By Sij Ncube
HARARE, 4 June, 2015 – Beleagured opposition politician Elton Mangoma has formed his new political party – Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe – a splinter group of the MDC Renewal Team party he help found a few months ago – giving credence to assertion the political formation is facing political oblivion.
Mangoma, the former treasurer general of the MDC-T, announced the formation of his political outfit on Wednesday, barely 24-hours after being suspended for alleged sexual misconduct.
He himself broke away from MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai together with former secretary general Tendai Biti after disastrous elections against President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in July 2013, to form MDC Renewal Team.
Critics claim he personally triggered the fallout with Tsvangirai after he wrote a lengthy letter to the MDC T leader after the polls asking him to step-down to pave the way for another new leader.
In the same letter demanding that Tsvangirai step-down, Mangoma cited a myriad of reasons, among them that the former prime minister in the coalition government was personally responsible for the electoral loss, citing his alleged bed-hopping with different women.
In the run-up to the July 31, 2013 polls, Tsvangirai was linked to a string of women among them South African national Nosipho Silubane, Harare’s Locadia Karimatsenga and Bulawayo’s Loretta Nyathi. He later went on to marry his current wife Elizabeth Macheka after allegedly paying lobola to Karimatsenga’s parents.
But as fate would have it Mangoma was on Tuesday suspended from MDC Renewal Team on allegations of having a sexual relationship with the wife of one of the party’s youth leaders.
Instead of facing the party’s disciplinary committee has opted to consummate his own political affiliation which includes former senior members of the MDC Renewal Team, further intensifying turmoil in the opposition.
Mangoma, a chartered accountant by profession and former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Zimbabwe told journalists after unveiling his political formation that he saw it fit to dissociate himself from former Finance Minister Biti and his colleagues in the MDC Renewal Team charging that Biti and others were allegedly courting a Zanu PF faction linked to former Vice President Joice Mujuru that is calling itself People First.
But MDC Renewal Team spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, has dismissed Mangoma’s move saying the former energy minister is power hungry.
Critics have been quick to point out that the latest break-away comes at the backcloth of a collapse of reunification talks with the Welshman Ncube led MDC formation, raising speculation whether it is the endgame for MDC Renewal Team.
But political blogger and renowned analyst Takura Zhangazha says endgames for political parties come with downright closure or massive electoral losses.
“At the moment the MDC Renewal has experienced neither. But its preoccupation with the politics of personalities may eventually lead to either disbandment or massive electoral defeat and therefore, an endgame,” says Zhangazha.
But opposition activists admit it is very painful to see opposition movements crumbling, pointing out it is not good for the country’s democracy especially at a time Mugabe and Zanu PF are deemed to be at their weakest ahead of the 2018 polls.
Analyst Rawlings Magede believes deep-seated problems in the party weighed against the formation.
“The exit of Mangoma relegates the Renewal team into possible political oblivion. There are a lot of problems for the party going ahead,” said Magede.
Sekai Holland recently quit as the chairperson of the party, a further confirmation all was not well in the MDC Renewal which sought to breathe new life into the country’s comatose opposition.
There is a general consensus the MDC Renewal has been Biti’s project much to the chagrin of ambitious politicians such as Mangoma “who has the fire but zero strategy, charisma and zero gravitas”, according to a political editor of a local daily newspaper.
“In fact Renewalists say he (Mangoma) is the one that spoiled the game to see the back of Morgan (Tsvangirai) with that letter which saw Tsvangirai go on self-preservation and fight back,” he added..
Vivid Gwede, another analyst, chipped in saying the political shenanigans in the party indicate entrenched deep seated factionalism likely to sweep the party away before 2018 polls.
“There is danger of the party or precisely the project disintegrating in its infancy,” said Gwede.
For Trust Matsilele, a South African-based journalist and analyst, it was inevitable that power struggles would emanate in the Renewal team just like any other protest movement.
“It is always difficult if not impossible to have a coherent message that unite forces behind a certain agenda other than maligning former comrades, so the renewal confusion is testimony to challenges faced by protest movements not only in Zimbabwe but world-over,” said Matsilele