ZANU PF’s long-standing quest for political dominance in Zimbabwe has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride, filled with various failed attempts and misguided strategies. From unleashing violence in the early 2000s to coerce Zimbabweans into legitimizing their rule through the ballot box, to employing lawfare, state capture, and partisan distribution of essential resources, the ruling party’s efforts have consistently fallen flat. However, the opposition’s remarkable resilience has repeatedly thwarted ZANU PF’s ambitions of becoming a one-party state.

Recent defections by disillusioned opposition officials, coupled with attempts to infiltrate urban local services, are the latest moves in ZANU PF’s playbook. But these efforts are likely to miscarry due to a crucial shift in the political landscape. The once-apathetic populace, which ZANU PF exploited at the expense of economic progress, has awakened, rendering such desperate tactics ineffective.

Under President Mnangagwa’s leadership, ZANU PF mistakenly assumes that sponsoring defections and enticing opposition figures to join their ranks will trigger a mass exodus of loyal opposition supporters. This assumption is flawed. Those who defect are primarily career politicians seeking personal gain, betraying the struggle against tyranny rather than serving the people. Their actions only serve to stain their reputations with the indelible colors of betrayal.

In the eyes of the people residing in their respective constituencies, the scars of ZANU PF’s divisive and coercive tactics, like partisan food distribution, are still fresh. Consequently, the defectors’ motivations, driven by personal gain or power, hold no sway over communities still healing from past wounds.

ZANU PF’s attempt to gain control over local urban government operations, such as water supply and waste collection, with an eye on the 2023 elections, is unlikely to yield the expected victory. Zimbabweans remain acutely aware of the economic mismanagement and corruption that have plagued the ruling party for years. The extravagant displays of wealth by some party officials, contrasted with the dilapidated state of public services, further erode confidence in ZANU PF’s ability to govern effectively.

The people’s discontent extends to international matters, such as the president’s willingness to permit Chinese exploitation of Zimbabwean natural resources in Hwange. This lack of empathy for the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans underpins their mistrust of ZANU PF. The opposition, rooted in a people-centered agenda, remains a beacon of hope for those seeking genuine change.

Efforts by ZANU PF to impose age limits and “Patriot bills” targeting the opposition are also destined to fail. There is nothing patriotic about a ruling party that prioritizes personal interests over the welfare of its citizens. Zimbabweans are increasingly rejecting such measures as they stand united behind the opposition, which they see as the true custodian of popular will and legitimacy.

ZANU PF’s repeated attempts to stifle the opposition have hit a wall of unwavering resilience, bolstered by an awakened and engaged public. The opposition continues to enjoy the support and consent of the people, leaving ZANU PF deprived of its ambitions.

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