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Zimbabwe’s election has sent a strong message to Cameroon’s opposition. No coalition, no win for the opposition


The result of Zimbabwe’s first elections without Mugabe were released yesterday 3 August, with the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa winning the presidential elections with 50.8%, and his ZANU-PF party securing a landslid ¾ majority in parliament.

The utopia that Nelson Chamisa, the key opposition leader,  could chart a winning strategy for his party, were dashed as the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe’s Election Commission (ZEC) loudly and comfortably read the election results in favour of ZANU-PF.

Before the results were released, Chamisa had written on tweeter: “THANK YOU ZIMBABWE …I’m humbled by the support you have given to me as a Presidential Candidate. We have won the popular vote. You voted for total Change in this past election! We have won this one together. No amount of results manipulation will alter your WILL #Godisinit”. But as they say, reality has its way of waking us up.

Chamisa lost the elections for several reasons. But two stand out clear, as well as relates to the Cameroonian political experience. First, the failure by the opposition to form a broad and united coalition meant a poorly funded party, relative to ZANU-PF, was competing against a party that used state resources to further Emmerson’s interest. The point is, No broad and united coalition No win for  opposition.

Chamisa and other opposition figures in Zimbabwe failed to heed to pundits’ calls for the opposition to form a coalition of opposition parties. All key opposition figures wanted to be president, and non was ready to step-down for the other.

As Zimbabwe’s Daily News reported “Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC believe[d] its leader is the natural leader for the coalition, while Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party believes the former vice president of Zimbabwe has the might to lead the coalition…”

That is even after a top Zimbabwe Political Commentator Maxwell Saungweme  said a coalition was the only way to protect the people’s interest and Zimbabwe’s democracy against ZANU-PU. But he agreed that “Unless these [opposition parties] individual interests find convergence, I am doubtful a strong coalition will be born”. Their interest did not converge. ZANU-PF won the elections, and they all lost.

Besides, the refusal to form coalitions, internal party in-fighting explains the elections outcome in Zimbabwe.  Obert Gutu, former spokesperson for MDC, has accused Chamisa of fathering the party’s loss in the July elections. According to Gutu, the decision to expel Thokozani Khupe from the MDC-T party partly explains the opposition failure.

Speaking to he said “We were taken to court, some of us. Our erstwhile colleagues said they had fired us from the party. Of course, wrongly, unlawfully, so when you say this gamble, that question should be put to those people who purportedly dismissed us but now the chickens have come home to roost”.

Cameroon will be heading to presidential elections in October 2018, with the 82-year-old president Paul Biya seeking to extend his mandate for another seven years. With a divided opposition, and firm military control of social, political and economic activities, the opposition will likely loss the elections where more than 10 candidates will be clamoring with false  hope to unseat Biya.

Although Zimbabwe is socio-culturally and historically different from Cameroon, politics in Zimbabwe since the country gained independence in 1980 is similar in several ways to that of Cameroon.

First, both countries have had one-party dominant electoral systems since independence. ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe and CPDM in Cameroon (formerly Cameroonian National Union).

Further, the repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially military, with facades of compliance with the rules of law is a defining feature of the political landscape in Cameroon and Zimbabwe.

But more importantly, Zimbabwe and Cameroon both have a zealous and illusion opposition. 23 parties contested the July 2018 presidential elections in Zimbabwe and more than 10 have already registered to partake in the upcoming October 2018 Presidential elections in Cameroon.

In Cameroon, Maurice Kamto’s call for a coalition have been dashed by Cabral Libril and Joshua Osih without any profound consideration. The 49-year-old businessman and enthusiastic Joshua Osih has emerged to take over as the leader of SDF from its charismatic leader, John Fru Ndi. Osih has failed to make any declaration about formation coalitions with Akere Tandeng Muna and his internationally connected NOW movement, nor with Maurice Kamto who Osih descibes as a CPDM stooge. We can say with little doubt that, like MDC-T party, SDF believes Osih should be the natural leader of any coalition.

Besides, there have been several reports of political infighting within the SDF, especially in Kumba and littoral. Maurice Kamto has been accused of silencing competition and creativity within MRC. While Atanga Nji has hijacked CPP of Edith Kah Walla. UPC is in disarray as some sections of the party chose to support the Biya’s led CPDM party, while others choose to maintain the party’s independence from the corrupt and inefficient regime.

Emmerson Manangwa’s supporters will be celebrating the ZANU-PF win in the recent elections in Zimbabwe. Cameroonians should be concern, for the scepter of the elections, hovers over Cameroon. f the opposition in Cameroon is serious to win the upcoming elections, they should heed from these two lessons.