By Darlington Nyambiya.
It has finally dawned on Zimbabwe’s Opposition parties that Zimbabweans and the international community are demanding for a United Opposition that will have the best chance of ending Zanu PF’s 37 year rule of Zimbabwe. As the 2018 Elections come closer, it is now not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’ the Grand Coalition will be formalised.
The major hurdle to the formation of a Grand Coalition in Zimbabwe has now been anchored on the question of ‘how to select the Presidential Candidate?’ If the process to select the Presidential Candidate for the Grand Coalition is not handled in such a manner that the outcome is not satisfactory to all parties concerned then it will become a source of confusion and division amongst the Opposition.
Kenya and Gambia’s opposition have used two different models for selecting a Presidential Candidate for the Grand Coalition. Zimbabwe’s Opposition parties can reflect on these two different types of models to select the Presidential Candidate for the Grand Coalition. The above two models for selecting the Grand Coalition Presidential Candidate are as below:
Kenya Nomination Process:
Veteran politician Raila Odinga will represent Kenya’s opposition alliance in the presidential election on 08 August 2017, his fourth time as a presidential candidate. His nomination was announced by leaders of the National Super Alliance, known by its acronym NASA.
In an acceptance speech, the 72-year-old former prime minister, the loser in Kenya’s last two presidential polls, pledged to lower food prices and tackle corruption. He has also promised public sector reforms and stronger local government.
The political party leaders in Kenya’s National Super Alliance set down and negotiated amongst themselves on the person who had the best chances of beating the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 2017 elections. The opposition leaders chose to go with the Presidential Candidate who had the following attributes:
- Experience in competing in presidential races
- Popular amongst Kenyans
- Largest support base
- National Appeal
- Unification Candidate
- Reputation for fighting against dictatorship
That candidate nominated was Raila Odinga. And from the Zimbabwe perspective; opposition leaders could negotiate and nominate a Presidential Candidate with the best chance of beating President Mugabe in the 2018 Elections. The Coalition Presidential Candidate should have the following attributes:
- A Uniting Candidate
- National Appeal
- Clean candidate not tainted by corruption or looting
- Sold track record of fighting the ruling party
- Country wide Support Base
- Have Confidence of most Zimbabweans
The above attributes would narrow down the selection process to a single person who would then be nominated as the Presidential Candidate of the Grand Coalition for the 2018 Elections. The outcome of this process will likely produce a Presidential Candidate with the best chance of beating President Mugabe in the 2018 Elections.
Gambia Election Process:
Following months of dialogue, six opposition parties in The Gambia elected Mr Adama Barrow to be their ‘Independent Presidential Candidate in the December 2016 presidential poll. Mr. Barrow pulled three hundred and eight votes out of the four hundred and eighty-five of the total valid vote cast.
According to Barrow the coalition was demanded by the Gambian people to unite and end the 22 years of dictatorship in the country. He pointed out that the urgency is to salvage the country which is on cross roads.
As in the Gambia, the now national President Adama Barrow’s was elected by the majority of delegates at the coalition’s convention. The Election Model brings legitimacy and inspiration on the coalition candidate to inspire and motivate the public to vote for him or her. The cornerstone for the election of a Coalition Presidential Candidate would be anchored on:
- Agreement on the Coalition Electoral College
- Coalition Electoral College would reflect the membership of each political party.
- Agreement on the Cut off date for membership that qualifies for Coalition Electoral College
- Independent Auditor to verify paid up membership of each political party
The Election Model will likely elect the most popular leader to be the Presidential candidate of the Grand Coalition. An elected Coalition Presidential Candidate with the full support of all opposition parties is likely to re-energise the 2018 Elections and bring people to the voting booth.
At the end of the day as seen in Kenya and Gambia; both the nomination and election models for selecting the Coalition Presidential Candidate will likely have a similar outcome. Both processes will likely produce the strongest and most popular Presidential candidate that will have the best chance to beat President Mugabe or Zanu PF’s Presidential Candidate for the 2018 Elections.
The main ingredient in both the nomination and election process is that once the selection model has been agreed, all political parties have to support the process from the beginning to the end and unite behind the Coalition Presidential Candidate in the 2018 Elections.
The Writer : Darlington Nyambiya is the President of the Local Solutions Council (LSC) , a leading Zimbabwe Think Tank. The LSC is a Think Tank with members from diverse Zimbabwean communities in politics, business , religion and sports. He is also a Pro Democracy Activist , Political Strategist , Human Rights Defender , Social Media Commentator , Writer, Preacher and a Business Executive. , Twitter handle: D_Nyambiya, Email : email@example.com , Corporate Twitter Handle : lsc_thinktank ,Website : www.localsolutionscouncil.com. © 2017 All Rights Reserved. The Article may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission