We are sleep walking into 2018 elections

Whitlaw Mugwiji

It has almost been two months, since I last wrote an opinion piece. With this well needed break, I had the opportunity to actively listen to diverse conversations concerning Zimbabwe across all media platforms. If truth be told, I cannot say the conversations were a pleasure to my ears. We have less than a year into the crunch 2018 elections, yet people are discussing nothing but Zanu PF factionalism. Dear Zimbabwe, I am here to remind you that Zanu PF’s weaknesses do not translate into the opposition’s strength.

Time to put the house in order

Sun Tzu says ‘never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake’. Whilst this is true, it does not mean we must be lackadaisical in our own preparations. We have a big battle before us next year. I am sure if everyone understood the meaning of that battle; we would set aside our petty differences and finalize the coalition. The 2018 elections are not just about defeating Mugabe but about improving the lives of ordinary citizens.

This is a point which some democrats seem to miss. They would rather focus on the democratic deficiencies in the MDCT. We all know, Tsvangirai is no saint, but must we throw away the baby with the bath water? I am reminded of Winston Churchill when he said ‘if Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons’. This is the attitude the opposition must embrace; enemy of my enemy is a potential ally.

Zanu PF might be weak but divided and fighting among ourselves, we are even weaker. At least, we owe it to our people, let us unite and give them hope and a fighting chance next year.

Perhaps, we could learn from the resistance that fought against Hitler’s Germany. Capitalists from the West and communists from the East, joined hands and fought against Hitler. Not that they shared a common vision for Germany’s future, but to them, the only task was to defeat Nazi Germany. We too can put aside our petty differences and fight our common enemy; Zanu PF. If need be, we can resume our petty squabbles after the victory celebrations.

 

Sleeping Intellectuals opinion makers

The crisis in the opposition movement is deeper than what meets the eye. Yes, we have lack of unity and resources in the opposition but I contend that the crisis is exacerbated by sleeping intellectuals and opinion makers. Even, Nathaniel Manheru’s last piece, titled Adieus and Hello Zimbabwe could not wake them up. He could not have been more explicit, yet our intellectuals and opinion makers took no notice. He plainly bragged how they were able to counter the opposition’s hegemony over intellectuals.

Intellectuals and opinion makers in their stupor have focused their attention on Zanu PF factionalism. Unwittingly, allowing Zanu PF to set the agenda for national discourse. Child prostitution, poverty, unemployment, lack of medicines, massive corruption, cash and fuel shortages, now play second fiddle to Zanu PF factionalism. Surely, we have normalized the abnormal. I doubt I will be able to succeed where Manheru failed. But I sincerely hope, a few are vigilant enough to take heed and rise to the occasion.

We cannot afford to sleep-walk into the 2018 elections. The intelligentsia together with the opposition have the responsibility to reclaim agenda setting and shape the public discourse. For too long we have engrossed ourselves in Zanu PF factionalism; choosing sides between two monsters. Whether one chooses heads or tails it is still the same coin. To the ordinary citizen, there is absolutely no difference between a G40 and a Lacoste, more so under an incompetent Robert Mugabe. Let Zanu PF worry about its own internal squabbles, and let us work on re-organization and uniting our people for change.

We all have a party to play

But change is not going to come on a silver platter; we all must get down to work. I have heard some people complaining that the opposition is not doing enough campaigns in the rural areas. Quite, a legitimate concern, I am sure a lot of people agree with this view. However, in as much as this view is true, I strongly believe, it is everyone’s responsibility to talk to their own relatives in rural areas. Vakuru vanoti hakuna mombe inofurira ivete (each cow must graze for itself).

In order to move the country forward everyone has a part to play. In my humble view, those in the near-diaspora have a responsibility to register and eventually vote next year. The far-diaspora must help fund the struggle, as Jalil Muntaqim says ‘we are our own liberators’. We do not have to pay large sums of money, $1/month per individual can oil the opposition machinery. But perhaps before people can pour their hard earned money, the opposition needs to finalize on the coalition. And the coalition in-turn needs to put into place, proper structures that enhance financial transparency and accountability.

2018 elections; it’s do or die

Sun Tzu says “victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”. We can either fail to prepare or prepare to fail because 2018 elections are won or lost by the actions we take today.

Let this be a clarion call to all those who want to see change. Mugabe and his Zanu PF cabal have shown time and again that they are incapable of resuscitating the economy and reviving the fortunes of our motherland. 2018 elections; the choice is ours to make; to do or die, to swim or to sink.