ZAPU says it is wrong for other opposition parties to blame smaller formations for dividing votes because if they campaigned very well, they would not have to agonise over vote splitting.
This sentiment comes as observers have always claimed that participating as various splinters spoilt the election by drawing votes away from a preferred opposition candidate.
But ZAPU believes no political party owns voters, neither do they know how people would vote in the next polls.
“When we go into elections, no one has a vote allocation to say, ‘these are your votes.’ We also don’t know how people are going to vote heading into an election,” said ZAPU Secretary-General, Mthulisi Hanana in an interview on Uncensored with Mzala Tom held on Twitter Spaces.
Although it was good for political parties to find ways of working together, Hanana noted it should be stated that for a country to progress, it needed diversity of views.
“Remember one of the reasons why ZAPU was persecuted and had 20 000 members, sympathisers killed was because Zanu wanted to establish a one-party state. Look at what has gone wrong in this country, it’s simply because of a one-party state, so we cannot then, having seen dangers of a one-party state, want to create a one-party opposition,” he said.
“We need to have diversity, plurality and multiplicity of views in the country so that we have a healthy Parliament.”
The ZAPU SG highlighted that all political parties must canvass for votes.
“I don’t think there’s a vote that is being split. Who does the vote belong to? All of us are canvassing for votes. In any case, in areas where ZAPU has contested, the MDC did not do well and we can’t be said to be splitting their vote. In some cases, the MDC did not contest,” Hanana remarked.
“It’s amazing people want to bring out the issue of splitting the vote and not go back to 2018 to say, the MDC Alliance, could not agree amongst themselves and fielded double candidates in some areas, which shows its actually difficult to build consensus around political parties.
“Internally if they fail to have one candidate in an area, what more if they bring in more political parties?”
Hanana suggested instead of pointing fingers, there were more pressing issues opposition parties could work together on, stating the issue of fielding polling agents was one such area.
“In 2018, there were over 300 polling stations the opposition combined did not have a single polling agent at. Can you imagine what Zanu can do in 300 polling stations, where there’s no political party to supervise the election process, they can do what they want. This is the conversation we must be having,” said the ZAPU SG.
“As ZAPU, we are not targeting anyone’s vote or stronghold. We are targeting people that want an alternative, targeting people who have been in ZAPU and first-time voters who want change in this country.”
Hanana added if opposition political parties were to work together, they could do so in a structured way that did not create hegemony.
“It’s a fact that if somebody voted for you in 2008, it does not necessarily mean they will vote for you in the next election. The issue of splitting the vote is not quite accurate but do I feel there’s a need for some arrangement of some sort to be worked out. Maybe it could be considered but has to be structured in a certain way that does not allow monopoly,” he said.
“We don’t want a scenario in Parliament where a party has a two-thirds majority and rewrite the constitution. We want a system for check and balances and that is primarily found in diverse views, ideologies and approaches in Parliament, so let’s make sure we protect the multiplicity of our parties. This is what democracy entails, is one of the fundamental democracy tenets of democracy and what ZAPU fought for.”
The ZAPU SG also highlighted that their party had been supporting other political parties so it was about time it too received a boost.
“In 2018 we supported another party, since 2015 we have always been supporting other parties, I think it’s also high time other parties support us. One of the problems in Zimbabwe is the army plays a central role in politics yet ZAPU brings in liberation credentials and an army, (ex -ZPRA) maybe it’s high time people support us and maybe if we win, under ZAPU the army might not interfere. Let’s have these conversations and see how they go,” Hanana said.