Prior to Mugabe’s ouster, there were hopes the opposition would form a united front, but disagreements between Tsvangirai and former vice-president Joice Mujuru over who would lead the coalition scuppered these efforts.
The MDC-T, still the biggest opposition party, also further fragmented following Tsvangirai’s passing. After his death, it was unclear who should succeed him.
In this vacuum, Nelson Chamisa, a former student union activist who leapt onto Zimbabwe’s political scene in 2003 as the country’s youngest MP at the age of 25, emerged as the new leader somewhat unconstitutionally.
His main rival and party vice-president Thokozani Khupe was ousted and has now established her own breakaway party.
Some opposition parties are still banding together. This includes the MDC-T under Chamisa, factions led by former finance minister Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube as well as parties such as ZANU-Ndonga and Zimbabwe People First.
This alliance is hoping to cause an upset in July. However, it faces the critical challenge of convincing voters that its leaders would be trustworthy alternatives to the status quo and that the coalition has a viable alternative vision.
This group is also promising change. But led by familiar and all-male faces, they will struggle to present themselves as a breath of fresh air, while they have so far failed to present concrete policies in promising economic growth and job creation.
For the most part then, July will have to be a choice between a familiar-looking ruling party and familiar-looking opposition. However, for some voters, there may be an alternative option on the ballot paper.
In an attempt to bypass chaotic national politics, a number of independent candidates have emerged at the local level.
The prominent lawyer Fadzayi Mahere, for example, is running to be a member of parliament in Mt Pleasant, Harare.
The 32-year-old vows to represent “every individual who is fed up with the status quo, rising to be counted”.
If elected, she has promised to run local programmes such as business training workshops, free health and legal clinics, and community clean-up campaigns.
Mahere has actively distanced herself from “party politics and party squabbles” at the national level and focused her campaign on local concerns.
There are also eleven candidates competing as part of a new citizen coalition known as People’s Own Voice (POVO).
They are running for local government in wards across Harare. Their campaigns focus on restoring the capital, improving transparency, and increasing the accessibility of health and education services.
Continued next page