opposition coalition. What the people need to know is what is the coalition going to be doing once ZANU is gone.
Below we outline a suggestion of the kind of unambiguous approach we would like to see from any serious grand coalition.
Objective 1a: The removal of ZANU (PF) as the ruling party and government of Zimbabwe via the general election of 2018
Objective 1b: Create an environment where truly free and fair elections can be conducted.
The coalition government will push for a transitional term in office of no more than 4 years with the next elections being announced at the end of year 1. Permission for campaign rallies will not be granted more than 6 months before the next general election to ensure focus on the business of government.
During the coalition government’s 3.5 yrs in office, the following could be some of the objectives that would be delivered:
- Give the vote to Zimbabweans in the diaspora
- Cleanse the civil service of party politics, remove the incestuous relationship that currently exists between government and party politics
- Enact the full constitution whilst reviewing and limiting the powers of the president.
- Re-instate the true purpose of the judiciary, which is to ensure all arms of government operate within the law.
- Introducing transparency of recent and future government expenditure.
- Lifting the bulk of restrictions on the Press both foreign and local.
- Reviewing the number and purpose of government parastatals and merging, selling or dissolving as required.
- Investigating means by which a new Zimbabwean-dollar can be created.
- Prepare for new elections under international observation – create a level playing field.
- Reducing the size of central government and overall government expenditure from the presidents’ office downward.
All of this, however, requires forward planning and thinking and our concern from observations is that none of the opposition leaders appears to are willing to gamble for the benefit of the people. We can only hope to be proved wrong in the coming weeks and months.