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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Tsvangirai stumbling block to democracy

By Blessing Vava
In happier times-Tsvangirai and Eliza at their 'mock'
The embarrassing defeat of Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDCt by ZANU PF in last year’s July 31 polls have sent Zimbabwe’s opposition politics into disarray and in a statement of disillusionment. The ‘democratic front’ is disbanded. The opposition’s failure to work together to defeat ZANU PF was a great tragedy and now, its seemingly a toll-order as all the opposition parties in Zimbabwe are in quandary. After constantly accusing Israel based company NIKUV of rigging the elections in favour of ZANU PF, the main opposition party, MDCt failed to substantiate their claims with some senior party officials openly accepting that the party’s defeat had nothing to do with NIKUV whatsoever. Rather they blame it on lack of cohesion, a disconnection in the manifesto of the party and its grassroots support base; poor mobilisation strategies; above all, they cite bad leadership style and humiliating personal conduct of their President Morgan Tsvangirai. For years since its formation, the MDC had become a people’s hope for a new Zimbabwe, a new Zimbabwe governed through democratic means characterised with a return to the rule of law, something alien to ZANU PF.

Then leader of the other faction -Mutambara
In 1999,  the National Working Peoples Convention, gathered workers, students, churches and peasants, and gave birth to an opposition party, the MDC to challenge ZANU PF’s hold on power. We all know that one of the main slogans in the 2000-2002 elections was dubbed ‘Mugabe Must Go,’ and the reasons were clear.  Mugabe had manipulated the constitution to have an unlimited term as Executive president. It was apparently clear that the calls for him to go, despite his misrule, were his failure to address the issue of leadership renewal and succession. Those who dared Mugabe like Zvobgo and Mavhaire were dealt with. President Mugabe has been ZANU PF’s leader since time immemorial, leadership renewal, and succession is forbidden in ZANU PF.
So the opposition gained sympathy from a lot of democracy-loving Zimbabweans because it was preaching a different hymn that of a president with limited terms, one that respects the constitution, a leader who accepts divergence of views above all a political party that does not engage in acts of violence and corruption. That is why even in the 2000 parliamentary elections and subsequently the 2002 presidential elections the MDC shocked ZANU PF despite the unfairness of the playing field. Violence, intimidation and alleged rigging characterised those polls. In the MDC, Zimbabweans saw hope, they saw a new culture of politics different from the one they had been accustomed to since ZANU PF took over from independence. However, the behaviour of the MDCT over the years mutated, cloning itself into an undemocratic outfit just like ZANU PF. Perhaps they went through an ‘apprenticeship’ from 2009 to 2013, July 31st at the hands of ZANU PF. The trail of disaster as a result of their leader’s undemocratic tendencies over the years has been a derailment to the attainment of a new Zimbabwe as envisaged by the NWPC. The 2005 split of the party was a major setback to the democratic struggle. The party’s internal democratic systems were put to test, and resultantly the national council of the MDC then voted for participation in the Senate polls, a decision which was later overruled by the party, President Morgan Tsvangirai. To be frank, Tsvangirai’s undemocratic and dictatorial tendencies manifested as he unilaterally reversed the decision of the National Council.  Funny enough, Tsvangirai chose to call his faction MDC-Tsvangirai, marking the birth of cultism that is now haunting the MDC until today. It is this ‘t’ that has become problematic in the MDC.

Tsvangirai's heaven on earth

As if not enough, apart from adopting Tsvangirai’s name, the faction shockingly put his face on the party’s insignia. Something absolutely wrong and detrimental to our politics, the MDCt has indeed become a ‘personal’ project, from the name, the symbols and the internal dynamics hogging the party. The idea of setting up the movement was never around creating a demi-God the same way that Mugabe has become an embedded cult in our politics. I have heard on several occasions, statements like Tsvangirai is the face of the struggle, Tsvangirai is the only one to defeat Mugabe, I’m the Main Actor to mention but a few. Ahhh!! There is no-one who was anointed to lead, cultism must stop, leaders must come and go, there is nothing special about Tsvangirai, and the struggle for democracy does not end with him. If anything he has stalled the democratic agenda.

Now that the party lost again in 2013, is a clear show of leadership deficiency, signs of fatigue and above all lack of confidence that the MDC is the long-awaited real vehicle or political nemesis to deliver us from ZANU PF’s misrule. A change of tactics, behaviours and attitudes is a necessary precondition for the political survival of the MDC. If Tsvangirai and crew were to read those resolutions carefully they must surely see fault and be ashamed of their present status. The MDC has become his personal project and anyone who dares challenges Tsvangirai will face the full wrath of some good-for-nothing fellows whose political survival is tangled on Tsvangirai’s shoelaces, for their tongues are always cleaning the bosses’ shoes. In a similar manner, the decision by Tsvangirai to cling to the MDC presidency is not in the national interest but a move to safeguard and root his self-aggrandisement drive. The nation should be asking what is so peculiar about the Highlands state-owned property that Tsvangirai has decided to privatise, if given an opportunity to reside at state house Tsvangirai will own it!!!! Those who are suppressing the succession debate are only doing so for their immediate selfish ends.  
From the issues raised by Elton Mangoma, no-one including Luke Tamborinyoka has dared to respond, rather they are skating around the issues in defence of Tsvangirai, whom they will soon declare life ‘president’ even at the expense of MDC support base and founding principles. Lest this be misconstrued the call for the step down of Tsvangirai is progress for the democracy but I fail to get the reasoning behind creating the option or post of Founding President, Tsvangirai and Mugabe must simply GO!!! The MDC is now just another cultist outfit with Tsvangirai as its life leader. The danger is that, and indeed, Tsvangirai will not go for a congress soon, he will attempt to consolidate his power, purge all opponents and surround himself with unprincipled bootlickers further rendering the MDC weak and facing another clobbering defeat in 2018 that will signal the end of its existence. One wonders what happened to the term limits as espoused in the MDC founding constitution – of course, the cultists have chosen to deliberately misinterpret the clause to mean state term limits.  As we face the 2018 elections the opposition parties and their subsidiaries have a mammoth task, as it stands they seem not to have a clear agenda to mobilise the masses and win elections and also transform our economy, improve service delivery for our country to prosper.  If 2018 is going to be of any hope to the party, the MDC needs to re-engage the principles set out in the NWPC and embark on a mass cleansing of cultism lest 2018 represents the unveiling of its tombstone after 5 years of death. Zvazviri!

NB: Views expressed in this article are personal. Please acknowledge the link should you wish to use this article.

Blessing Vuvuzela Vava writes from Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com, Twitter @blevava