The Sunday News
Elections are supposed to be an iterative decision-making process.
In the 2018 Zimbabwe elections, citizens approached the election judging the performance of Zanu-PF’s government and the promises of the multiple opposition parties while considering which party would best represent their political values in the future.
This dynamic process is the very foundation of democracy, confirming how democratic Zimbabwe has become.
Embedded in this electoral process is the presumption that changes in election outcomes substantially reflect continuity or change for the surviving parties.
Of interest to Zimbabwe at the moment is that we are sure of Zanu-PF’s continuity but highly uncertain of the plenty Oppositions’ survival.
Bridging from a discussion I had with an esteemed Comrade, VaGono, on the subject of opposition party continuity, I decided to pen an evaluation of how Zanu-PF has no issue with political impermanence, but should focus on either change of policies or continuity of ideology for its dominance in 2023.
You may wonder why we the focus is five years later, Aah!, musambo wachinja (the subject has changed), 2018 has come and gone, like I said in 2016, #2018willtell, it has told — chine vene vacho!
Pfee! 2023 — To secure that 2023 vote, for Zanu-PF, I argue that implicit in virtually any theory of democratic elections is the idea that party vote shares change between elections or at least there is a real potential for change.
What should be noted is that elections provide the opportunity for citizens to change their party preferences and thus alter the course of government.
In addition, political parties can change their programmatic positions to attract new voters and this can be exhibited by the revolutionary party in adopting progressive ideas.
The world is changing and Zimbabwe’s survival is hinged on how we position ourselves as economic competitors without neglecting our identity, but also not losing our political correctness. This is the dilemma the ruling party is in until 2023, so, to change or to continue is the question.
On his inauguration, His Excellency E.D Mnangagwa attested to vow that he is a listening President, this confirmed by accessibility and conversations he has had with different people in our society.
This is also confirmed by his response and reportage of his decisions through popular media. For some who doubted and thought it was a pre-election campaign strategy, rest assured that conversations with the President of the Republic will continue, in the process ensuring the efficacy of accountability and transparency.
Above all, we just want to talk to the President about social issues nje!
This dispensational change so far has contributed to making his democratic government accountable and representative of public preferences. On that front, he should continue being an open President, accommodative to dissent and prepared to provide feedback on his mandate.
2018 and my unhappiness — in as much as Zanu-PF the party performed exceedingly well, I am excited about the President’s win.
I commend the reflection of a true democracy displayed by the citizens in making their choices, but I think the party should go to the drawing board and calculate the threatening areas where it lost. It is true that Zanu-PF should in 2023 regain its lost voters and
I am confident that in the Second Republic under a very strategic leadership we have seen so far, the ruling party will do a thorough audit of its electoral campaign. Following an election, it is common for political parties to engage in self-reflection to consider whether to and how to adjust in reaction to the voters’ recent decision. If parties and voters did not change their positions between elections in reaction to events and government performance, there would be little reason for an election.
To this effect I draw your attention to two key issues: voter seeking and policy driven strategies that will guarantee another sterling performance by Zanu-PF.
Between now and 2023, we shall witness cross-overs of members who had left Zanu-PF and some who would have left MDCs and as a common feature, I am obliged to argue that it is all bent on whether Zanu-PF will present itself as a voter seeking party or a policy driven institution.
In the lore and discussions of electoral politics, there is a common belief that parties strategically alter their political positions between elections to increase their vote share.
A counter position argues that political parties have distinct ideological identities and are embedded in a network of supporters that substantially restrict their freedom to significantly change the parties’ basic political positions, but the big question is; is Zanu-PF in a position that needs continuity or change in approach?
A more party-specific theory suggests that if a party loses voters in one election, there is an incentive to adjust its political profile to increase voter support in the next election. To grapple with the ambiguity of choice facing parties, Ian Budge (a political scientist) in 1994 offered a parsimonious “past election hypothesis.”
The past election hypothesis posits that parties look to the prior election both vote share and previous ideological changes for guidance on whether to change positions in the current election.
He argues that parties are more likely to move in the same ideological direction as the last time if they gained votes in the previous election. This movement may continue until there is evidence that this strategy is not working for the party, perhaps because the party overshoots its maximal policy position.
In the case of 2018 elections there is a significant share of votes that the revolutionary party has lost (urban areas) and according to electoral theorists, if a party has lost votes, there is also a greater likelihood for the party to change strategies to seek new voters. In some instances, vote losses might encourage a movement toward the centre and the median voter (undecided/ swaying voters bundle here). In other instances, a party might adopt a more distinct political position to distance itself from its nearby competitors in a multi-party system.
Ian Budge extended the past election hypothesis to argue that if parties lost votes in the last election, they were more likely to move in a different ideological direction than in the previous electoral cycle. From the look of things, I will conclude that Zanu-PF suffers from none of the above and should continue with its political ideology with which it has maximised its chances of staying in power.
In the wake of November 2017 and the shift in global economic policy tones, there is need to change dis-incentivising policies that have not afforded many Zimbabweans a decent living.
Of course, the land question is not fully answered, but what needs to be done now is ensuring its capacity utilisation, equal and fair “redistribution” and protection of property rights of any land occupant.
Of course, the indigenisation policy was meant to right the historical wealth injustices, but now we have to look at it not as a vengeance and looting makeup, but an economic policy that attracts capital, influence domestic investment and confidence in our economy and create a conducive environment of the historical race victim to thrive and be economically competent.
There is need for change in some policies and continuity in ideology. Year 2023 sangena!