It is with due respect to the men and women who have been in the trenches fighting the tyrannical oligarchy that has run our country for the past 34 years that I offer the advice contained in this article.
It is indeed with due respect for they are the ones that have braved the chilly climates of opposition politics in Zimbabwe while as they say, “the rest of us critique and analyse”. For that I give them their due respect.
However, if they will indulge a critic just this one more time I wish to express my concern over what seems to be a focus on the wrong agenda altogether as far as things stand at the moment – and I am not even referring to the current infighting and all manner of splits within the ranks of the opposition.
Without claiming all wisdom, it does help sometimes when you are too close to a problem to take a look at things from an outsider’s vantage point.
I am referring to the main battle at hand, that of ushering a new dawn. The moribund economy and related trade deficit, certainty and predictability around property rights, full implementation of the Constitution which has not seen the light of day, the restoration of international relations, all hinge on the one thing, the main game in town, that of a change of the government.
Who knows, one might even say, almost any change at all even if within Zanu PF itself might help. Mao’s Communist Party of China did transform China did it not?
Indeed the splits that the opposition are suffering or have suffered from are undesirable and serve to undo the main objective, but that aside, it is my contention that even where it matters most the opposition aren’t even in the game.
This game I’m referring to is far more pertinent than the splits even within Zanu PF itself in struggling to keep the sum of the parts whole.
These splits are an almost natural process of progression just like Zapu did in the early 60’s, they are like an evolutionary process and will revolve around policy, ethnicity, personality or what I would call diseconomies of scale.
Zanu PF even suffered the same fate at some point in time with the ill-fated Frolizi frost bite. What was important though is that even after the split the sum of the whole remained focused on removing the racist white minority regime that just had to go.
Apart from the 1979 Zimbabwe-Rhodesia internal settlement crowd, all components of the split were essentially focused on one goal only, the removal of the minority regime.
As things stand I am honestly not certain the opposition are indeed working the levers of change.
So what are the levers of change? Well let’s start with the voter’s roll, who of the opposition parties are currently engaged in the process of either pushing for, sourcing resources for or refining the voter’s roll and ensuring that come December 2017, save for a few minor adjustments, additions and subtractions here and there, there would indeed be an auditable electronic voters roll.
Who is unpacking the raft of excuses from the registrar general’s office?
What data or statistics have any of them gathered to show the shortcomings even of the hard copy version?
Of course we didn’t have time to do so around the last election, but it’s been what, 15 months since then? Will the 2018 election only matter a month before it happens? Sitting back and crying about an absent electronic voter’s roll in March 2018 is exactly that, a crying session, especially if you’ve seen the horror movie before. The English say once bitten twice shy.
Who among the opposition groups is currently engaged in pressuring whether via Parliament or regional blocs for the Diaspora vote? Yes, we have read somewhere that some groups favour the Diaspora vote.
The International Organisation for Migration estimates the number of Zimbabweans living outside the country in the millions, two to three million in South Africa, as many as half a million in the UK and as well as many others scattered around the world.
But the question is, what exactly are they doing about it? You know very well the excuse will be about money.
Are you currently trying to source funding somewhere on the continent to ensure that a significant chunk of your population remains entitled to their inalienable right?
Indeed have you spoken to the Diaspora and asked them if they would be prepared to raise the funding required voluntarily to facilitate their registration and subsequently voting?
Yes, the State must usually pay for it through taxes, but we know very well they will say it again and again that they have no money for it. Where is the Diaspora fund to pre-emptively neutralise this now used up excuse?
There is some noise about the possible boycotting of elections by some. Really, to what end? In my view, you must at least earn the right to boycott by demonstrating what it is you’ve tried to do to correct the situation and then failed due to the intransigence of the other party other than mere statements and sound bites.
Indeed if these key issues resolutely remained a focal point of the opposition groups, we may well avert the various divisions that appear to manifest themselves perennially.
Was it not when King David in the Bible decided that he would now retire from his usual practice of leading his troops into battle and rather run the charge by remote control from his palace that he lost his way? Unless something changes soon, the opposition appear to be playing a ball that has gone completely out of play, or playing each other.
Lovemore Fuyane is a Zimbabwean and writes from South Africa in a personal capacity.