By Kudzai Kwangwari
In May 2013, I penned an article which was published in NewsDay in which I warned the MDC-T to restrategise or face death. I pointed out some of the glaring weaknesses inherent in the opposition political party which I predicted would lead to the “death” of the MDC-T.
I mentioned that there was no rallying point in the party and nothing which brought them together other than just to oppose Zanu PF.
I highlighted that it was difficult to sustain an opposition political party without an enduring ideology and a point which mobilises all in one direction.
There is a lot which signifies to a great extent death in the party, especially as represented by what happened in the July 31 2013 harmonised elections. I am not endorsing the elections as “free and fair”.
Whether there was Nikuv or no Nikuv, MDC-T’s loss points to weaknesses in the opposition. After the July 31 elections, the opposition party was divided with the then secretary-general Tendai Biti leading what became the MDC Renewal Team.
The process was violent with Elton Mangoma getting victimised by youth allegedly aligned to MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai.
So in essence, the real MDC-T is no longer united. Biti, Mangoma andSolomon Madzore are no longer there while Nelson Chamisa seems aloof. The 21 MPs who joined MDC Renewal have been recalled and the party is boycotting the by–elections slated for June 10 2015.
Tsvangirai’s close ally and deputy Thokozani Khupe seems not to agree anymore with him over the participation in the June by-election. Perhaps we will end up with MDC-T, MDC-N, MDC-K, MDC Renewal and many more. Signs of death are clear.
The campaign, “No Reforms, No Election” which the MDC-T is inconsequential, especially if one considers that they are dealing with Zanu PF. To imagine that Zanu PF will assist in effecting reforms which may cause it to lose elections is not very practical politically. Having attended one of the “No Reforms, No Elections” rallies where the main message did little to depart from just enumeration and highlighting the wrongs of Zanu PF including abuse of public media, nothing gave the impression that the campaign would succeed.
What l find curious is that for more than 50 months, the MDC-T was in the government together with Zanu PF, but failed to effect any significant electoral reforms.
Tsvangirai was prime minister and had meetings with President Robert Mugabe weekly. Why didn’t the MDC-T use this leverage to push for the reforms whose campaign they are running now?.
Is it because the MDC-T did not consider this as very important until they lost the little power which they had. MDC-T had a number of platforms to push for these reforms including, but the party failed.
Zanu PF is now enjoying about two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The mistake which MDC-T made in 2009 when the inclusive government was formed is to include all influential members of the party in the government, leaving the business of the party unattended. Many MDC-T ministers committed themselves to government business and the party suffered such that by the time we got to July 2013, the party was sick but the leadership was very confident of winning elections.
Zanu PF, however, did not commit to government business with many of its key members retreating back to the party to reorganise, mobilise and restrategise.
While I entirely agree with the MDC-T that the electoral reforms must be implemented, I am not confident that this can be achieved through rallies when the opposition party had better platforms to pushed for these reforms, but failed.
Zimbabweans seem to be fatigued by politics. The opposition, therefore, needs to awaken and reignite the political appetite of Zimbabweans and make them believe again. We are in a state where we cannot hope for a better future with Zanu PF at the helm.
While Zanu PF is intoxicated with independence, a higher value to pursue is one of interdependence where we live in harmony with the community of nations depending on each other’s strengths.
We are grateful for the role Zanu PF played in the fight for political independence and achievements in the early years after independence when many of us got access to education, health and land.
We, however, cannot fail to notice the serious disturbances which rocked infant Zimbabwe with many losing lives in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands.
Having said this, we desperately need a strong opposition political party to challenge Zanu PF and take us into the future. I have no confidence in Zanu PF changing the fortunes of Zimbabwe.
While other political parties can come on board, in itself a good sign of a multi-party democracy, l still think there should be a Lazarus moment for the MDC T anchored on clear national political values beyond just opposing Zanu PF.
For instance, while all of us are against the behaviour by Zanu PF to reduce events of national importance — Independence Day, Heroes’ and Defence Forces’ Day — to political party ones, the opposition should not just condemn, but show us the right way to do it by hosting a really national event where party slogans and regalia are not permitted.
This is better than sitting at home as if Independence and such other national events mean nothing to MDC-T party and other opposition parties.
Kudzai Kwangwari a community development activist writes in his own personal capacity. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org