Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
AT a recent elections media training workshop in Kariba, elections expert and Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa country director for Zimbabwe, Dr Victor Shale, raised an important issue about the number of political parties in the country.
Official figures from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) indicate that there are 107 political parties in the country and Dr Shale, rightly so, feels there is everything wrong about this number.
It was his contention that Zimbabwe is too small a country for such a huge number of political parties.
Dr Shale went on to say that while Zimbabwe has faced economic problems in the past, it still remains one of the leading nations in Southern Africa and as such it should be taken seriously while its people should also take themselves seriously.
His solution was that the country needs some form of legal framework to regulate the formation of political parties that would ensure that the country is not taken for a ride by political chancers.
As per tradition, Zimbabwe has recorded the mushrooming of either political parties or presidential candidates towards the holding of national elections a situation which is not helpful to the cause of both the country and its people.
An immediate example is Mr Egypt Dzinemunhenzva who has participated in the previous elections when he has little backing. While his ambition has been a source of comic relief, an often ignored aspect is at what cost to the nation is Mr Dzinemunhenzva’s joke.
Now with 107 parties in the country, one shudders to think of the logistical headache of including all the parties in the electoral process, the majority of them unknown and are unlikely to get any significant votes.
It is important therefore that after this year’s elections, the government comes up with a mechanism that would not allow clowns to play with the time of Zimbabweans.
The most tragic issue about Zimbabwe opposition parties, however, is that even the most prominent ones like the MDC-T led by Mr Nelson Chamisa have also become a national if not international joke.
Since his rise to the helm of the MDC-T albeit under controversial circumstances, Zimbabweans have had to budget for infantile propositions as Mr Chamisa tours the country in his bid to win popular vote in the national elections.
However, Mr Chamisa was in for a rude awakening last week during the BBC HardTalk interview with British journalist Stephen Sackur who put him to task about some of his ridiculous propositions.
Sackur made reference to Mr Chamisa’s yet to be invented bullet train that he said would travel from Bulawayo to Harare in 45 minutes — about the same time it takes a plane to fly between the two cities.
In showing the absurdity of Mr Chamisa’s propositions, Sackur indicated that the presently existing bullet train’s fastest speed is just above 400km per hour yet the Mr Chamisa one, yet to be designed, would travel at double the speed.
Mr Chamisa was also exposed for his promise that he would solve the country’s cash crisis within the first two weeks if Zimbabweans vote him into power which the BBC journalist also found preposterous.
The MDC-T and MDC Alliance candidate was also forced to withdraw the lie he told party supporters at a rally that he had met US President Mr Donald Trump who promised the party $15 billion if they won the elections this year.
Sackur was very clear in giving his impression of Mr Chamisa who came across as an immature man with silly propositions that show that he lives in ‘wonderland’.
This, however, did not go down well with many sympathisers of Mr Chamisa who accused Sackur and the BBC of meddling in Zimbabwe’s political affairs.
Only that those who got angry with Sackur had conveniently forgotten that he was not the first to see Mr Chamisa for what he is.
Dr Thokozani Khupe raised it when Mr Chamisa took over the MDC-T and has said the BBC HardTalk interview has vindicated her as she has long raised issue with Mr Chamisa’s leadership qualities.
Even Engineer Elias Mudzuri who remained in the Mr Chamisa fold also cast aspersions on the leadership of Mr Chamisa months before the BBC HardTalk interview last week.
In April, Eng Mudzuri suggested that the MDC-T members had followed the wind in choosing Mr Chamisa as the late MDC-T founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s successor.
“There is a lot I can say, but he is already there and we have to find a way of working with him and to see whether we can deliver the political goods. Opinions sometimes don’t matter about public office, it is the public that judges people,” said Eng Mudzuri then.
“The only thing that I can say is he has reached 40 years. That’s the age you are allowed to become a president. And we have to work to find if we get there.”
Eng Mudzuri said Mr Chamisa’s fate would be determined by the outcome of the elections. “But if we don’t (win elections) that will be unfortunate, but people would have seen that maybe, that is when people revise what they would have done,” he said.
“People never revise when they are in a certain mode. There is a saying by Confucius a great Chinese philosopher; ‘when the wind blows all the grass bends towards the wind’. I mean the grass can only rise when the wind has stopped. But if the grass goes against the wind it will break.”
It is the height of hypocrisy therefore for Mr Chamisa’s sympathisers to attack Sackur for raising issues about Mr Chamisa that even his colleagues within the same formation have long raised.
The only difference is that while Dr Khupe and Eng Mudzuri were covered in local news platforms, the BBC HardTalk is an international platform with an international audience that has helped locate Mr Chamisa among the international community of clowns.
It can be argued therefore that Zanu-PF is the only political party whose identity is solid, ideology enduring and mandate to serve the people very clear.
The duty of every patriotic Zimbabwean therefore is backing that political party that speaks to their aspirations.