THE MDC-T crackdown on defiant senior officials will not address the root cause of the problems facing the party which was paralysed by its disastrous performance in the July 31 elections, analysts have said.
BY PATRICE MAKOVA
They warned that MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai and the entire top party leadership risked alienating themselves with some of their core supporters if they continued to victimise certain officials.
The MDC-T last week suspended Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi, his deputy Artwell Matyorauta, and three councillors for defying party orders during mayoral elections.
Mutare mayor, Tatenda Nhamarare and three councillors were also suspended for allegedly colluding to vote for a deputy mayor from Zanu PF. Dangamvura/Chikanga legislator, Arnold Tsunga is also set for a disciplinary hearing for contesting and winning against the party’s preferred candidate, Giles Mutsekwa in the July 31 elections.
In what is now widely viewed as a purge of officials calling for the ouster of Tsvangirai, former Marondera Central MP, Ian Kay was also reportedly suspended for publicly calling for leadership renewal.
Exiled MDC-T treasurer general Roy Bennett, was the first one to publicly call for leadership change after the party’s poor showing, but no action was taken against him.
But analysts said attempts by the MDC-T to silence critics would backfire and further divide the party. They said the party was now obsessed with controlling its members, instead of rebuilding its structure in order to launch a formidable challenge to Zanu PF in the 2018 elections.
Political analyst, Shakespeare Hamauswa said the way the
MDC-T was handling its internal democracy processes was likely to create more fissures in the party.
He said the use of threats would result in more rebellions in the party.
“Disciplining people will not address the root cause of the problems in MDC-T,” said Hamauswa.
‘Leadership renewal best option for MDC-T’
Political analyst, Shakespeare Hamauswa said there was need for transformation and leadership renewal, if the party was to survive and remain relevant.
“They have to sit down and see how they can transform without destroying the party. There is a need to strike a balance between the various interests in the party,” said Hamauswa.
He said if the party decides to replace Tsvangirai, there was a need to come up with a compromise candidate, who can take over the leadership of the party on an interim basis.
Hamauswa said many people still felt that the MDC-T was an alternative to Zanu PF.
But he said the party had to prove that it respected democratic values which it claims to represent.
The political scientist also said it was not to the advantage of the party to ban its members from debating President Robert Mugabe’s speech when he officially opened the first session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe.
Another political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Charity Manyeruke said the MDC-T was taking an elitist approach and segregating its key supporters.
She said the party now had many nucleuses of power working to outdo each other.
Manyeruke said what the suspended mayors and councillors did was normal in a democracy, where political lobbying at various levels is permissible.
“The magnitude of lack of democracy in the MDC-T is alarming,” she said. “Some of the leaders are more worried about their own welfare instead of developing their party.”
Manyeruke said some of the MDC-T leaders were interested only in securing their positions instead of advancing the interests of their supporters.
“People come last when it comes to some of these officials, who are only interested in getting positions. This is why the party is alienating itself from its supporters,” said the UZ lecturer.
She said if the MDC-T top leadership continues to entrench its authority through undemocratic means, there was a likelihood of more revolts in the party.
Manyeruke predicted that more officials and groups associated with the MDC-T would continue to break away from the party to form their own political movements. The Lovemore Madhuku-led National Constitutional Assembly, co-founded by the MDC, recently transformed itself into a political party and lashed out at the MDC-T for “abandoning” the people.
However, MDC-T spokesperson Douglous Mwonzora confirmed that internal investigation on councillors who defied the party’s Constitution and rules was on-going in Mutare, Victoria Falls, Redcliff, Norton and Gweru.
He said there was nothing wrong with the party taking disciplinary measures against its members.
Mwonzora said while party officials were free to discuss leadership renewal internally, they were not allowed to do that outside the party structures and through the media.
“We are a party of rules,” he said.