‘Zim’s opposition politics in unprecedented leadership crisis’

Political analysts have pointed out that the dual roles of opposition political leaders, both as politicians and individuals advancing their careers, prevent them from fully serving the people.

This situation has been argued to create a crisis in opposition politics, as politicians prioritise their interests over those of the public.

The leadership crisis within the opposition was highlighted during the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)’s candidate selection process and subsequent Nomination Court chaos last year.

Some candidates were nearly disqualified from national elections for submitting their nomination forms late.

The CCC, once viewed as the main contender against Zanu PF, lacked visible structures, with then-party leader Nelson Chamisa criticised for running a one-man show.

Following the elections, in which the CCC prevented Zanu PF from gaining a two-thirds majority in Parliament, the opposition party faced recalls.

Sengezo Tshabangu, posing as the party’s Secretary-General, recalled several CCC lawmakers and councillors, resulting in by-elections. The majority of these were won by the ruling party.

Chamisa resigned from the CCC, citing infiltration, while Fadzayi Mahere and Allan Norman Rusty Markham followed suit, resigning from Parliament, stating they could no longer be members of a party that had lost its direction.

Following Chamisa’s departure, various party members in the CCC issued statements claiming leadership of the party, exposing a lack of succession provisions in the opposition movement.

The CCC then nominated Professor Welshman Ncube as the party’s acting president under its ‘Gweru Resolutions’ since he is the ‘most senior’ of the party’s three Vice Presidents. Ncube was to serve as Acting President on a 90-day rotation, with the other two Vice Presidents, Tendai Biti and Lynette Karenyi-Kore, taking turns in that role until the CCC’s anticipated elected congress this year.

However, Biti quit the CCC at a time when he was due to take over as CCC acting president under the rotational arrangement for a fellowship in the United States, leading political pundit Professor Jonathan Moyo to claim that “he is running away from leadership responsibility.”

“The recent state of the conduct of leadership ranks in the Zimbabwean political opposition is unprecedented in the country’s political history,” Prof Moyo said.

He criticised Mahere and Markham for resigning from Parliament, stating that they had betrayed their constituencies.

“Zimbabwe does indeed need better opposition leaders than these kinds who, given to such gross negligence, breached the duty of constituency representation with reckless abandon,” Prof Moyo said.

He added that Biti “is cut from the same cloth” as Chamisa, Mahere, and Markham, accusing him of “bolting out” and “running away from leadership responsibility.”

Now, the current opposition MPs have been accused of becoming “a branch of the ruling party,” with some calling for an election postponement.

Analyst Ibbo Mandaza expressed concern that Zimbabwe has a New Parliament without a genuine opposition, emphasising the importance of having a robust opposition to hold the government accountable.

“What should be worrying us as Zimbabweans is that we have a New Parliament but without an Opposition. How can anyone celebrate a compliant Opposition, almost as a branch of the ruling party? No, an Opposition exists in any dispensation as an essential component of democracy – to hold the government accountable!” wrote analyst Ibbo Mandaza on his X account.

Congress for Transformation (CFT) spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa concurred, stating that Zimbabwe’s opposition space has been infiltrated by individuals who lack genuine interest in improving people’s lives.

“We have also witnessed the ruling party literally controlling the space by deploying its proxies who masquerade as opposition politicians,” he said.

“Most are on the ruling party payroll, right up to the highest echelons of opposition leadership. There is a classic case of a late opposition leader who also was an informer on all his party’s activities to the system.”

Maphosa said opposition politics and parties have been turned into entities where leaders realise commercial value instead of improving Zimbabweans’ livelihoods.

“It’s a stage where actors come on, perform their theatrics raising false hope then at the most opportune time and reasons, exit to rejoin Zanu PF or wait another deployment. All fake if you ask me,” said the CFT spokesperson.

“Real and authentic opposition died with ZAPU when Gukurahundi swept across Matabeleland and Midlands.”

Maphosa said MPs who now call for election postponement in 2028 are simply trying to elongate their time on the “feeding troughs.” 

“They do not fancy any chances of reelection, so what better way to stay on the gravy train than to postpone the next election? This is evidence that the so-called opposition politicians do not care about the constitution. They have turned out to be similar or even worse than the regime we fight against,” Maphosa said and claimed his party CFT was different.

“The real, authentic opposition political dispensation is what CFT has been building since November last year, where genuineness is the  hallmark of our existence as well as programmes.”

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