WITH inflation nearly 1 000%, unemployment more than 80% and about a third of the population in desperate need of food, Zimbabweans could do with a decent opposition to Robert Mugabe’s catastrophic tyranny.
Sadly, the Move
ment for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) have proved unequal to the task.
The MDC has split into two factions, headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, who stood against Mugabe in the 2002 presidential election, and Arthur Mutambara.
This week, after its leaders had been arrested, the ZCTU abandoned plans to stage anti-government protests.
In South Africa and Zambia, organised labour plays an important political role. The same applied to Zimbabwe in the 1990s, but today the ZCTU, through which Tsvangirai emerged to prominence, is a busted flush.
The same goes for the MDC. Mugabe’s determination to retain power, buttressed by the repressive mechanisms of the state, has proved far stronger than his opponents’ will to wrest it from him.
With the opposition crushed at home, South Africa is best placed to put pressure on Mugabe. However, President Thabo Mbeki’s attempts to facilitate the drafting of a more liberal constitution and to open a credit line in return for reforms have come to naught; the ruling Zanu PF and the MDC fell out over the proposed constitution, and Mugabe simply printed more money to pay off IMF arrears.
The main focus of interest between now and Mugabe’s departure, possibly in 2008, will be the jockeying for succession within Zanu PF.
The party is as split as the MDC: one faction is led by retired general Solomon Mujuru, whose wife, Joice, has her eye on the presidency, the other by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
If it is any solace to the opposition, controlling all the levers of power will not necessarily guarantee a handover to the old dictator’s liking. — The Telegraph.