ZANU-PF is also managing to elevate young people at a faster rate that the once youthful opposition party.
Following the rise of the citizen movement in 2016, led by political newcomers such as Pastor Evan Mawarire, the opposition had a unique opportunity to bring this popular charge under the MDC-T banner.
But it missed the chance, and now several of the movement’s leaders have announced their intentions to run as independents.
The MDC, with its focus on human rights violations, is currently failing to address the immediate bread and butter issues affecting the supporters it needs.
It has struggled to provide ideas beyond its mantra of “Mugabe Must Go”, which doesn’t resonate as it once might have done, and it lacks the resources to win urban votes.
In poor areas, the party is perceived to be weak on land reform.
It is seen to be lacking in ideas regarding resettlement, an issue that is particularly pertinent among young people who are eager to move out of overpopulated areas.
Its pledge this April to create “a $100 billion economy within the first 100 days” if elected was laughed off as the pipedream of a policy-deficient party.
The MDC can still be effective, and the 2018 elections are still a year away.
But despite Zimbabwe’s economic troubles and the ruling party’s own various internal problems, it appears to be ZANU-PF’s race to lose unless the opposition can find a way to rejuvenate its messaging and engage with voters in the way it once managed to in the 2000s.
By Chipo Dendere. This article first appeared in African Arguments