Despite the discord, coalition is Zimbabwe’s only hope

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“I would rather fight it alone: Tsvangirai” was a notable headline on one of the publications in the last few days. MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is said to have voiced that his experience of the GNU taught him to stay away from coalitions.
This sentiment is corroborated by his secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora, when he says “I can confirm that the party has decided to shelve any coalition plans. We have carefully analysed the situation and realised that other opposition parties do not have much to give to the coalition in terms of following”. Some have even gone on to suggest that other parties simply want to ride on Tsvangirai’s back. We beg to differ.
True, MDC-T is the biggest opposition movement today, nobody can contest that. It is also true that the MDC-T has a huge following. The recent colourful demonstration in Harare and other rallies we have seen before, bear testimony to the fact. However, we strongly disagree with those who suggest that the idea of a coalition is to ride on someone’s back. Our perception of an effective coalition is one that brings together our collective wisdom, strengths, tools and aspirations and fight the common enemy as one.
Yes, MDC-T has every reason to be excited by the numbers that turned up for the demonstration in Harare recently but such excitement must not turn into dangerous complacency. Nobody should be fooled by the numbers. We have seen a much bigger crowd before; remember the “crossover rally” of July 2013? Mobocracy alone is not enough to dislodge an entrenched dictatorship such as Zanu PF. Rather, we need more of combined strategy, tactics and energy. We need more hands on the deck, not sometimes but always. Each of the genuine opposition movements has the potential to bring something to the coalition.
Here, we are reminded of funerals in our remote and often poor villages. When somebody dies, the word is sent around by elders, often through the traditional leader’s messenger. In no time, you see villagers trooping with all sorts of goods and items. Some would bring firewood, others bring chickens while some bring small portions of maize meal and others simply bring their voices to sing or jokes to share. These seemingly small contributions significantly alleviate the burden for the bereaved family.Advertisement

Before you know it, the deceased will be buried and it will be back to normal chores in the village again. Even those with comprehensive life or funeral insurance policies need mourners when the day comes. This analogy should be a microcosm of what a coalition could achieve for Zimbabwe. Having said that, Tsvangirai has every right of association or disassociation. He is free to proceed on his own as he has done in the past. However, it will be interesting to see what the outcome of 2018 will be, with a fragmented opposition.
Albert Einstein was not talking to himself when he said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. He also reminded us that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them”. It really takes some level of insanity to turn our backs on a grand coalition talk of which was beginning to raise some hope for our potentially nation.
Imagine the morale  boost to the electorate and psychological damage to Zanu PF if we woke up to the news that Morgan Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, Dumiso Dabengwa, Simba Makoni, Joice Mujuru and other progressive democrats have finally agreed to confront Zanu PF as a combined force and are backing one candidate for the presidency. Even those who have threatened in the past not to salute a president without war credentials would be forced to eat humble pie or at least quietly pack their bags and go. Trivial personal differences should not stand in the way of a nation. However, this is not to suggest that anyone should sleepwalk into a coalition. All parties should to carry out their due diligence but with Zimbabwe in mind. Going into a coalition preoccupied with positions, personal gain or glory will not fly.
In recent times, Zanu PF and its president, through their shameless but predictable mouthpiece, The Herald, have been making references and inferences to a grand coalition which they say is going to fail. The fact that they are talking about it, demonstrates they are deeply worried about that happening. When Tsvangirai reportedly played down the coalition, he became instant front page news in state media. This means that forces of darkness are actually celebrating the potential demise of what they fear most, a grand coalition.
Alternatively, could it be that Mugabe and the CIO are pulling the strings behind the failure of the grand coalition just as they have done before using some of our myopic leadership? To be emboldened to go it alone by numbers in a demonstration as if such numbers have not been seen before in an election is sheer naivety if not insanity. And how many of those numbers were either Zanu PF youths, CIO operatives or something else disguised as MDC? How many of those numbers are registered voters? Didn’t we see multitudes of people at Great Zimbabwe in February celebrating the emperor’s birthday? So much for numbers!
The ability to see the big picture should not evade us at this crucial juncture. This is not the time to be blinded by the archaic politics of “me, myself and I”. The democratic struggle is about Zimbabwe not individuals with inflated egos. The sooner we realise this, the better.
What has significantly changed in the MDC since July 2013 for Tsvangirai to be certain he will walk into State House come 2018?  Granted, he has made prodigious impact in the democratic struggle over the years but he still needs other players who know what he does not know and can do what he can’t do or hasn’t done.
In 2018, let us collectively get rid of Zanu PF and its thugs so we may get on with the important task of rebuilding Zimbabwe. Carelessly missing this opportunity only to be wise in retrospect will not help. 2023 is far, way too far!
Despite all the discord in political corridors, an effective grand coalition is the only hope for Zimbabwe at this point in time.
Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim Secretary General for ZUNDE. You may contact him at or