No election buzz in Zimbabwe: Analysts

With about three months until the August harmonised general election, political experts say the usual election buzz has not gripped Zimbabwe, particularly in opposition camps, and this could lead to the worst voter apathy in Zimbabwean history.

Political analysts say although the election date is yet to be announced, Zanu PF has decided on its candidates, who are currently campaigning on the ground, while the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC), touted as the country’s major opposition political party, is still finalising its candidates.

A political analyst, Iphithule Maphosa, said it was surprising how the opposition was in a state of comatose with about 90 days to go until polling day.

“One would be forgiven for concluding they have already accepted defeat by the ruling party. As it is, no opposition party has conducted successfully their candidate selection,” he said.

Maphosa predicted the electorate would also lose  interest in the elections due to this ‘comatose.’

He also attributed the voter apathy to “seemingly unpreparedness by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to conduct a credible election.”

“People don’t think the polls will be dispute proof-as well, plus the delayed proclamation of election day by the president is not helping. Preparations by political parties seem to be hinged on the awaited proclamation,” Maphosa said.

Former cabinet minister and political scientist, Professor Jonathan Moyo, observed there was no election buzz compared to previous charged pre-election periods.

“Organised political opposition ahead of the 2023 election is palpably comatose,” he said on his Twitter handle.

“The only visible and potentially deadly opposition is coming from the teetering economy, which is approximating a free fall, but which the government can still stabilise, although time is running out.”
Prof Moyo speculated that the lethargic opposition could be due to the CCC concealing its tactics ahead of the election, which he criticised, saying in politics, strategic clarity is better than strategic ambiguity, which was “an assured communication disaster.”

“In politics, “ambiguity” is actually an expression of an unclear ideology, legality, policy, position, statement, task, goal or action of the leadership. There can be many causes of ambiguity or lack of clarity, including incapacity, confusion, ignorance or cluelessness,” he said.

Prof Moyo, who has been at loggerheads with CCC on its supposed lack of clarity, stated that in political parties, ambiguity does also confuses members of that political party.

“When party members of such a party encounter an ambiguous situation due to lack of access to necessary or true information; they are most likely to be uncertain and confused about what to do, what to believe or what to say for or in defence of their party,” he said, adding that a new political party cannot afford to embark on an ambiguous communication strategy, where, “its leadership says what it does not mean and means what it does not say under the self-defeating pretext of confusing ‘the enemy’.”

Prof Moyo noted that the main presidential candidates – Zanu PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and CCC’s Nelson Chamisa have considerable mobilisation work cut out for them to sharpen and align their campaign strategies with the local government and parliamentary campaigns of their political parties.

“In 2018 Mnangagwa was outperformed by Zanu PF parliamentary candidates who won in 145 constituencies while he won in 125, as he lost in 20 won by his party. On the other hand, Chamisa outperformed his then MDC-A by winning in 85 constituencies while his alliance won in 63, as he won in 22 lost by his party,” he said.

Critical studies scholar, Dr Khanyile Mlotshwa said the ‘fact’ that political campaigning coupled with free political expression was limited in Zimbabwe today, especially on the eve of an important election must be worrying.

“The election season must be a beautiful and exciting season for any country, a time when politicians and political parties seek to outdo each other in terms of performing politics. It is a time to see the most beautiful regalia and to hear the most beautiful speech, oratory power. It is a time for friendly competition on the platform of ideas,” he said.

“It is the hope of every patriot that the colour of election campaigning will not be replaced by brute force as parties seek to scramble through their ideas at the last minute. And worse, one hopes that this lack of colour and performance by the politicians and political parties will not lead to the worst voter apathy in the history of Zimbabwe.”

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