First of all you don’t form alliance or come up with electoral pact out of emotions but it must be based on mutual and intellectual experience. What kind of results do you expect from an alliance? Again an alliance proves that your support base has been shaken or you can’t go it alone therefore you need a partner which is very important. There is growing frustration and anger with the opposition ranks because of losing elections consecutively without any possible solution. What then does an election alliance do? It revives hopes and provides formidable experience amongst the partners by sharing common quality experience and intellectual capacity to defeat a common enemy. A coalition is not a one man band rather it’s a collective idea that must be shared among many. It’s not all about numbers but also the intellectual part and experience to build a mutual trust amongst partners. Strategy is not an overnight thing or posing for photos signing MOUs but it requires soberness, mutual understanding, and level headed people on the negotiating platform and at the same time ironing out some legal aspects before posing for photos on signing ceremonies. There is more to it than signing paper work.
Coalitions Requires Level Headed People
When going for electoral pacts, alliances and coalitions it requires sober people, with sober minds and habits who can contribute effectively on the ground work. Inviting people like drunkards like Sipepa Nkomo on such matters is further sinking so low going down below the belt. The likes of Biti, Ncube, Mashakadas, and Chamisa of today will yield positive results. It is not only the issue of signatures and posing for photos and seeking political relevance but these arrangements requires a lot of work on the ground, feasibility studies, measuring the support base that each and every political party has on the ground.
What Are You Bringing to the Coalition?
Some have big names all-over herald, daily news, Newsday but practically on the ground there is nothing. Never try to make a mistake of being so desperate by entering into coalitions of air pie without any meaningful contributions. The issue of wearing colourful suits does not contribute anything on the table but meaningful numbers. I’m not trying to trash any idea but never get excited with the word coalition itself or rather electoral pact. The word coalition has become a beer hall talk with nothing much on the ground. The truth of the matter is there are two popular political parties on the ground with meaningful wide support on the ground that is MDC T and Zanu Pf and the rest they are brief case parties trying to seek political relevance.
Issue of Best Candidature Evolves Around Best Brands
The political face practically is centred on one person and this is common in African politics. Most political parties are associated on names and almost all the political parties in Zimbabwe have semi-gods who will die with their parties. For a party to change its leader it will take years and decades from grassroots to adopt such kind of changes. Yes one may have past mistakes but Zimbabweans do not look much into the issue of character but it’s all about BRANDS. Tsvangirai and Mugabe are the biggest political brands in this country. How many people have left Zanu Pf and they have tried to form their own political parties, and what did they achieve? How many people have left MDC T and what have they achieved with their political outfits? Nothing. One need to take introspective outlook when dealing with such matters. This requires intelligence and strategy before making such crucial decisions. So any coalition or alliance has to be centred on such types of brands.
Support Base at Grassroots Level
When careful looking into such agreements the issue of grassroots support is very important. Do you have structures on the ground? Are the structures still functional or its on paper work? How many defections to other political parties? What meaningful contributions can those structures provide to the formidable alliance? Why do we need you in this alliance? Do you have any following? What happened to your support base? Why did people defect and leave you? What are the short comings of those structures? People are on the ground and they are the ones who will vote. Election victory is all about numeric values. You don’t win elections on signing ceremonies but rather in wards and cell levels. Before penning signatures have people accepted the idea and agreements? What is the grassroots say on such matters? What was contained in such documents?
2018 Will Be Won by Someone Who Will Manage to Penetrate the Rural Electorate Strategically
65% of the electorate in Zimbabwe is in rural areas and 35% of the electorate is in urban areas. This should not shock some fellas when results are announced, at least someone should appreciate this information. Information is very important when coming up with such arrangements. People get too excited with newspaper headlines whereas on the ground it’s different. Look at the recent elections in USA, Hillary Clinton relied much on media whereas Trump was relevant on the ground. What is the ground saying? People in rural areas they only know one bag of maize, cooking oil and inputs where as in urban areas they exercise much anger on social media and newspapers. For one to win the rural populace it requires much work and strong indoctrination. It’s not easy to just win those hearts, what do you offer? What do you have in your hands?
Popularity of Candidates in Constituencies a Contributing Factor
If you impose candidates just know that you are drowning. You impose coalition leaders without careful study, the support base will shake or there will be voter apathy. Adoption style of leadership is the best after the primary elections for the committees to carefully study the candidates before they are put on the ballot paper. Most of these guys will use money to buy people but the reality on the ground will be different. It’s not about intimidation or violence but is about who is well known. Most of these guys seek protection from their god fathers in their respective parties or pay protection fees to their leaders so that their seats will be reserved in their constituencies. So what then happens is, people will not vote on the voting day because they will be too much grumbling on the ground. Leave the primaries and adoption committees to do their work. The issue of imposition of candidates have yielded negative results in previous elections.
Bad Apples in Coalitions Achieve Negative Results
Before going into these alliances you need to have a careful study of who is who before coming to the table. Some of these members have a bad history and human rights issues as well and you expect people on the ground to vote for them “NEVER”. Some have participated in killings, murder, rape issues and then at the same time they want to get ministerial positions, parliamentary seats in the name of the coalition. My question would then be what has changed? Are they acceptable? Have they reformed? This could be infiltration as well.
Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo writes in his personal capacity as an academic and Head of Mentorship Institute of National Development and Sustainability (MINDS) which is responsible for policy formulation, research and analysis. He can be contacted at [email protected]
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