Winning elections and yielding power needs political strategy

Politics has different dynamics and people should know that winning elections and yielding power is something different altogether. History has repeated itself that Morgan Tsvangirai commands a huge following and what Morgan needs now is to transform those numbers into electoral victory. Yes if you make a critical analysis on the ground you will find that the only two popular rival political parties in this country is ZANU and MDC T. we don’t want to waste much of our time dwelling on who is popular in opposition and who is not. Opposition has wasted 6 months discussing coalition talks whilst Zanu-PF is on the ground campaigning. What is needed is political strategy to win elections in Zimbabwe. In every constituency in politics if you lack political strategy it will be difficult to yield power. You can have as many rallies as possible but if you don’t have the idea to take power then you will never get there. The idea is not only winning election but taking power, this is where opposition needs to work on.

Strategy 1. Don’t talk too much
The major problem in opposition is talking too much. If you have a careful study on previous election in Ghana, Zambia and Swaziland you will find that you have to do more on strategy. I remember very well in 2016 general elections in Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema promised war in Zambia if he lost elections and guess what happened there was never war in Zambia after elections. When he uttered those words Lungu never responded, he was busy strategizing on the ground. Less talking but deliver more. What is needed is to come up with political strategy on how to yield power. Opposition has been making so many press conferences, but how many press conferences have Zanu held since the beginning of the year. They have commando agriculture, they have ZIM ASSET, they have farming inputs, they have command economy and people in rural areas don’t eat press conference they eat food, they need food hand-outs, they need farm inputs come 2018 Zanu will be there on top of the mountain celebrating.

Strategy 2. Winning elections and yielding power is totally different
The problem with elections in Africa they always produce contested results. I’ve noticed this in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, DRC and Uganda. Yes the opposition can win an election but it’s different from yielding power. What you need is political strategy. Every ruling party survives on strategies on how to maintain its grip on power. My question is how you achieve this objective. Recently a Zanu-PF senior politician announced that even if Zanu-PF loses or MDC T wins they will not concede defeat. That statement was well calculated on two horizons, first how you win an election and secondly how you yield power. The statement has different dynamics, mainly because it is there to taste waters to see how people react and secondly to make people believe that it is pointless to vote because Zanu-PF will still return power. It is a political strategy to frustrate people in the opposition politics so that they don’t participate in the election, so this will work to the advantage of Zanu-PF. whilst you are concentrating on that statement Zanu is on the ground.

Strategy 3. Who surrounds you in politics
It’s very important to define people close to you when you want to win an election. The most important people are those whom you listen to. If you surrounds yourself with people who have questionable credentials then you have a big problem. How do you take critical decisions on political matters? In political leadership one goes through a lot of political pressure when making key decisions, you have to please everyone, you have to accommodate everyone but then how do you screen views and ideas so that you come up with clear objectives. Tsvangirai needs to be very careful with people who give him information regarding electoral issues and political decisions. There are so many people who fooled him in 2013 that you have already won the elections and those people were planted to give him false hopes and it worked to their advantage.

Strategy 4. Information is key
You cannot expect to win an election when you don’t have the information of what is happening. Mdc was shocked in 2013 when they lost the election claiming rigging by NIKUV international, yet they were in the Government. What made them not to pick this information regarding NIKUV? It is very important in politics to quickly get information of what is happening in order for you to arrive on best solutions. How do you get information? How do you keep information? How do you evaluate information? How do you discern information to the relevant structures? Winning an election is all about information. How do you impart information to the recipients? Do you have to say everything on the podium? Do you have to rely on everything you hear from people? There is a way to deal with political information.

Strategy 5. All strategies should never be made public
When you are strategizing in every election you don’t need to be on the podium telling people on your strategies. Some of the things they are reserved for future purposes. This is what has to be knocked in opposition think tanks and brains. For example some opposition senior figures they give threats to ruling parties by informing them that once they get power all ruling party officials will be arrested for crimes against humanity. So do you expect Zanu-PF to hand over power when you threaten them with arrests? It needs political intelligence to deal with such crucial matters. Recently Tsvangirai told the Gweru gathering that the company that was granted the tender to supply BVR kits was good. He may be correct but for now he was not supposed to disclose it in public till everything is clear. In 2013 he disclosed that Rita Makarau is the right person for ZEC, but after elections he cried foul accusing the same person of rigging elections in favour of Zanu-PF. This is where Nelson Chamisa should come in and help Morgan to make decisions on when to say things.

Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo writes in his personal capacity as the Head of MINDS which is responsible for policy research and analysis. He is also an academic and development consultant. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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