OPPOSITION political parties in Zimbabwe, especially the various MDC formations, are a disappointing lot that have continued to let the people down and the struggle for a just, democratic Zimbabwe.
Instead of focussing on mobilising people on issues affecting them they have continued to major on minor things and in effect have taken opposition politics back to the mid-90s.
They have become a microcosmic of Zanu PF only that they are a lot weaker since they do not enjoy incumbency and the support of coercive structures of the State such as the army, police and intelligence forces.
I would like to point out several factors that have weakened the opposition and continue to weaken opposition parties especially the various MDC’s.
The foremost reason why opposition parties have and will fail is their failure to unite as pointed out by Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa.
The fact is the opposition will never win elections unless they form a formidable united front capable of challenging and defeating Zanu PF.
The only way the opposition can unseat Zanu PF in the next elections is by forming a formidable issue-based united democratic front which has segments of progressive breakaway Zanu PF members and a whole lot of new leaders between the ages of 25 to 50.
This united democratic front should be inclusive the MDC–T, MDC-Renewal team, MDC Green, NCA and Zapu as well as progressive individuals and institutions.
I do not agree with many antics of the MDC–T including blatant blundering by their leader Morgan Tsvangirai and cases of violence, intimidation within their party, but the fact is a united front without Tsvangirai and his party will be very weak.
Likewise a united front without MDC-Renewal team and MDC Green will be very weak because the two parties have rich intellectual capital and political history, but questionable grassroots support.
Zapu would be crucial with it’s rich ideology and links with former and current members of the military establishment. No one should come into this united front thinking that they would be the automatic leader because it may actually be the best idea to choose somebody who is not even leading any of those parties to lead this new coalition so as to do away with all the history and excess baggage.
The MDC–T has let the people of Zimbabwe down by engaging in an exercise of political suicide by literally donating 21 seats to Zanu PF after expelling 21 MPs.
If the MDC–T decides not to contest in the by-elections it will be literally donating the seats to Zanu PF, hence, betraying the people by failing to defend democratic space that they gained through the 2013 elections.
If they participate they will confirm their status as perpetual flip-flops and masters of political acrobatics as a party that has no permanent position on anything and everything except being in perpetual opposition to anything and everything.
The recalling of the 21 will adversely affect any chances of a united opposition for the elections much to the joy of Zanu PF.
The UMDC is being affected by small mindlessness, personal interests and in some cases personal ambitions which override capacity.
This will lead to a weak and fragmented opposition. Obviously infiltration can never be ruled out as it is expected in politics in any country.
To enter into the rough domain of African politics and not expect infiltration would be the height of political naÏvety, hence, opposition parties need sound intelligence infrastructure and stratagem built into their systems in order to deal with this ever present threat.
A number of opposition members of Parliament have established themselves as Missing Persons (MPs) both in their constituencies and in Parliament. Nauseatingly they enjoy being called “honourables”without understanding the first thing about being honourable.
My late uncle Sihambile Jeqe Stephen Nkomo was an MP for over 20 years and I don’t remember him even once wanting to be called honourable unlike this undeserving horde of MPs who have failed to hold constituency feedback meetings for the their constituents to hear grievances or to give feedback on parliamentary proceedings.
Some have failed to visit their constituencies and a vast majority have decided to be virtually non-speaking, non-acting legislators in Parliament.
This is unlike the days of Micah Bhebhe, Sidney Malunga, Byron Hove, Edward Ndlovu and Lazarus Nzarayabani who gave ministers a tough time in parliament even though there were only one or two news outlets at the time.
There are exceptions of course like Jesse Majome and few others, but most have failed to represent the people in Parliament.
Times have changed and we need leaders who can engage the public on issues by taking ideas onto public platforms.
Dumisani Nkomo is an activist, social entrepreneur and chief executive officer of Habakkuk Trust. He writes in his personal capacity.