Opposition leaders should act to attain power and not sit on their laurels

Zimbabwe wants and deserves a robust opposition
Nelson Chamisa (pictured), Zimbabwe's opposition leader joins Crisis Coalition in condemning demolitions

By Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo

A Strategic Opposition should never be a crybaby but should move away from the dependency syndrome type of politics. Instead, they should transform themselves from activism into statesmanship.

What the local opposition should understand is that they are dealing with a liberation movement that is backed by security apparatus – CIOs, MID, police, military, and above all, political experience backdating to the 70s. Mnangagwa is not an ordinary leader, as many people think. He is military personnel, intelligence guru, who has led several ministries after independence. A Strategic Opposition should go back to the drawing board to do the following:

1. Accept reality, there is Leadership already in the country. Build politics from scratch, and go back and study the dynamics of politics.

2. There is a paradigm shift in Zim politics

The Mugabe type of politics and that of ED are worlds apart. These are two different types of men, though they worked together. ED indicates right, whilst he is turning left. He pretends as if he is asleep, yet he is awake, never underestimate him. He is fully in charge, but he pretends as if he has lost control. Therefore, one needs to study him, and understand him before striking. Where on earth have you seen someone being insulted left, right, and centre, and he claps his hands?

3. Keep your cards close to your chest

The problem with the opposition is that you share all your strategies are on Facebook. Whatever you think of doing is posted on Facebook. Zanu PF has already studied that, and they are very comfortable to have opposition like you. They know you are easy to handle. They are in charge of you.

4. Winning elections is not in numbers but STRATEGY

You may have the numbers, but fail to assume Presidency. You have to study your political nemesis and understand how it operates.

5. Resource mobilization

An effective opposition must have enough resources to counter the opponent’s moves and tactics, avert infiltration and manage and consolidate from within its rank and file. Honestly, how can an effective opposition campaign in the whole country with less than 5000 T-shirts? Zanu PF has over 500 Million United States Dollars, against 2 Million USD of the opposition.

6. Turn Brands into Political dividend

The major problem with opposition supporters is that they are all over. They are excited about the brands around them. You need to turn those political brands into dividends. Zanu PF is not intimidated by brands or noise made around town. Zanu PF is intimidated by strategy underground.

7. Study political matrix

Urban areas constitute 35 % of the total population, and rural areas constitute 65 % of the total population. Moreover, in urban areas, which are the main strongholds of the opposition, it’s not everyone who goes to the polling stations to cast their votes. The majority of those who sang Tsvangirai Chete Chete would be roaming around in the streets. Some go to cast their votes while some don’t. In the urban areas, it’s a 50-50 situation, whilst in rural areas, it’s Sabhuku ne vanhu vake, and it’s 100 % total participation. In rural areas, it becomes an issue if one fails to cast their vote.

8. Credible opposition thrives on Intelligence, not guesswork

If you plan something in Zimbabwe, within 10 mins, Zanu PF will be aware. In opposition, their plans are always open in the air, and anyone can get hold of them. Zanu PF thrives on Intelligence (information), and this is how a political party survives.

9. Accept Advice and Complement other people’s efforts

One of the major areas which have led to the opposition’s failure to ascend to power is the blame game. Once you speak the truth, you are labeled a CIO operative, and if you attack their leader with constructive criticism, you are labeled dzakutsaku (sell-out).

10. Shelve confrontational politics

The ruling party has all the state machinery at its disposal. They can do anything to retain power or to fight back. You won’t lose anything by engaging in Strategic engagements.

11. Turn your political Organizations into Commercial brands

You can’t just sit and say we don’t have money or resources, or wait for 2023 to source for finances. A party that got 2.6 million votes should not be suffering or failing to pay its workers or even to meet its obligations. Supposedly, you get a dollar from each person ( from the 2.6 million pool), which means every month you can get roughly 2 million USD, and you can purchase at least 15 vehicles per month for 2023, and rest into regalia, and the other chunk into investments like boutiques, saloons, youths projects, etc.

12. Modern politics is on the belly

Forget about the Chete Chete mantra. When it comes to modern-day politics, it’s all about eating food. The general question is what do I get from this? The problem with the opposition is that they assume everyone will vote for them, and they own people. This is a wrong calculation in politics. You have to work for votes. You cannot harvest where you did not sow. Today, Zanu PF has pPumvudza, Command Agriculture, Presidential Inputs Scheme, War Vet Fund, etc, versus regalia of 5000 t-shirts. This does not work.

13. Lack of Investment in Research and Development

What happened in Malawi? What happened in Tanzania? What happened in Kenya? What happened in the USA? Any delegation dispatched to those countries? How does opposition thrive in such harsh political environments? You need such case studies. Don’t assume you have won elections, you have to invest in Research and get an in-depth knowledge of modern politics, particularly those with a liberation movement background.

14. Politics, you must be ahead

Politics is dirty. It’s not a church, where people carry a Bible. In politics, expect anything. You need to be ahead of your competitor. Be ready to strike, and study the dynamics, and the matrix must be able to give you good political indicators


15. Absence of background checks

In opposition politics, they just pick randomly, without proper checks and balances. If you study the ongoing defections, it’s a result of picking cadres randomly, perhaps being attracted to the money and many other factors. By the time they realize it, the damage will be huge on their Organization

16. Once results are announced it is game over

This is where opposition parties don’t understand the matrix of politics. Whether rigging or not, once results are announced, there will be no reverse, and you have to go back to the drawing board and begin to work with what is available. Rigging claims are done soon after the announcement. Mainly it’s not a one-day event. If rigging is there, it’s not a one-day event. It’s a process, that is if it exists, it’s not an overnight event. You can’t trace, because you spend time on social media, whilst the campaign is on the heat. Zanu PF begins the campaign, two days after announcing election results.


Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is the Head of Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking – ZIST, and he can be contacted at [email protected]

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