SINCE Zimbabwe’s Independence in 1980, the ruling Zanu PF has pulled out all the stops to decimate the political opposition in an effort to create a one-party state, silence dissenters and intimidate citizens.
In the aftermath of the fraudulent 23 and 24 August 2023 general elections — which were declared a monumental sham by election observer groups, including Sadc — the opposition CCC has come under massive attack.
High-placed political sources say the idea, clearly, is to dismantle the party, call by-elections and enable Mnangagwa to clinch a two-thirds majority in Parliament, which will give him latitude to amend the national constitution and grab a third term in office.
Mnangagwa is smarting from the humiliation he suffered at the ballot box in August courtesy of the CCC.
After obliterating the then MDC through Trojan horses and a compromised judiciary, Zanu PF’s calculation was that Nelson Chamisa and the opposition movement were dead and buried.
They hijacked state funding meant for the MDC, grabbed offices and other assets and quickly wrote what they imagined to be the epitaph of political opposition in Zimbabwe.
Police repeatedly banned meetings of the opposition, state spies were unleashed and the agenda of creating a defacto one-party gained momentum.
But Mnangagwa was not prepared for what happened next. Things did not go according to script.
Even with powerful state machinery at his disposal, he failed to annihilate the opposition. His two-thirds majority plan came crashing to the ground. What is more, the CCC won 99% of Zimbabwe’s urban councils, reducing Zanu PF to a rural party.
Zanu PF’s desire to create a one-party state in Zimbabwe can be attributed to several reasons. Firstly, it allows the ruling party to consolidate power and control the country’s political landscape, thus ensuring its longevity in government.
Senior Zanu PF officials have often boasted that the party will rule “until Jesus returns” or “until donkeys grow horns”. When arrogance meets impunity, the outcome can only be tragic.
By eliminating political opposition, Zanu PF can limit challenges to its authority, maintain its grip on resources, and shape policies to its advantage.
In the 1980s, right from the birth of the new republic, Zanu launched a vicious campaign designed to obliterate the opposition Zapu. Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo — later feted by the same shameless opportunists as “Father Zimbabwe” — was vilified, hounded and subjected to dastardly assassination attempts by Zanu murderers.
Secondly, the Zanu PF overlords have long concluded that a one-party state offers a more straightforward governance structure which gives them carte blanche to do as they please, because decision-making under an authoritarian polity becomes centralised within the party.
This concentration of power has allowed the ruling party to exert control over key institutions, such as the judiciary, electoral commission, and security forces, further solidifying its dictatorial rule.
Mnangagwa knows he lacks all legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Wounded and peeved, he is now going for broke. But at what cost to the long-suffering people of Zimbabwe?
This is a very dangerous game. What will happen when the citizens finally decide to stop participating in meaningless formal politics?
The repercussions are too ghastly to contemplate.