With just under 8 weeks to go before the elections, last week saw the announcement of the failure of the 2 MDC factions to form a coalition for the upcoming election in March. Talks between the two party leaders, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, collapsed after their failure to agree on the selection of candidates in the election. The other dramatic turn in the week was the announcement by Simba Makoni, a former Finance Minister and member of the ZANU PF politburo, that he would be contesting the elections as an Independent. Makoni has for a long time been viewed as a possible successor of Mugabe who would be acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe, as well as the international community. If the reports that Makoni is being supported by senior members of ZANU PF are true, then his coming in can be viewed as providing an alternative leadership for the disgruntled members of the ruling party who are no longer satisfied with the current incumbent, Mugabe. This will be the first time that President Mugabe has actually had someone from the ruling party opposing him. This could also be viewed as a tangible sign of a rift with the ruling party which for the past 28 years projected an image of being united and is a huge blow.
The MDC has welcomed Simba Makoni’s entry into the presidential race. His entry could result in one of the two MDC candidates deciding to unite with Simba Makoni in the coming elections. The negative impact of his entry is that it could divide the MDC support base in the urban areas. There are some circles in Zimbabwe who are viewing his entry as another ZANU PF gimmick thrown in to disorient the voters.
The people of Zimbabwe have over the last 7 years yearned for change in Zimbabwe. However the absence of an electoral environment that is conducive for a free and fair election has hampered these efforts. The weakened opposition had eroded any prospects of reforms in Zimbabwe. However the coming in for Simba will divide the ruling party and provide an opportunity for reformists within and outside ZANU PF to emerge. The election will not necessarily bring about meaningful change but could merely usher in a shift in the balance of power within the ruling party.
But more importantly what do all these happenings mean for the common man on the street who is going without basic food, water, electricity and power? Do they have any hope in an election, to they believe in democracy? Will they even go to vote this year? Do they have the desire, the energy or even the power to do so? Are the people of Zimbabwe still looking for a change of governance? Or do they just want an end to their hunger and lack of basic amenities?
No comments yet.