In Zimbabwe, Opposition and Uncommitted Support Grand Opposition Coalition Idea

The widely-discussed idea of a grand coalition of Zimbabwe’s opposition parties to improve their chances of defeating the long-ruling Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in next year’s elections has powerful support among partisans of the main opposition party. A slimmer majority of politically uncommitted citizens also favour such a coalition, while ZANU-PF supporters reject the idea by a 2-to-1 margin. Since 2013, the number of opposition parties has grown rapidly; there are reportedly now more than four dozen, although fewer than half a dozen are considered “serious” national parties. The disorganized state of the opposition has prompted widespread talk in opposition and civil society circles about the need for a pre-electoral “grand coalition” of opposition parties to challenge the ZANU-PF in the highly anticipated elections, expected around mid-2018. Demographic groups that normally support opposition parties are also those that are most enthusiastic about the proposed coalition. Conversely, rural areas still seem to be largely impregnable to opposition parties, which have their work cut out for them if they are to win back popular trust and a significant share of the vote – even in a grand coalition.