The March 26 by elections have attested to the fact that the greatest resource a political party may and must have is people power and Douglas Mwonzora had to face up with this truth as his MDC-T failed to come out of the contest with even a single seat at both local and parliamentary level.
Mwonzora, whose party contested under the MDC-Alliance banner, failed to win any parliamentary seat, thereby handing over the title of official opposition leader in parliament to Nelson Chamisa, leader of the newly formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party.
The electorate was very vociferous in their message that that they were ready to look elsewhere than to look towards the MDC-T.
Since the dismal performance in the by-elections, like a castle made of candle wax, the MDC-T is in shambles and starting to crumble down with some senior members purportedly abandoning the sinking ship.
In what was seen as his fear of being thrashed in the by-elections, Mwonzora had previously tried to block the by-elections while calling for rational disputation with ZANU-PF instead.
This is despite the fact that it was Mwonzora through his MDC-T party, who had recalled councillors and Members of Parliament, accusing them of supporting his nemesis Nelson Chamisa, leading to the holding of by-elections to fill the vacant seats.
Although ZANU-PF still holds majority in parliament, the CCC managed to scoop a larger chunk from last Saturday’s elections, taking home 19 of the 28 national assembly seats and 75 council seats while the ruling party took the remainder.
ZANU-PF maintained its dominance in rural areas while at the same time managing to wrestle some seats in urban areas previously held by the opposition, while the CCC retained most of the seats previously held by the opposition.
Analysts who spoke to the Review and Mail, strongly believe that the recent electoral contestation clearly made the 2023 harmonised elections a two-horse race between ZANU-PF and the CCC.
They argue that current political discourse, which was precipitated by the just-ended by-elections has left no or little space for a serious political party and will go down in history as an event which ushered the MDC into the political graveyard.
Analyst Rejoice Ngwenya argued that as much as the MDC-T has well defined structures and members who may want to attempt to campaign for the 2023 elections, what remains of its leadership especially with Mwonzora at the helm, will not be able to help the party score anything come 2023.
“One assumes MDC-T has structures so its members will attempt to campaign in 2023. However, his self-esteem and self-confidence have been severely dented. It is possible that his own members may pass a no-confidence vote for his removal. MDC-T has little ground swirl to win anything in 2023. As for joining the CCC, it is impossible. He has an ego and pride. He does not have that sort of humility. If CCC members resent Khupe, they would spit on Mwonzora,” said Ngwenya.
Another analyst, Munjodzi Mutandiri believes that no matter how much the MDC-T may try to wriggle and twist, its death is certainly written in stone and the 2023 elections will mark its burial.
“Douglas Mwonzora has effectively joined the Taurai Mutekis of our politics. The 26 March by-election will go down in history as the event that buried what was once a great movement and source of hope for many Zimbabweans. Fortunately, politicians are some of the people that can be very arrogant even against facts,” reckons Mutandiri.
“It’s always good to say never with politicians but it looks almost written in stone that the MDC-T is dead and will be buried in the 2023 elections. It’s also likely, that a number of people that had stuck with Mwonzora will look for new political homes in either the CCC or ZANU-PF.”
Kudakwashe Munemo weighed in and argued that the MDC-T had reached the end of its road as a judicially constructed party that had no organic support and endorsement from the people.
“Mwonzora as leader of the party which performed dismally to the extent of failing to even bring about confusion which would have garnered them some significant votes. Mwonzora has gone to the grave, with what remained of the judicially constructed party and he may not be humble enough to join the CCC,” said Munemo.
South Africa based political analyst Gideon Chitanga concurred with Munemo and claimed that the fate of the MDC-T was always doomed from the onset because it was a faction that was not formed through an organic system or independent social base.
“What was proven is that the MDC-T was rejected because it did not have a proper social base or formed through an organic system or process of forming a political party, it’s a faction that emerged from a legal process,” Chitanga said.
“Mwonzora only managed to lead his party through a legal process and not necessarily through an organic process of building a party. So the MDC-T was never an organic party that was formed or emerged from an organic system.”
Chitanga however advised the opposition parties to not celebrate the fall of one of their own but rather form electoral pacts which give them enough momentum to face off with ZANU-PF in 2023.
“In a multi-party democracy, the more political parties you have the better it is in the system. Though the CCC legitimised itself as a bona fide legitimate opposition in Zimbabwe. The main goal of the CCC is to win political power and even though they legitimised themselves, but not necessarily as the main alternative to ZANU-PF or in a position to take power from the ruling party,” he said.
“So going forward, they might need to broaden their political base and one way of doing that is to build alliances with other opposition political parties including the Mwonzora faction. Chamisa might have to be magnanimous in being the main leader of the opposition and create room for dialogue so that those leaders who want to form some kind of an opposition coalition can be able to do that, he said.”