Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are in serious disarray and are fast becoming irrelevant to the struggle for survival which the people are engaged in on a daily basis.
Instead of introspecting on their 2013 electoral defeat by Zanu PF, they are engaged in factionalism and splits. While the MDC-T is still in the process of splitting for the second time, we now hear that all is not well in Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD).
It is said that Simba Makoni, the founder and leader of the party, is under attack from colleagues in his own party. They are accusing him of being timid and ineffective. They are right.
Since its formation, the MKD has failed to develop into a party that can seriously pose a challenge to Zanu PF or other existing opposition parties. Its leader is hardly visible on Zimbabwe’s political scene. He might as well be living somewhere in the Diaspora.
Speaking at the party’s national congress in Harare, MKD losing candidate for Chivi Central George Mudombo challenged Makoni to up his game.
He said, amid applause from delegates, “Our leader is well-branded but is poorly positioned. You can’t be a leader when you are shy; you can’t be in politics when you don’t want to be known.”
He also expressed concern at the MKD’s lack of grassroots structures and warned that they were fast-losing ground to the splinter MDC Renewal Team group led by Tendai Biti.
What Mudombo said has been obvious to us non-members for a long time. Makoni has got the best of intentions but he just does not have the temperament to lead an opposition party, especially in the very rough and tumble of Zimbabwean politics. He does not have what it takes to fight and defeat a cunning, ruthless and experienced fighter like Robert Mugabe. Last year Makoni chose not to fight Mugabe for the presidency.
He chose to back Morgan Tsvangirai instead. This was a wise move, indeed. Actually, if Makoni had made this move for the 2008 presidential elections, Tsvangirai would have won an outright victory over Mugabe.
The MDC leader won 47% of the ballot against 43% for Mugabe, forcing the inconclusive and violent run-off. Makoni won 8,3% of the vote, which, if added to Tsvangirai’s vote, would have given both of them an uncontestable victory to form a formidable government.
It was reported that Makoni dismissed the accusations levelled against him, claiming that the MKD was a renewed party with a different strategy. He said he preferred a more inclusive leadership style instead of telling people what to do.
Let us hope Nyati does not fall into the “handiende” [I will not leave office] syndrome to follow Mugabe and Tsvangirai who would like to die in their respective offices even though their parties are disintegrating before their eyes. He must take his colleagues’ accusations seriously and act upon them as a true democrat should. He should resign as leader of MKD and assist his party in choosing a more aggressive leader.
However, it would be a big mistake to think that just because Makoni is not politically aggressive, he is, therefore, useless.
He was an esteemed Zanu PF minister of Finance and Economic Development until his progressive policies contradicted with those of the rest of the party. Faced with criticism from his colleagues, he decided to call it quits. When he resigned from Zanu PF in disgust, all right-thinking Zimbabweans ululated and clapped their hands in appreciation. He had the guts to stand up to Zanu PF and say, enough is enough and to challenge Mugabe for the presidency.
His gifts, training and experience in government in Zimbabwe and as executive Secretary of Sadc are well-known. Zanu PF government will, therefore, do well to give him a key post in cabinet.
By defying Mugabe and Zanu PF, Makoni risked everything in order to carry out what he saw as the best for the poor and oppressed of Zimbabwe. However, in order to fulfil this mandate, God gave him certain gifts but not that of leader of an opposition political party, in Zimbabwe, at this time.
It was rather interesting to hear that Tsvangirai recently wrote a letter to the Sadc Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security demanding fresh elections, saying a compromise to produce a government that might save Zimbabwe from further calamity was proving elusive. It seems as though Tsvangirai would like to be Prime Minister again. He wants to go back to bed with Zanu PF because it was really warm in there.
He was never broke and the girls knew it too. What is it that he can do now which he couldn’t do while he was Prime Minister in the coalition government? Also, appealing to Sadc, which is chaired by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, shows that the man is out of his depth.
After the elections, Tsvangirai should have listened to his colleagues, resigned honourably and helped his party to choose a new leader.
Reports suggest Tsvangirai now wants his party to change its constitution so as to give him more powers, just as did Mugabe of Zanu PF.
What is now ominous is that party vice-president Thokozani Khupe along with party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora and organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa, vehemently oppose the idea of amending the constitution to centralise power in the hands of Tsvangirai. Is this the beginning of yet another split in the MDC-T?
When people were starting to build their faith in the new MDC Renewal Team, they also seem to be running away from the people to Zanu PF. Supporters were shattered when they heard that the Renewal Team proclaimed that it is making offers to partner the ruling Zanu PF in government. This was confirmed by Jacob Mafume, the team’s spokesperson.
Victory for the opposition and freedom for the poor and oppressed will never come out of working together with Zanu PF. It can only come if all opposition political parties put Zimbabwe first and come together in a grand coalition to bring about a peaceful democratic transition.
This is the right moment because Zanu PF is at its weakest as various factions within it are now viciously fighting each other, in the open, in what seems to be the final battle to succeed Mugabe.
At this time many in Zanu PF have become disillusioned since serious political, social and economic issues facing ordinary people have been put on the back burner as leaders are busy fighting to succeed Mugabe.
Even among the leaders, many are so discouraged that they would seriously consider joining a serious alternative.
There are rumours going about, that certain concerned church, civil society and business leaders are working on bringing about such a coalition of all opposition parties. They need our prayers.
He, who has ears to hear, let him hear.