The hotly contested election in Zimbabwe has come and gone. Zimbabwe’s patriarch, Robert Mugabe has been declared the winner in the Presidential election by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the body that controls elections. This “win” has created a dilemma for the opposition, which has been left with a few options.
The first option is for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to challenge the electoral outcome via the courts. Indeed, Morgan Tsvangirai, told a press conference that his party will approach the courts. But, there are difficulties with this move. Not only have the Zimbabwe courts been accused of partisan, with most of the judges having been appointed by President Mugabe and also benefiting from Zanu–PF patronage networks, historically, few significant rulings have been made in favour of the MDC.
The second option is to hope that MDC supporters initiate a political protest, as in Egypt, in an attempt to force President Mugabe to step down or consider a rerun of the election. This is unlikely considering the heavy handedness in which security sector has handled previous protests.
The third option is to appeal to the regional bodies of Southern African Development Community, and the African Union (AU) so that they can ask President Mugabe to seriously consider a rerun. As it appears, SADC and the AU appear to have endorsed the electoral outcome, and at the weekend, the South African President, Jacob Zuma who until recently has been critical of the President Mugabe sent a congratulatory message to the elderly stateman for having won the election. To SADC, AU and South Africa, as far as the Zimbabwe problem is concerned, it is solved.
Fourth, the MDC has stated that they will not participate in national institutions; for example, MDC winners in this election might not to take up their seats in the local councils, parliament and senate. This approach is problematic at two levels. First, it has the potential to split the party, as those members who won might decide to take up their positions in government institutions. Second, President Mugabe’s party will certainly go ahead and run the country without the MDC. Zanu–PF has always wanted a one party state, and it will not be surprising if they use this as an opportunity to seriously consider governing without the opposition.
The fifth, and most realistic option is for the MDC to ensure that it survives this defeat. It is an open secret that Zanu–PF is keen on crowding out other political parties from Zimbabwe’s political space. By winning a majority in parliament the machinery has already been set in motion to destroy Morgan Tsvangirai’s party. And, this long term dream of the revolutionary party might be realisable if the MDC does not regroup quickly.