In the wake of failed talks between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, and the ruling ZANU-PF, the former has been criticised for expending so much energy on attempts to delay national elections until political reforms are in place.
At a February 21 press conference in Johannesburg, both factions of the MDC made it clear the mediation process, led by South African president Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, SADC, had died a death because of the Zimbabwean government’s preemptive move to call elections before measures to ensure they were free and fair could be put in place.
One commentator based at the University of Zimbabwe said the opposition needed to get into gear and prepare for the elections.
“The best they can do for themselves is to mount a vigorous campaign for their supporters to vote,” said the analyst, who did not want to be named. He said it would be “suicidal” for the MDC to contemplate a boycott this late in the day, pointed out that “there are already other smaller parties and individuals ready to take the MDC’s place”.
Another political analyst said the MDC should be focusing on the electoral process and specifically the “command centre” in charge of running the ballot.
“This is where the results will be decided,” he said. “The MDC is wasting time focusing on dates and talks which have already failed. The voting will be done in Zimbabwe and that is where rigging will take place if the opposition loses its focus.”
The two MDC factions had, he said, “weakened their position and squandered public sympathy by failing to unite to fight a single common enemy”.