21 things the Zimbabwe opposition has to address to effectively compete with ZANU-PF


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5-Use resources efficiently

Hartwell says the MDC have long complained about a lack of resources but Tsvangirai’s lavish lifestyle has been under public scrutiny for some time.  “To be clear, ZANU-PF’s track record is much worse than the MDC-T with regards to corruption,” he says. “However, based on their previous behaviour, voters may well be concerned whether the opposition would act any differently from ZANU-PF had they been endowed with more resources. While the MDC-T does not have control over ZANU-PF’s corruption, they can control their own behaviour. If their goal is self-enrichment, they should continue to loot party resources, but if they truly aim to unseat ZANU-PF and to establish a government that is accountable to the people of Zimbabwe, they have to spend party resources in accordance with this goal. As the South African struggle hero Abu Baker Asvat once wrote, ‘money is temporary, honour is permanent’. Fighting for true liberation requires sacrifices.”

6-Effective internal communication is critical

“MDC-T has a mammoth problem with regards to intra-party communication. It is concerning that even high-level officials within the same party speak with different voices on the same issue – ranging from Tsvangirai’s sexcapades to sanctions removal – within a short space of time,” Hartwell argues. “Consequently, the message to lower levels and the public at large becomes distorted, creating the impression that the MDC-T members are serial flip-floppers. Therefore, the opposition needs to strengthen internal communication, especially when it comes to policies on important issues.

“One of the problems that the MDC-T has experienced even before the GNU is that party leaders were concerned about (both real and imagined) spying. They were afraid that ZANU-PF and the intelligence services had infiltrated the party and therefore they acted secretively. The result is that they were always paranoid about who knows what within the party. Nonetheless, being careful about a handful of issues is different from making sure that party officials are on the same page.”

7-Take a systematic approach rather than check-the-box

During the GNU period, the MDC-T was unable to take a systematic approach to deal with important issues. Rather, they tended to take a check-the-box approach. A systematic approach is purposeful, orderly, efficient, and organised. A check-the-box approach, in contrast, is sloppy and careless, done without much effort, and it gives the illusion that action has been taken to sufficiently deal with whatever had to be dealt with. Hartwell says the MDC-T had no systematic approach to how it engaged the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, China and Zimbabweans in the diaspora, the youth and rural voters. As an example, he gave the example of a picture posted by Chamisa in which he was sitting on a sofa wearing a suit while on a campaign in the rural areas.

8-Never assume a damn thing

Hartwell says the MDC-T should heed the advice “never assume a damn thing”. Party members have made to many decisions based on assumptions resulting in bad outcomes.  During the GNU the MDC-T did not push for the implementation of the Global Political Agreement which should have paved way for elections until after Mugabe had announced the date for the elections. Almost like the party is doing now, calling for electoral reforms three weeks before the elections.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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