The month of November 2017 will go down in history as one of the most significant periods in the history of both Zimbabwe and Africa. It is the month that saw the glorious and controversial rule of Mr Robert Mugabe coming to a grinding halt.
Preceding his ouster, there had been bitter and acrimonious factional fights to succeed the former. The hostilities had become extremely palpable and untenable, and current incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa saw himself getting booted out from the party. The stage was now set for former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe to rise to the top echelon of both party leadership and that of the state, being Vice-President of both.
This did not go down well with the military, staunch supporters of President Mnangagwa. It precipitated the military intervention which was widely supported. It was not a coup in name, but the reality prevailing showed all signs of a coup, although this was orchestrated against the backdrop of popular support. It is the issue of popular support that is proving to be a knock-out blow for the opposition.
The military facilitated the removal of Mr Mugabe, in a show of unity that saw bounds being shattered. The opposition became labelled as useless. The entrance of President Mnangagwa as the leader of the nation ushered in a new, overwhelming sense of hope to Zimbabweans, hope they had been yearning for a long time. A hope for change. Change at any cost.
Anyone being a critic of the new government had to do so with the utmost caution. The opposition saw no space being created for them anymore. They have almost become useless according to many people. This is what lawyer and academic Dr Alex Magaisa calls the “tyranny of the majority.”
When the MDC Alliance travelled to the United States of America to lobby for electoral reforms, they were accused fiercely across the political divide for asking the US to maintain their policy on sanctions. They were not given the chance to tell their side of the story. Maybe, genuinely, the MDC made wrong moves, but the demonisation levels they re being subjected to are extremely toxic for any functional democracy.
It can be safely said that the change of government has added to the woes that the opposition have been currently facing. Indeed, before engaging the United States, they were supposed to engage the Zimbabweans first. They were supposed to engage the government first. However, it can also be said that the odds of this ZANU-PF government giving heed to reforms tabled by the MDC is an insurmountable task.
The opposition must now re-strategize. They are faced with an ominous possibility of a tyranny of the majority. It is time for the opposition to institute leadership renewal. It is time for them to connect with the people.
The new government does not mean they have become a lost cause. Any functional democracy needs a robust opposition in order to keep checks and balances on the ruling party, which has a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
It is simply time for the opposition parties in Zimbabwe to get grip of the plot. They must never lose the plot. They are a vital component of any functional democracy.
Perhaps ours is not functional after all…