If we look back at 2016, a number of by-elections were held in Chimanimani West, Guruve and Norton, but MDC-T and Zim-PF didn't take part in all of them, and there was little violence, if any, compared to what was witnessed in Bikita West recently.
However, Bikita West probably is the last by-election before the 2018 general election and we wonder if the opposition, especially MDC-T has drawn any lessons from it.
For starters how did Zim-PF end up with a candidate in Bikita West, when initially they boycotted the preceding elections in 2016 citing lack of election reforms? Zim-PF spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire, was on record saying his party subscribes to National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), priciples and as a signitory would not take part in any election until there are election reforms.
He surprised many observers when he professed ignorance that, Zim-PF has a candidate in Bikita West, but surprisingly Kudakwashe Gopo was already campaigning on a Zim-PF ticket. So, who is fooling who here? Does MDC-T still have trust in such a party that has displayed that it is hypocritically ingenuous?
Zim-PF is throwing the blame squarely on Colonel Claudias Makova 's feet, claiming that he is the one who fielded Gopo without the party's consent. Are they trying to tell us that, in Zim-PF anyone can do whatever he or she pleases and get away with it without any reprimand? If so, then MDC-T should brace for numerous instances like this in the near future. In other words it can mean that after signing the grand coalition, and before the ink even dries on the paper, Makova might wake up appointing a new Zim-PF president with no ties with MDC and other signitories at all.
What my colleagues in MDC-T should remember is, Zanu-PF can employ every stratagem in the book to win the elections through hook and crook.
Bikita West by election should provide lessons to all the opposition parties in Zimbabwe, yearning to jump in bed with Joice Mujuru through the so called coalition.
However, that seems not the case, because every party is willing to do business with Mujuru. Recently, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) executive member, Percy Siwela, claimed that the proposed grand coalition of opposition parties is bound to collapse if it does not include secessionist parties.
"These national parties forget that we the restorationists parties command the majority support in Matabeleland," he said. This was after Morgan Tsvangirai indicated that his party was only prepared to accomodate Welshman Ncube's MDC and Joice Mujuru's Zim-PF, and describing smaller political parties as "briefcase.
Zanu-PF is quite aware that opposition leaders are victims of delusion of grandeur, so the idea of cherry picking coalition partners basing on their importance in the political arena, will not only widens their rift and hatred but will also influence 2018 outcome, so the coalition remains on its (Zanu-PF) top agenda.
What these smaller parties fail to realise is that both Tsvangirai and Mujuru have been in politics for too long and they have nothing to show of it. They no longer have the political clout they used to have a few years ago. In fact, have overstayed their welcome, and are now past their sell by dates. They both have a battered political background and a dwindling support.
The run up to the Bikita West by-election was characterised by intimidation, vote buying and violence that saw National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) candidate, Madock Chivasa, and his campaigning manager sustaining injuries, but Zim-PF supporters came out unscathed save for one small incident in Hozvi, where Gopo 's election agents had a skirmish with Zanu-PF youths. The question our colleagues should be asking right now is; Is Zim-PF not one of those pseudo-parties brought in by Zanu PF as decoys to hoodwink a gullible opposition?
Mavambo/Kusile/ Dawn (MKD) would certainly spring to mind. Zanu-PF used the project to snatch 8% votes right under MDC-T's nose, denying them an absolute majority of the electoral votes to bury Zanu PF.
This time around Zim-PF is the new MDK and Zanu-PF is behind all its operations. The violence in Bikita West was not a traditional Zanu-PF campaign strategy, but the state machinery is invisibly arm twisting the opposition into falling for a grand coalition.
If violence was their long-established method of doing things, they could have unleashed it in other by-elections prior to the Bikita West by-election, but because they know it is more likely that it was the last by-election in what is regarded as a stronghold of the opposition before 2018 general elections, they wanted the opposition to make up their minds about the grand coalition.
They are using their dexterity to make them feel they need each other in 2018 in order to dislodge Zanu-PF, and are sure that would bring back the 2013 euphoria that saw MDC-T falling by the way side.
They know that they have no choice and will opt to coalesce because most of them are financially bankrupt, riddled by fragmentation and internal power struggles making them susceptible to infiltration.
