Wither Prof Welshman Ncube?

By Sij Ncube

It never rains but it literally pours for Professor Welshman Ncube and his formation of the MDC ahead of its merger with MDC Renewal team.

In a space of less than two weeks, Ncube’s formation has been hit left, right and centre, by a spate of resignation.

Nhlanhla Dube, the former national spokesperson, quit his position and resigned from the party on March 20, citing “callous abuse and character assassination” he claimed had “gravely affected my personal space.”

Dube told Radio VOP: “I have begun a sabbatical from front line partisan politics. It wasn’t an easy decision but as the Lord leads I shall go. My passion for community and people remains undiminished. Much will be accomplished yet.”

The resignation of Dube, seen as Ncube’s right-hand-man since the infamous split from former leader Morgan Tsvangirai in October 2005, came barely a month after the double resignation of former secretary general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and vice chairman Frank Chamunorwa.

Last Saturday seven members in the party’s youth provincial leadership structures crossed the floor to join the Dumiso Dabengwa-led Zapu citing a bleak future.

 Another youth leader, Francis Mufambi who also quit recently described Ncube as a dictator.

As if that was not enough, The Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudeda and the President of the Senate Edna Madzongwe, citing the provisions of Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, recently recalled 21 Members of Parliament who deserted MDC-T, the party that sponsored them to get elected into the august House.

The 21 former MPs broke away from the MDC-T after the July 31, 2013 polls controversial elections and joined MDC- T renewal.

The MDC-T, in demanding the recall of the 21 legislators, argued that the “rebels” were no longer representatives of the MDC party that got them elected into the august house.

The discord in Ncube’s MDC appears to give credence to assertions its merger with the MDC Renewal fronted by former MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti to form the United Movement for Democratic Change (UMDC) faces imminent collapse.

Questions abound wither Ncube. Those closely watching the goings-on in the party believe Ncube faces his sternest test since he left the cosy offices of the University of Zimbabwe and legal chambers to dabble in politics at the dawn of the united MDC in September 1999.

Critics point out that his political misfortunes started when he allegedly master-minded the splint from MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in 2005 over disagreements over whether or not the party should contest senate elections.  But this is history.

Now ahead of a joint congress with MDC Renewal, Ncube now faces the gathering seemingly in a weaker position after the resignation of senior side-kicks such as his former spokesperson Dube.

Dumisani Nkomo, a political analyst, says the spate of resignations to hit Ncube’s party and the expulsion of the MDC Renewal legislators from parliament complicated issues for the humble politician from Lower Gweru and his political formation.

“The unification is still possible but will be very difficult,” said Nkomo.  “Ncube should have focussed on rebuilding his party instead he will now negotiate with Biti and company from a position of weakness.”

But United Kingdom-based political analyst and former secretary general of the united MDC Youth Assembly, Bekithemba Mpofu, does not think the resignations are an indication of opposition to the unification.

“It could be frustration about future positions at the UMDC especially when the process is taking longer than expected,” said Mpofu, adding that it is unfortunate that Ncube’s party is experiencing senior resignations at this point of the UMDC unification process.

“If there are more similar high profile resignations then his party’s position will be weakened. Politics requires a lot of compromise and Ncube is intelligent enough to realise the importance of keeping senior colleagues within the ranks if the unification is to be successful. High profile resignations plant doubts to stakeholders regarding the stability of an organisation. In any case this is a time when everyone should be energised towards unification.”

Political analyst and blogger Takura Zhangazha believes Ncube has the onerous task of keeping his ship afloat and reconnecting with his core support base.  

“If he was hesitant in leadership, now is perhaps the time for him to take things in stride and with greater conscientiousness and collective responsibility,” said Zhangazha, noting that the unification was always going to be problematic particularly with regards to sharing of senior leadership posts.

“So the unification is skating on thin ice. Unless they (MDC) first call their own congress and directly elect the leaders, before the joint congress to merge with the Biti group.”

Rashweat Mukundu, another political analyst weighed in saying Ncube faced his possible waterloo citing the political shenanigans ahead of the merge with the Biti faction to give birth to UMDC.

Mukundu said some Zimbabweans now considered Ncube a political spent force after the break-away from former prime minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

“He has been losing elections since the split of 2005. But if the truth be told, it was unstrategic for Biti and company to sacrifice their parliamentary seats in an infertile unity with Ncube. This marks the end of MDC Renewal and they join the ranks of fringe and irrelevant parties like Mavambo,” said Mukundu.