COMMENTARY: CitizensZW Coalition Framework

COMMENTARY: CitizensZW Coalition Framework

You ask, what is our policy? We will say: It is to wage war, by thought, by protest and by the ballot box, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? We can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival. To produce a Zimbabwe that is proud strong, peaceful and vigilant against threats both internal and external.

We the citizens have nothing to offer but protest, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. Ultimately we must unburden our country of the shackles of depravity to bring us closer to the promise of a better tomorrow.


In Feb 2017 ThinkZim asked questions about the need and purpose of a coalition, to contest the 2018 General Elections. CitizensZW have come back with a proposition which ThinkZim has had opportunity to review and we have some observations. ThinkZim does not seek to denigrate, but rather refine and perhaps enhance the ideas.

CitizensZW published on 23rd March 2017 what we can only be described as a coalition framework. The document sets itself up as a foundation proposition for Zimbabwean opposition parties wishing to setup a coalition in order to contest the 2018 Zimbabwe General Elections.

The document is entitled CITIZENS CALL FOR OPPOSITION COALITION FOR 2018 ELECTIONS. Below is an extract of the CitizensZW  propositions core tenets.

CitizensZW Proposition

Click image to visit the original document

ThinkZim Challenges The Proposition

Over the next few paragraphs we will provide our own comments on the main points raised in the CitizensZW proposition

Comments on Section 4.1 Coalition President

At the time of writing and having reviewed the current crop of opposition leaders, it is a challenge to see who could be a suitable  coalition leader.

Perhaps CitizensZW could propose a draft selection criteria for a leader that may be acceptable to all parties. Perhaps defaulting to only party leaders especially from the larger parties would not be such a good idea given the recent play of political egoes.

Further, how does one define what a “viable” leader or party looks like? Perhaps a technocrat rather than a politician would be best suited for the role of Coalition Lead. By linking the selection of that person to a political party there is a risk of that more viable candidates will be missed.

ThinkZim would also recommend that the coalition president be ineligible to run in the 2023 elections. This would be a way of breaking the cycle of patronage and sycophancy that successive Mugabe governments have encouraged. Furthermore, this will mitigate against party specific nepotism or corruption in the run-up to 2023.

Finally how does CitizensZW propose that opposition parties that are part of the coalition are “encouraged” to provide continued support to the winning candidate, especially if that candidate is not to their liking. Again the issue of egoes and party bias must be addressed.

Comments on Section 4.2 Members of Parliament

The proposal should explicitly state that constituency candidates agree the post-victory strategy before going to polls. This will ensure that post-victory there is no unnecessary delay or squabbling. The entirety of the shadow cabinet should already be selected in anticipation of victory, the purpose being to speed up transition.

The outline for the new government structure should be mapped out before polling begins including the new Perm Sec’s each of whom should be given a blueprint for civil service changes over the coming period.

Comments on Section 4.4 Mandate of Coalition

This document does not go far enough in explicitly mentioning that it is critical for any coalition government to introduce a robust system of checks and balances (governance and control) that will:

  1. Re-instate the primacy of the judiciary.
  2. Curb the individual powers of the presidium and the cabinet members.
  3. Depoliticise the civil service, by initiating an independent top-down review of all civil service posts from permanent secretaries downward.
  4. Introduce a 10-15 year roadmap for infrastructure and utility resuscitation, rehabilitation and uplift for subsequent governments to follow.
  5. Transparent deregulation of the media and utilities such as power, telecoms and water.
  6.  Lay the foundations for revised land-redistribution and indigenisation programmes.
  7. Point 4.4.3 should be split into 3 distinct components.
    1. Investigations into atrocities committed during Gukurahundi, farm invasions – perhaps Zimbabwe’s version of Truth and Reconciliation Commission
    2. Review land redistribution and recommend redistribution on the basis on of ability and capability and not the physiological attributes of the applicant.
    3. Set up an independent think-tank to review ideas on how to rebuild the economy and bring back our sovereign currency.
  8. Reduce the number of parastatals through consolidation / disposal (through public sale) / disbandment.
  9. Make transparency a core principle of this and any future governments

Comments on Section 4.5 Criteria for Inclusion of Participating Political Parties

Again there should be greater clarity as to the nature of “viable”. The Proposition must include the Terms of Reference by which these viable parties and leaders will be assessed. Surely membership numbers are not the only metrics that could be used

Further, it should be made clear in this proposition that inclusion in the coalition does not automatically mean leadership or a cabinet position.

Comments on Section 4.6 Coalition Government

Again, how does one determine how seasoned a technocrat is? There are many in the diaspora who would like to return to bring their experience and knowledge to bear in the renaissance of our country. How does this selection process bring them onboard? After 36 years of stagnation and reversal, cross-pollination between those who lived through the Mugabe years and those who left can only bring good things to the development of the country. It would be useful if there was a published framework and acceptance criteria of how this would work.

In conclusion, the efforts of CitizensZW in producing their document has an apolitical feel to it that in many ways is very refreshing and we at ThinkZim encourage them to keep fighting for truly we are at war. Failure to get the planning right now can only lead to expensive challenges down the line. The hope is that the Opposition parties are listening.