A few weeks ago the media went into overdrive describing how Tsvangirai dumped Mujuru, but before the dust settled he is asserting that he would form a coalition with Mujuru despite her party's hiding in Bikita West. He even hinted Zanu PF's to slow down on "premature celebrations."
Tendai Biti, the leader of the the People' Democratic Party (PDP), whose party seemed reluctant to join the coalition quickly weighed in and said going at it alone only works to keep the "dictatorial" president in office as the opposition vote will be too fragmented to effect a change of government.
He went further to say his party resolved to ensure a grand coalition agreement is put in place in the next few weeks to bring about a democratic change in 2018 and bring down the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.
At this rate by the end of next month every party would be in the coalition. However, it's not a question of being in the coalition but the organisation and effectiveness of it in a bid to oust Mugabe. I bet my bottom dollar, the coalition won't last until 2018 because some will be in it with a different agenda altogether.
On the other hand, I feel the exaggerated feeling of physical and mental well-being, especially when not justified by external reality, which is already creeping in the opposition, and some tomfoolery behaviour on social media should stop henceforth.
Obert Chaurura Gutu, MDC-T Information & Publicity secretary, recently took to his Facebook page and posted something like this:
"BREAKING NEWS !! For strategic reasons,I cannot disclose how,exactly,we have successfully managed to unravel and dismantle the Zanu PF regime rigging machinery but let me boldly announce,here and now,that the crumbling and faction - ridden Zanu PF regime won't be able to rig the 2018 elections.
Let us all go and register to vote when the ZEC biometric voter registration (BVR) program kicks off in March 2017."
Well, I won't force my learned brother to prematurely devulge how his party managed to do that, but I just hope they won't be crying foul come 2018. Unless, for once they leave this kindergarten behaviour and focus on feasible plans to dislodge Zanu-PF from power, I foresee them becoming the next victim of circumscribed electoral politics in 2018.
I doubt if MDC-T has any strategy if it is still doing business with such a disingenuous party like Zim-PF. Can't you see that Bikita West by-election was a multi-pronged ploy by Zanu-PF, to either persuade you to join forces with Zim-PF during campaigns and have both their efforts shattered to a million smithereens thereby badly tainting your political image in the process, or making you feel you have the bargaining power during coalition negotiations basing on the results, or worse still dragging you in Bikita West campaign resulting in a resounding victory by Zim-PF and leaving you with a mammoth task to reclaim it in 2018? I was shocked to hear Zim-PF elder Didymus Mutasa saying it has been proposed that we work with our colleagues in the MDC and have VaTsvangirai address the people of Bikita along with our president Joice Mujuru in a joint rally, to help drum up support for the Zim-PF candidate Kudakwashe Gopo.
Is this not the same Mutasa who once said Tsvangirai won the 2008 harmonised elections but instead of going to state house he ran away to Botswana? What is more mind boggling is that no one in Zim-PF bothered to explain to MDC-T or the public why they chose to participate in Bikita West by-election. Instead, they had the audacity to persuade MDC-T to help them drum up support for their candidate.
Just less than a month in late November, last year, scores were arrested around the country and several others injured during Nera demonstrations, in which Zim-PF took part, demanding electoral reforms, but before the dust settled they had a candidate in that sham by- election. After lying to people that Makova fielded a candidate against the party's will, they are exposing themselves by fielding another candidate in Mwenezi East.
Mujuru and Mutasa - can't you see you are exposing your double standards? Will I be wrong to say anyone can now safely conclude that Zim-PF is a Zanu-PF project? What had changed now that we don't know as an electorate ?
Maybe it skipped me. Did Zanu-PF succumb to Nera demands and ushered a new era with absolute electoral reforms while we were snoring in the comfort of our homes which made Zim-PF feel safe to participate in these by-elections? I wonder. MDC-T should thoroughly investigate Zim-PF before making any decisions to go to bed with it. In fact, they should turn it inside out if they are a real party trying to bring change to Zimbabwe, unless they are cut from the same cloth. Otherwise, this would no doubt mean Zanu-PF, with or without President Mugabe, will be in charge after 2018.
Garikai Mafirakureva is a Zimbabwean Journalist and an independent analyst. He writes in his own capacity. Feedback on email@example.com
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