The MDC congress has come and gone, but unlike the Zanu PF conference held in Mutare recently that unanimously endorsed the leadership of President Robert Mugabe, Welshman Ncube’s toppling of Arthur Mutamabra was mired in controversy.
The weekend drama saw Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara being booted out from the party presidency.
A day before the congress Mutambara’s backers announced they would not attend the “charade” and would instead hold their own congress.
The party’s former national chairman Joubert Mudzumwe, then women’s assembly chairperson Hilda Sibanda, deputy national organising secretary Morgan Changamire, secretary for education Tsitsi Dangarembga and the national youth chairperson Costa Chipadza all boycotted the event citing abuse of power by Ncube.
The development has created fundamental scenarios and has become subject of analysis in many spheres.
Mutambara, who was hired in 2006 from his United States base to lead the splinter MDC group, had spoken out saying he was no longer interested in having any position in the party but would continue to be “a soldier of the party”.
Ncube insists he still has a lot to tap from Mutambara’s talent and would continue to persuade him to take up any position in the party.
But this bring to the question whether the change of leadership was necessary anyway.
Analysts say Ncube’s being “power hungry” has been confirmed.
Media lecturer and analyst Alexander Rusero said former US ambassador Christopher Dell, who described Ncube as “a divisive element”, has since been proven correct.
In a classified cable released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, Dell said Ncube “has proven to be a deeply divisive and destructive player in the opposition ranks”, adding “the sooner he is pushed off the stage, the better”.
Said Rusero: “We have to consider the character we are dealing with here. This development shows exactly what Dell said about him. At this time, it is unnecessary to have struggles within the main struggle.”
“What Ncube has shown is that he is incapable of proper leadership the people are hungry for. However, he has elevated Mutambara’s status as the two political parties in the inclusive government will jostle to have him around. He is actually the man of the moment,” he said.
Rusero said the worrying factor was that the MDC led by Ncube has all but enhanced the sound re-emergence of Zapu and if not careful, his party would lose out a few seats it has in Matabeleland and would not have a national face.
In his acceptance speech on Sunday, Ncube said it was imperative for leaders to accept the need to pass the baton on.
“To those who refuse to hand over power to this generation, beware,” said Ncube.
Media researcher Takura Zhangazha said the MDC under Ncube would have a lot of work to do to make a national impact.
“Obviously the party is still relevant as they are still in government,” said Zhangazha. “They still have a platform but structures and popularity will start from the southern part of the country,” Zhangazha said.
“They will have a challenge for national impact. They will be more of a regional party and they really have a lot of work to do,” he said.
In his Facebook posting Jameson Timba said: “A lesson in generational democracy: yes the baton stick should be passed on. But should it be passed on from the younger generation to the older generation?”
His comment drew criticism from Brighton Chiwola who responded by saying: “Honourable Timba, reflect on what you have just written: Are you saying it is wrong to pass on the baton to someone 5 (years) older than you? Well I think it is better than to say our president will only be changed once we have attained power.”
Outgoing president Mutambara in his address to the congress said there was need for the party to engage those that had decided to boycott the congress.
“Even without a position, I will be a soldier of the party,” said Mutambara. “We must work hard to maintain this very important party.”