MDC-T volte-face commendable

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ZIMBABWE – The opposition MDC-T party has over the past years developed a rather uncanny habit of boycotting elections, arguing that the political playing field is not level, but tilted in favour of the ruling Zanu PF. 

Although their argument could have been valid, a significant number of their followers were getting frustrated by that approach as they felt the main opposition party needed to do something about Zanu PF’s continued stranglehold on power.

Hence, the decision by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to partake in the 2018 general election, despite its congress resolution to boycott all elections until after implementation of key electoral reforms, could be a welcome change for the majority.

After all, democracy is all about jockeying for power and it is all the merrier if there are many opposition players.

Understandably, the party is caught between a rock and a hard place as participating in the election may appear to be an endorsement of the flawed electoral system on the one hand, while boycotting would seem to make the MDC-T irrelevant.

Clearly, it is better for the party to participate in all the forthcoming polls, such that by the time we get to 2018, a lot of political changes would have occurred.

The political odds are currently staked against Zanu PF in light of President Robert Mugabe’s advancing age and its attendant illnesses as well as the serious infighting threatening to tear the ruling party right through the middle.

It is true that the MDC-T can no longer afford the luxury of missing opportunities presented by the 2018 election because this may, as well, throw them into the dustbin of history, given that former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First project will likely throw down the gauntlet and stir the country’s political waters.

With the MDC-T and People First throwing their hats into the ring against the Zanu PF behemoth, it will be game-on and the result is anyone’s guess.

Even if there are not going to be significant electoral reforms within the next 12 months — which is highly likely anyway — it will be foolhardy for the MDC-T to stick to its boycott tradition. They must step into the arena and give as much as they get.

This is politics — why should Zanu PF offer the reforms on a silver platter when they are also competing in the game?

Those who described politics as dirty understood it was a men’s game. Playing it with kids gloves will not suffice.

If history is anything to go by, then the MDC-T’s hopes for electoral reforms may be misplaced. Zanu PF has always been known to remain true to form.

Although Tsvangirai may have been slammed for participating in the 2013 election knowing fully well that they would be rigged, for how long will the opposition remain playing a watching game like everybody else when they are supposed to be fighting it out with Zanu PF? Food for thought!

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