Imagine Zimbabwe going to the elections, and as has become the custom, the revolutionary Zanu PF party wins, but delays putting in place a government for two or three months.
It will be considered a “crisis”.
The terms “political crisis” and “constitutional crisis” have been abused by some “omniscient” academics and politicians in Zimbabwe.
They find solace in verbosity instead of reality in their attempt to project the negativity of the homeland.
But somewhere in Western Europe a post-millennial crisis is developing that they don’t want to talk about the same way they talk about Zimbabwe.
A political cataclysm inflicts an incalculable rhythm on Europe which erodes all perceived human and material progress.
Majority rule is threatened in Europe. Across this continent, coalition governments today harm the political parties that join them and the people who expect them to lead political and government policy.
Most European countries are ruled by coalition governments. They too are a common electoral outcome in many parts of the world.
In this governmental framework, big and small, the winning and losing parties have the opportunity to participate in the government and even to occupy important ministerial positions.
Unfortunately, not all coalition governments have lived up to expectations.
The European Union (EU) has seen itself for years as an important player in promoting democracy in African countries, but it is starting to drift into the depths.
If a government falls, hardly anyone hears it. The way Americans start to panic, such as when their government drifts into a shutdown, underscores the importance of what governments should do to serve the people.
Similar trends of falling coalition governments are occurring in Europe and no one has been there to give them ultimatums and threats over the fierce urgency to serve the people.
A 2011 survey in Britain, when Tory Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg were deputy to the former, found coalition governments to be “weaker, less decisive and more confused “.
More specifically, coalition governments create instability and lead to a “political crisis”.
History is replete with cases of government instability in Western Europe in the 20th century.
The post-WWI Weimar Republic in Germany comes to mind. In the post-WWII era, the French Fourth Republic experienced government instability due to coalition governments.
Also in Italy, post-war governments until 1994 lasted only a maximum of 40 percent of their planned time, a short timeframe compared to a European average of around 60 percent.
In Poland, a right-wing coalition collapsed in August after Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki sacked the leader of a junior coalition party, casting doubt on the government’s future.
Likewise, earlier this year in Italy, an administration led by Giuseppe Conte collapsed after former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his small Italia Viva party from the ruling coalition. These developments occurred at the height of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Among the countries most affected was Italy.
These patterns are historic and their continued recurrence implies that the system of coalition government creates anxiety among citizens, businesses and other critical sectors of the economy.
In 2011, Belgium won a Guinness World Record for spending the most time without a government – 589 days without a government.
In the Netherlands, the country has now gone 205 days without a government. In the same country, in 2002, a government collapsed after just 12 weeks in power following a row within the party of right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn.
Germans are also becoming aware of political uncertainty after the results of last month’s federal election indicated a deadlock between that country’s two main political forces, the German Social Democrats and the conservatives of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, Christians -democrats.
Merkel’s party lost and German Social Democratic Party winner Olaf Scholz told supporters the goal was only to send Merkel’s outgoing party to the opposition benches.
The irony of these elections and governments is that the biggest party is not guaranteed to form a government and that the negotiations between the different parties are expected to last for months, with Merkel to remain acting chancellor until the formation of the ‘a new government.
It is, however, a likeness of a great betrayal to the citizens.
These developments have contributed to an astonishing democratic collapse in Europe as the will of those who vote is often subverted by colossal violations.
Closer to home, when the Second Republic of Zimbabwe inaugurated the New Dispensation in November 2017, certain political elements began to create narratives around the idea of a “coalition government in Zimbabwe”.
For some, it was an opportunity to be in power to the detriment of an internal Zanu PF process that had been put in place following the resignation of the late former President Robert Mugabe.
But Zimbabwe has had experiences of coalitions as unsustainable and unrelated to the country’s political development.
One example is the constant and ongoing feud between the partners and the state’s lack of ideological clarity on what it stands for. The Zimbabwe coalition during the Government of National Unity (GNU) 2009-2013 presented classic problems.
When it was created, those starting their first experience in government had no knowledge of the parameters of their portfolios.
Then ICT Minister Nelson Chamisa once had a fight with Information Minister Webster Shamu over what tasks the former had to perform.
In other cases, the GNU creates intolerance because some politicians did not attend meetings in defiance of the spirit of national unity.
Other circumstances also saw the then Prime Minister refusing to attend the funeral of national hero Misheck Chando at the National Shrine, clearly rejecting the contribution of the hero’s contribution to the country’s independence.
Some of these experiences clearly marked “coalitionism” as a stranger to Zimbabwean political development.
Since the 2018 election, sections of the local media have created accounts of late-stage “coalition government talks” without questioning whether the country’s constitutional configuration warrants it.
Do the current circumstances in Zimbabwe justify a GNU? Are Zimbabweans unhappy with a one-party system of government?
Developments in Western Europe regarding coalition governments provide insight into their dangers.
As the 2011 survey in Britain revealed, “coalitionism” is a weakness in governance.
As Zimbabwe looks towards Vision 2030, the People’s Party mandate must be continually displayed through people-centered development projects, economic reconfiguration and social advancement.