Former US Ambassador to Zim Tips Zanu PF to Win 2018 Polls

Former United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray believes Zanu PF has the potential to defeat a divided opposition party line-up in the 2018 elections.

Presenting before US Foreign Affairs Committee on the post Robert Mugabe era in Washington DC on Wednesday, Ray cited divisions within the opposition as the biggest setback that could hinder their chances against what he termed a ‘united Zanu PF’

“Mnangagwa’s second priority, I believe, will be to ensure ZANU-PF’s continued control of the reins of power in the country. If he can somehow pull all the ZANU factions together, and overcome the possible threat from Mujuru, he will have to decide whether or not to proceed with elections in July 2018. He has indicated that he will do so.

“While violence and chicanery are still possibilities that can’t be cavalierly dismissed, a united ZANU-PF is likely to be able to do well against the current opposition party lineup,” said Ray.

He poured cold water on prospects of an opposition coalition saying there is little chances of them merging to form a strong movement that could unseat the ruling Zanu PF.

“As the parties that pose the greatest challenge to ZANU-PF in the urban areas, if they were united, they might do well, but it is unlikely that they will merge.

“The remainder of the opposition parties, with the exception of ZIM-PF, will only take votes away from MDC, which is to ZANUPF’s advantage. In the rural areas, ZANU-PF has, in the past at least, had an advantage, and Mnangagwa is sure to capitalize on this,” added Ray.

Dr Chipo Dendere, a Zimbabwean political scientist and visiting Assistant Professor
at Amherst College in the United States of America noted that Zanu PF was unlikely to usher in a democratic system that respects civil liberties adding that the death of MDC-T President, Morgan Tsvangirai was unlikely to spur democratic growth in the country.

“It is unlikely that the new ZANU PF government will usher in a democratic system that alleviates poverty and respects civil liberties. It is also unlikely following the death of key opposition figure Morgan Tsvangirai that the opposition will spur democratic growth,” said Dendere.

 Elizabeth Lewis, Regional Deputy Director Africa Division for the International Republican Institute (IRI) said opposition parties in Zimbabwe have been in a state of disarray since the 2013 elections adding that a strong opposition is needed to block a two thirds majority in parliament which she feared could lead to amendment of the constitution that could grant additional powers to the President.

“Zimbabwe’s fractured political opposition is represented by several loose and evolving coalitions of political parties from both the historical opposition – including Tsvangirai’s MDC-T – and defectors from ZANU-PF, including Joice Mujuru and her National People’s Party.

“To date, the three main opposition coalitions – the MDC Alliance, People’s Rainbow Coalition, and Coalition of Democrats (CODE) – have been unable to unite under a single cohesive electoral and governing coalition.

Opposition parties have been in a state of general disarray since the 2013 elections. The days immediately surrounding Tsvangirai’s death have put a spotlight on MDC-T’s internal challenges to unify and compete for votes in just a few short months.

She was optimistic that Tsvangirai’s funeral had reinvigorated many opposition supporters who turned up clad in party regalia though that was shadowed by violent scenes targeted at vice President Thokozani Khupe and Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora.

“While Tsvangirai’s funeral reinvigorated many opposition supporters—bringing out thousands dressed in MDC-T’s signature red color— violence and harassment targeting Vice President Thokozani Khupe, Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora and other senior party leaders cast a shadow over the occasion,” said Lewis.

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