Letter from America 17-08-06

WASHINGTON - Many analysts have commented positively on what they saw as hopeful signs that the long-awaited unity of the opposition movement in Zimbabwe is now set to take off.
The recent meeting of opposition leaders, and their expressed interest in pooling energies to

fight Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe will come as a relief to the masses who felt the split in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leadership weakened the struggle.
There are basically two dynamics in the opposition politics. One is where opposition leaders come to a unity through a marriage of convenience resulting in jostling for power. Each partner wants a predominant influence over others and tries to impose the agenda.
In the process the momentum of a united front against the enemy gets lost as the former partners publicly trade insults as happened in Kenya.
Someone suggested that a dysfunctional unity has always been Mugabe’s dream and strategy to destroy the opposition. Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) infiltrated the opposition to the extent that the suspicion Mugabe may even have been instrumental behind-the-scenes in forging the broad alliance is plausible.
Yet there is another dynamic to unity in opposition politics. When two or more parties enter into a genuine alliance they use their respective strengths to act as checks and balances on each other. This way, no one can manipulate the other.
In the case of the unity posture exhibited by the civic society leadership recently the parties represented were of substantially different political strengths and degrees of influence.
There are very few people who doubt that Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC is by far the most popular in the country. This gives the party some extraordinary strength in the opposition politics.
Looking at the leaders who participated in the broad alliance formation there are some whose credentials have not been well-established. And the question to them will be: What exactly will be the nature of their contribution to the struggle? It will be helpful if they can itemize what they can do in confronting Mugabe.
It is therefore absolutely important that there be a serious vetting of the coalition partners.
Meanwhile, there is also a real danger that the struggle could be subverted if groups, like Mutambara’s MDC are part of the coalition because they could disown or oppose mass action, as has been the standing policy position articulated by the faction’s Welshman Ncube.
How can the broad coalition call for and implement an agenda of mass protest if Ncube, Mutambara and their colleagues in the breakaway group are pulling against the notion of mass protest?
The problem of forging a common platform under this obstinate opposition to mass action is that negotiations could take a very long time – days into weeks and weeks into months. In the process, the action against Mugabe could be halted pending the outcome of such negotiations.
What is needed is for the parties to the coalition to use whatever resources they have to keep the fire of protest alive. Lovemore Madhuku articulated well the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) position that while the organisation is involved in the formation of the broad alliance, it will meanwhile continue protests.
The same should apply to other parties or groups. Whatever plans or strategies they have for confronting Mugabe they should start or continue them.
The situation in Zimbabwe is desperate – the devaluation of the dollar and subsequent confusion brought by the cancelling of three zeros to the currency has so far created an untenable situation for Zimbabweans.
To make matters worse, thousands of failed asylum seekers face deportation from Britain. Many of these asylum seekers had become the source of support for the beleaguered Zimbabweans back home. With no hope for getting jobs any deported asylum seeker faces economic hardships, not to mention the prospect of harassment and prosecution by Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
All these events bring renewed pressures on the opposition movement to take bold, decisive steps towards mass mobilization against Mugabe. The broad coalition must not be a coalition for its sake. It must be an alliance of dedicated revolutionaries who have selflessly given themselves both by word and deed to the struggle.
The clarion call to confront Mugabe means there must be an unimpeded progress to plans for mass action. Any unity in the opposition movement must effectively promote and support mass action.

Post published in: Opinions

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