Harare, May 2, 2014-Government and the ruling Zanu PF party should be careful and not celebrate the demise of the opposition MDC-T as this could pose a danger to the country’s social fabric.
Renowned political and social commentator Ibbo Mandaza told a Crisis Coalition discussion Wednesday that the people of Zimbabwe were worried about the likely implications of the demise of the opposition party.
“The MDC-T’s split is not something that Zanu PF should celebrate, and even our government should be worried because the likelihood of unguided discontent is high and very dangerous because it can cause civil unrest,” Mandaza said.
“Zimbabweans are worried about the implications of this implosion, and we hope Tsvangirai and his colleagues will resolve their differences sooner rather than later, for the good of this country.”
He said Zimbabwe needed to develop political parties rather than movements that were currently in the country.
“We do not have political parties although they are, on the face of it, modeled around normal parties like Labour and Conservatives in the United Kingdom. What we have are political movements. The implosion of the MDC-T is no laughing matter, it is a tragic situation for our country. The MDC-T has been an important political force in our country with
“Tsvangirai as its face, but the tragedy is that we had thought they would do their politics differently, but we have young people like Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T organising secretary) speaking as if they are in the 60s,” Mandaza said.
“Zanu PF seems to be stable at the moment, but it will implode at some time. The only reason that party seems stable is because they have state power and the government resources are at their disposal.”
The discussion, running under the theme Internal party democracy and power struggles in political society; Whither succession politics in Zimbabwe, brought together discussants from the MDC-T’s two formations, one lead by Tsvangirai represented by Obert Gutu and the renewal team’s Jacob Mafume, as well as Zanu PF’s information director, Psychology Maziwisa.
Mafume said Zimbabwe’s problem was steeped in the big-man syndrome and argued that because they were funded under the Political Parties Finance Act, organisations like Zanu PF and the MDC-T effectively become public bodies.
“When we elect people to be leaders, we do not give them title deeds to these institutions. Political parties, by virtue of them being funded by the public purse, become public institutions and there should never be anything private about them, including change of leadership,” said Mafume.
“Democracy should start within parties rather than our situation where the president becomes the husband of all women in the party as well as the father to all members.”
His sentiments were also echoed by Mandaza who said he had joined the liberation struggle because Zanu had seemed to be against the “Dear Leader mentality”.
Gutu said the MDC-T was still learning how to deal with political succession.
“We cannot be compared to parties in developed countries because we are only 15 years old. We are learning and yet to be a fully-fledged political party. I have a problem with people who attack the personality, as they do with Tsvangirai. I see nothing wrong with people saying leaders are ordained by God, you can call it bootlicking, but we must understand that this is essentially a faith based society,” said Gutu.
Mandaza said it was time Zimbabwe’s younger generation of leaders took charge and lead the country.
“We brought independence, but I think as nationalists we have come short when it comes to economic issues. We need you, the younger generation, to take over. We have
neither the stamina nor the intellect to take this country forward,” said Mandaza.
“Zanu PF’s constitution is archaic because it dates back to Chimoio (Mozambican town where Zanu had a base during the liberation struggle) and I am shocked at the level of confusion within the MDC-T given that it is full of lawyers, there is just too much idol worship,” he said.
The opposition MDC-T has been in turmoil over leadership renewal, with suspensions and counter suspensions as the party faces the real spectre of implosion following its humiliating poll loss in last year’s harmonised elections. Hawks in the MDC-T have been calling on Tsvangirai to step-down and allow for an elective congress, but the veteran opposition strongman has stuck to his guns, claiming he was still relevant to the country’s democratic struggle despite three presidential electoral loses.