MDC leader Douglas Mwonzora, says the opposition will receive a heavy electoral shellacking in 2023, unless it changes tack quickly and ditches confrontational politics.
In addition, the MDC boss also wants the opposition to pursue dialogue more vigorously to avoid violence in the country’s fast approaching national elections.
This comes as opposition bigwigs have warned that their fight for a better Zimbabwe for all is being slowed down by fear, as authorities continue to crack down on people accused of breaching the country’s laws.
It also comes after the recent imprisonment of MDC Alliance activist, Makomborero Haruzivishe, who was convicted on charges of inciting public violence and resisting arrest.
Speaking to MDC structures in Masvingo at the weekend, Mwonzora said confrontational politics would likely result in Zanu PF using State machinery to annihilate the opposition.
“If we adopt the politics of confrontation, the members who will be beaten up, tear-gassed, killed and hurt are opposition members.
“The market will stall and small businesses that will be affected are those of our members. The vendors who will not trade in cities are our members and big businesses will suffer, and this will affect the labour force we represent.
“But dialogue will safeguard our members from harm, death and other losses which may be caused by confrontation,” Mwonzora warned.
“We don’t want this country to disintegrate like Somalia and to be at war like Mozambique. Dialogue has worked in this country before.
“The war of liberation ended with the Lancaster House talks which led to independence, then dialogue also worked to end Gukurahundi in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces in 1987, and finally it worked in 2009.
“Even when the late … Morgan Richard Tsvangirai had won the election, he chose the route of dialogue, which led to the government of national unity,” Mwonzora further told his supporters.
This comes after MDC Alliance deputy national chairperson, Job “Wiwa” Sikhala, and Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume, told the Daily News at the weekend that they feared that authorities would descend on opposition figures with a hammer in the coming weeks.
“What is scary is that anyone with a pending case of standing up against Mnangagwa is in danger. It’s not only me.
“There are many in the same position, including Jacob Ngarivhume, Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri, Netsai Marowa, Allan Moyo, Takudzwa Ngadziore and many other prominent citizens.
“The conviction of Haruzivishe testifies to the absolute extinction of any space for criticism directed at the Mnangagwa regime.
“The most hazardous occupation today is criticising the regime. They have turned to terrorism against citizens,” Sikhala said.
Sikhala, who is facing charges of inciting public violence together with Ngarivhume, added that opposition figures and other government critics were facing difficult times ahead.
“Those with giraffe sight have been giving red alerts to everyone on the dangers posed to the advocates of a free society and of equal opportunities.
“The end-game by Mnangagwa’s regime is to make sure that all his vocal opponents are in prison, to clear the road for his free continued reign against the wishes of our people.
“The law is now the most lethal and dangerous weapon against the people of Zimbabwe,” Sikhala also said.
The Zengeza West MP was nabbed by police in August last year, after nearly a month in hiding, after authorities went on the hunt for some of the leaders of the foiled July 31 anti-government mass protests.
Upon his arrest, police claimed he had been found hiding in a ceiling at a house in Tynwald North — claims which Sikhala refuted, saying he had a huge frame which made it impossible for him to hide there.
His arrest also sent tongues wagging at the time within opposition ranks, where accusations flew furiously as to how he ended up being nabbed by authorities.
At the same time, MDC Alliance leaders have been accused of calling for protests but failing to lead from the front — like the much-loved late MDC founding father Tsvangirai used to do, including when he participated in the ‘Save Zimbabwe’ march in Harare in 2007.
Then, Tsvangirai and his colleagues such as Tendai Biti, Arthur Mutambara, Grace Kwinjeh, Sekai Holland and Lovemore Madhuku were bludgeoned by heavily-armed police during brutal attacks which saw a shoe cobbler, Gift Tandare, being shot dead.
Ngarivhume — who is also facing the rap at the courts for calling for protests in 2020 — has also warned that the writing is on the wall for pro-democracy activists.
“What is more frightening is that we are all in the pipeline to go to jail. While our worry is not necessarily what will befall us, we are concerned about what will happen to our country when all those who have the courage to speak truth to power are sent to jail.
“There will be no resistance and the government will plunder resources willy-nilly. That is why the punishment meted out to Haruzivishe is a serious cause for concern and disappointment,” Ngarivhume said.
All this also comes as political analysts have once again warned that the opposition risks being annihilated by Zanu PF ahead of the 2023 polls, unless they change strategy and pursue national dialogue.
In addition, the analysts also recently told the Daily News that MDC Alliance leaders needed to ditch their “student politics” and stop dithering about whether to stick with the current name or come up with a completely new outfit.
Renowned professor of World Politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Stephen Chan, said Nelson Chamisa needed to “reinvent both himself and his party” and pursue dialogue to enhance his chances in the fast-approaching elections.
“You cannot confront Zanu PF and at the same time confront the other MDC, complaining that you are the real MDC … a situation of circular futility arises.
“He (Chamisa) needs to rebrand his party, ensure that there is national dialogue along the issue of reforms by engaging Zanu PF without necessarily being combative.
“I hate to say this, especially as many people think I am overly critical of him but, in fact, I extend my admiration to him, for he has great courage.
“However, it seems he uses exactly the same confrontational strategy that he used as a student leader,” Chan told the Daily News.