By Garikai Chimuka
The opposition forces in Zimbabwe today face the biggest opportunity to unseat Mugabe come polls in March 08.However, lack of decisive leadership and statesmanship in putting Zimbabwe first ahead of narrow ,personal parochial interests is the opposition's biggest undoing and clearly a betrayal to the long suffering masses of Zimbabwe who are craving for change. In fact, time is running out fast for the opposition and the earlier they realize what Martin Luther King Jnr called , "the urgency of now ", the better for the opposition risk being annihilated and vanquished by Mugabe and his ruthless campaign machinery come March 2008.
The first and urgent issue is for the opposition to unite for there is strength in unity and diversity. Without a united opposition coalition, Mugabe will simply win by default.
Global history is replete with examples where unity or lack of it has done or undone a democratic people's struggle.
During the Chinese revolution, Mao and his communists were pitted against Chiang Kai-shek and his nationalists in a bitter armed struggle and the Japanese invaded
.Mao went to Chiang and told him that, "brothers quarrelling at home will join forces against the outside.' The bitter foes declared a temporary truce and combined forces to fight the Japanese. After repealing the Japanese, they then fought for supremacy. This is an extraordinary act of statesmanship which is clearly lacking in China opposition forces today. Zimbabwe
Therefore it behoves upon the fragmented MDC to rise above petty personal interests, culture of hate and suspicion and endorse one candidate for President, Senator, MP, Councilor etc so that each vote counts against ZANU PF.With patriotism, this is quite possible. There is greater opportunity for such an arrangement to work since the Mutambara faction is willing to endorse Tsvangirai as president .Tsvangirai should welcome this gesture and reign in anti-unity hawks in his party for the national good.
The advantages of a united coalition under Tsvangirai which should also include other opposition parties, independent MP, civil society, the church, student and trade union movement , reformists who are willing to join from ZANU PF and cadres in the Diaspora are manifold. Firstly, it will create national euphoria that is now clearly lacking in the battered population today. That euphoria or national excitement of believing, like in 2000, that Mugabe and his rigging machinery can and will be defeated especially if there is an overwhelming opposition vote, is a sure insurance against the hopelessness that has gripped the populace who are now more likely to be apathetic to the polls.
The urgency of the hour clearly demands that before Christmas, the national opposition coalition under Tsvangirai must be in place and must immediately swing into campaign action, a blitz never seen in history
After achieving unity, the opposition must be unequivocal, categorical and clear in its message. The theme must be, "the people are ready for the elections in January, February or March 08.The opposition must never fool itself that Mugabe will postpone elections to June. After all postponing elections to June will never make any difference' because ZANU-PF ;s gerrymander tactics are deeply institutionalized and rooted in the system and can not go away in 3 months.
In December 1979,at
, ZANU and ZAPU agreed to have elections in March despite several obstacles that were clearly in the way for free and fair elections. Issues like putting fighters into assembly points, demobilization etc However it took dedicated fighters like the late Josiah Tongogara to quickly put in place a winning strategy that worked. Lancaster
Instead of crying for election postponement, Tsvangirai and his troops must rise to the occasion. They have the power of technology, volunteers, the situation and indeed the people of Zimbabwe to launch a decisive campaign to defeat the power hungry Mugabe not only in March but even on new year's day if they are committed to the leadership responsibility that has been bestowed unto them by the people of Zimbabwe.
The opposition must never preach the gospel of election rigging. A lot of opposition supporters will simply believe that the elections are already rigged and stay away from the polls handing Mugabe undeserved victory and in the process sentencing the people of
to a lifetime of poverty. The content of the opposition message must be directed not at the international community but to the supporters who will vote in March next year so the opposition must talk and breathe victory Zimbabwe
In 1979, after several bombings of ZANU and ZAPU bases by Muzorewa and Smith, the late Tongogara addressed his troops and people of
on radio Zimbabwe . Despite the helplessness of the situation given the mass massacres that were now taking place and the doubts that were now creeping in coward leaders like Mugabe, Tongo's message was precise and bold. He said, "People of Zimbabwe, the struggle has advanced. Victory, victory, victory , victory is certain" Such a message strengthened the people 's resolve to soldier on despite the cruel tactics which were now being employed by Muzorewa and Smith especially through the selous scouts. Thus the opposition must preach a message of hope and victory to inspire the people to vote. Maputo
The opposition must also realize that African politics is not a game of policy or promises but of strategy and structures. Structures going down to each and every street and hamlet must be put in place, mobilizing people to register, where to vote and how to overcome ZANU PF propaganda and dirty tactics.Infact at a click of a mouse, Tsvangirai must be able to know what is happening in every street, village etc in terms of meetings , people who have registered to vote etc. The opposition must go to the polls knowing clearly how many votes they will get or going with victory in the bag.
Indeed the opposition forces must urgently unite and mount a serious campaign of hope in order to save
from the failed Mugabe regime which has become a national liability and a painful problem to the people of Zimbabwe . History will never absolve the opposition for blowing a golden moment to unite and inspire the people to a new and prosperous Zimbabwe come March 08 Zimbabwe
Garikai Agenda Chimuka is a post-graduate student at
in the Wageningen University and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Netherlands
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