POLITICAL analysts have warned that it is highly risky for the opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) led by Nelson Chamisa to withdraw from Parliament and local authorities at this stage despite continued repression because they are dealing with a Zanu-PF regime that has a seriously underdeveloped sense of shame and a hardened leadership brewed in the armed struggle.
Those advocating for total withdrawal of CCC from Parliament and councils argue that such a move will cause a constitutional crisis that might attract global attention and pile pressure on the government to reform and stop its undemocratic onslaught on the opposition.
However, University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said Zanu-PF will not be bothered even though it could be embarrassed in the face of its allied ruling parties in regional countries such as South Africa, Mozambique and Angola. Masunungure averred that withdrawal of CCC will not cause a constitutional crisis.
“I think it is important to be clear and not delude ourselves. The withdrawal of CCC MPs will not cause a constitutional crisis of any kind. It may cause embarrassment to the ruling party and its leaders, especially in relations with other parties in the region and beyond. My sense is that Zanu-PF would not in the least be bothered by the en-masse withdrawals; it may even celebrate such an outcome, given that there will be no critical voice to speak truth to power in Parliament. They are apt to say, zvakanaka zvakadaro [It is fine as it is],” Masunungure said.
“This arises from the sad fact that Zanu-PF and its regime have an underdeveloped sense of shame and are not even likely to feel embarrassment. It is when your target audience has a highly developed sense of shame that you can work on their conscience to produce a desired result,” he said, adding:
“In the Zimbabwe context under a hardened leadership brewed in the armed struggle, I can hardly see any distinct advantages going the CCC way but a bumper harvest of disadvantages. The first is that Zanu-PF will not feel it in terms of conducting parliamentary business. It will be business as usual.”
Masunungure also highlighted that the Southern African Development Community will unlikely intervene even if CCC were to withdraw from Parliament in total, given the stance it took on the elections which it deemed to have failed to meet its principles on free and fair polls. He added that an instruction for withdrawal of CCC legislators could again divide the party.
“The third disadvantage is that the withdrawal will trigger enormous tension, resistance and even instigate a split within CCC circles. In the context of the politics of eating, withdrawal would mean not eating for many CCC families who will exert irresistible pressure on
MPs to go back to where they were elected to be.
“It must be remembered that many CCC MPs mobilised their own meagre resources for the campaign and, having arrived, it is unfathomable to surrender the seat just like that. This is especially so, given that not attending a minimum number of sittings will trigger automatic expulsion.
“In short, withdrawal is highly risky for the CCC party; there are far more costs than benefits, not least because they are dealing with a party and a regime that has a seriously underdeveloped sense of shame,” said Masunungure.
Professor of World politics at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies Stephen Chan also warned against withdrawal of CCC from Parliament.
“If the CCC withdraws from Parliament, it will have no focal point for opposition. Taking to the streets has not worked in the past. That would simply give the security forces a reason to arrest and detain for lengthy periods more members of the CCC seniority.
“There is certainly a campaign to remove or seriously diminish any CCC representation in Parliament, precisely so that Zanu-PF can easily pass any legislation it pleases and prepare to change the constitution. For that reason, the CCC must fight tooth and nail to remain in Parliament,” he said.
Political analyst Vivid Gwede also expressed doubt on the prospects of a strong impact in Zimbabwe’s politics of a CCC withdrawal from Parliament.
“There is no doubt that the Parliament as an institution and the opposition’s participation in it have been effectively weakened as well as the ability of both to give checks and balances on the executive. Emerging from the 2023 harmonised elections, Zanu-PF did not have a two-thirds majority which it has now gained through controversial by-elections. This may constitute a strong reason for disengagement, but CCC will have to have a back-up strategy.
Without that, it may be prudent not to cede further political space to the ruling party,” he said.
Gwede said without boycotting Parliament, the CCC needs a strategy to challenge Zanu-PF in and outside the august House.
“If CCC withdrew from Parliament, it would also have to consider pulling out of local government. The advantage is that this will send a strong political statement regarding the political crisis and closure of democratic space to Zimbaweans and the international community, including Sadc whose observer mission found fault with the elections. Remember, when Tsvangirai boycotted the 2008 run-off elections it created a crisis that necessitated mediation.
“But if Zanu-PF digs in and replaces the MPs and they are no strong interventions, it could mean its entrenchment in power without further pushbacks, albeit with a deepened legitimacy crisis. The opposition will have to work harder to survive,” he said.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu however insisted that CCC must completely withdraw from Parliament.
“I think it is to repeat the same message that the CCC has no business in this Parliament. And the latest incident of the attacks and violent ejection from Parliament of CCC members by the police is a clear indication that Zanu has no regard for opposition politics, or even decent political contestation within the law. They are bent on destroying the opposition and creating a one-party state and as long as CCC thinks that remaining in Parliament adds any value to the democratisation struggle, then they will continue suffering this humiliation.
“The CCC must go back to the drawing board and engage civil society, churches, students, labour, business. Engage everyone towards the agenda of keeping Zimbabwe as a democracy. This cannot be achieved if done in institutions that are run by Zanu-PF. They need to get out and establish a much broader-based political struggle that includes exercising their constitutional right to protest. This cannot be done when they think they can change anything by remaining in Parliament,” he said.
Mukundu said change is not going to be achieved by being timid and considerate of personal welfare and safety.
“If CCC thinks that it needs to protest, it is within its constitutional right to do so. The constitution of Zimbabwe allows people to protest against things they are not happy with and protesting is not revolting. It’s expressing concern and bringing attention to issues that need redress.
“If CCC wants to change governance issues and wants to be in power in a safe mode, in consideration of comfort then, unfortunately, that is not going to happen.
Change when dealing with Zanu-PF means that we have to be more aggressive and confrontational. Without that, you are just wasting your time. Unfortunately, that is the mode in which CCC has entered, where they think power will be handed on a silver platter. It is not going to happen,” he said.
Source – newshawks