THE Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), an independent public policy think-tank, says the main opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) should address its own internal contradictions that have enabled Zanu PF’s machinations to undermine the party’s credibility and cohesion.
The CCC has been stung by recalls driven by self-proclaimed secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu, who has brewed a storm after writing letters to Parliament and the ministry of Local Government, on a CCC letterhead, recalling 15 members of Parliament and 17 councillors.
The recalls, which have been upheld by Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, have raised a stink in the CCC, with analysts describing the move as a deliberate ploy by the ruling Zanu PF to force through a two-thirds majority that would allow Mnangagwa to pass laws and amend the constitution at will.
While CCC leader Nelson Chamisa on Wednesday directed MPs to disengage from Parliament until recalled members are reinstated, Tshabangu has also threatened to roll out more recalls should they fail to report for duty.
In a new report titled The Politics of Recalls — Democratic Fragility and Opposition Vulnerability in Zimbabwe, the ZDI said the opposition should solve its internal contradictions that have enabled infiltration by Zanu PF.
“The opposition should strengthen its internal democracy and accountability mechanisms to prevent infiltration and co-optation by Zanu PF agents,” reads the report.
“The opposition must also enhance its communication and coordination with its grassroots supporters and allies to prevent confusion and demoralisation. The opposition should maintain its vigilance and resilience against Zanu PF’s attempts to intimidate and manipulate it through legal or extra-legal means. The opposition must also seek regional and international solidarity and support for its cause.”
The ZDI said Zanu PF is trying to implement a securocratic state-building strategy that seeks to consolidate power by eliminating potential challengers, while seeking to sow discord and distrust among its leaders, members and allies.
A securocratic state-building strategy uses coercion, manipulation and patronage to create a loyal and compliant citizenry, while pursuing selective economic reforms and social engineering to project an image of modernity and progress.
“The fact that CCC leadership wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament earlier than Tshabangu that sought to prevent unofficial and sporadic recalls and was ignored implies that Zanu PF is either behind the recalls or conniving with disgruntled CCC individuals to facilitating those recalls to reap the attendant benefits of a fractured and thus weakened opposition,” reads the report.
“Indeed, section 158(3) of the constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that a contested by-election should be conducted after an MP is recalled in terms of section 129 (1)(k).
“However, three key considerations make a Zanu PF capture of a significant number of lost constituencies in its bid to regain a two-thirds majority in Parliament very likely. Firstly, Zimbabwean electoral history has been very informative regarding the electoral apathy among opposition support bases mainly in rural areas and Zanu PF’s strong coercive apparatus in the rural constituency in most by-elections.”
While there have been indications of CCC’s infiltration by Zanu PF and Central Intelligence Organisation-led outfit Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), the ZDI said the opposition has to resist integration into the regime.
In the pre-election period, Faz was accused of fraudulently filing nomination papers which saw double and triple candidates in 15 constituencies in Harare, three constituencies in Bulawayo, one in Kariba, and one in Marondera.
“This means the opposition should not accept any offers or inducements from the regime to join its ranks or to abandon its principles. This entails refusing to participate in any sham elections or dialogues that are designed to legitimise the regime or to co-opt its leaders;
“Refusing to recognise or endorse any decisions or actions taken by the regime that violate the constitution or the rule of law; refusing to allow any of its members to defect or collaborate with the regime for personal gain or protection and refusing to compromise on its core values and demands, such as free and fair elections, human rights, and democratic reforms.”
The ZDI said the opposition should dispute Zanu PF’s legitimacy through exposing and criticising flaws and failures, while offering alternative visions and values.
“This includes challenging the regime’s claims to represent the national interest or to deliver development and stability, highlighting the regime’s corruption, repression, violence, incompetence, and mismanagement, exposing the regime’s capture of state institutions, such as the judiciary, the legislature, the security forces, etc, and its manipulation of electoral processes and outcomes and presenting the opposition’s own agenda and programme for democratic change and development that can address the needs and aspirations of the people,” reads the report.
The ZDI said by-elections would likely result in Zanu PF regaining control of unstable rural constituencies such as Beitbridge West and Lupane East where it lost by a mere 96 and 235 votes respectively.
For instance, in Makoni Rural District Council ward 33 where there was a tie between the CCC and Zanu PF, Zanu PF won a landslide in a by-election.
“Thus, when apathy in opposition support base is triangulated with intensified coercion usually deployed by Zanu PF and its securocratic cousins now operating under civilian cover, the Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) in rural constituencies during by-elections, 96-250 votes are likely to shift from CCC to Zanu PF in each constituency. This will affect some rural constituencies won by the opposition.” – News Hawk