An article headlined; Zimbabwe: The opposition’s urban voter problem, published in the website, africanarguments.org, adds to the strong view that the opposition MDC T and its allies no longer have a stronghold on urban voters as was the case at the turn of the new millennium.
“The MDC-T suffers from many external challenges and internal weaknesses. But at the heart of its travails lies its diminishing support particularly among urban voters . . .
Over the last four years, the MDC-T has lost key seats in previous strongholds . . . Citizens in towns and cities are frustrated with opposition politics.
Trust in opposition parties is at an all-time low. An Afrobarometer survey suggests that 30% of urbanites do not trust the opposition at all, compared to 15% in 2005 and 11% in 2011.
Meanwhile, support among the middle-class has also dropped as many have left the country . . . The MDC today looks like a weakened force, including in areas that were once its natural strongholds.
The party has failed to provide voters with policy-based solutions to their problems, while also allowing Zanu-PF to hijack its message to poor voters in peri-urban areas. The idea of a grand coalition with other opposition parties has plenty of support amongst voters, but it remains to be seen if it can be made to work.”
The arguments put forward by the above article should actually give more fire-power to the ruling party that it can actually finish off the opposition by taking back constituencies in towns and urban centres.
The message actually sits well with the Bulawayo province, which has its work cut out after President Mugabe challenged the province to make sure that it beats the opposition come the 2018 elections.
The President, speaking at a Zanu-PF Youth Interface Rally at White City Stadium last Saturday, urged the Bulawayo province to rise and claim its lost glory. President Mugabe said the Youth Interface Rally which attracted tens of thousands of party supporters resembled a reawakening of the party in a province generally regarded as a stronghold of the opposition.
“Abadala balapha vukani. Get up and regard this as an obligation, obligation to get Bulawayo on top and not allow Tsvangirai naanaKhupe to be ahead of you. Let Bulawayo regard this as a reawakening.
The meeting, this interface is a reawakening of Bulawayo, a new reawakening, a new reawakening and we shall not again be seen lacking in support of our party Zanu-PF,” he said.
President Mugabe said party leaders in the province should work their socks off to reassert the party’s dominance in Bulawayo and not allow the opposition to lead.
“We shall not allow the opposition to take the lead. No! That is a pledge we must make. If it means staying awake organising the people and sleeping only three, four hours, let’s do so. Let’s do so in the interest of our city in the interest of our people,” he said.
President Mugabe said leaders in the province should take a cue from other provinces where the party has a stronghold. Zanu-PF has six out of 12 National Assembly seats in Bulawayo. Some of the seats previously belonged to the opposition and the ruling party reclaimed them during by-elections.
The party should strengthen its structures from cell level and also make sure its members go and register to vote for next year’s elections.
There should also be regular engagements between provincial leaders, MPs and the electorate so that residents become part and parcel of the ruling party.
The President has always received massive support from the province, which means aspiring MPs can also go all the way and win. There is no excuse whatsoever why seats already in the bag should be lost come next year’s elections, instead, the number should increase as per the demands of His Excellency.