We should make no bones about nonentities

Conway Tutani

There are justified fears that the wily and amoral Zanu PF regime could be raising a false flag of division and factionalism for the express purpose of infiltration and destruction of the other side.


It’s not paranoid or far-fetched to factor in that real possibility.

Some — not all — Zanu PF outcasts could be infiltrators, but there is now a groundswell of disenchantment with the regime among a lot of its traditional supporters, and these are ripe for the picking by the opposition. The situation should be taken advantage of.

What’s at stake is not purely values of democracy — as those opposed to accommodating expelled former Zanu PF stalwarts are saying — but building a coalition strong and broad enough to bring those values into effect.

If it was purely about such democratic values, why then does the United States — notwithstanding the dangerously naive, eccentric and oddball President-elect Donald Trump’s threats to reverse long-standing policy — treasure its relationship with mainland China, an autocracy, than with Taiwan, a thriving democracy?

Why has the United Kingdom, a constitutional democracy, not completely burnt bridges with the Zanu PF regime?

This ambivalence, duality — call it what you may — is because the British have much to lose if they completely cut off the Zanu PF regime.

Some political parties here have expressed moral outrage over Britain’s re-engagement with the Zanu PF regime, but the UK government firstly and primarily serves the interests of British citizens, not those of long-suffering Zimbabweans.

It’s a function of realpolitik.

Realpolitik is when governments deal in straightforward, goal-oriented ways with other governments.

Former US President Richard Nixon’s overtures to and rapprochement with the communist Chinese government in the 1970s is a good example of realpoitik because he felt — and quite rightly so — that diplomacy was important despite Americans’ distaste and distrust of communism.

The word realpolitik, coined in 1914, comes directly from the German language, in which it literally means “practical politics”.

What could be more practical than the Zanu PF regime’s newly-minted enemies coming together with the long-abused opposition since they now find themselves on the other side of the fence?

Our current situation demands that goal orientation. Not remarks that lack political calculation and addition. One went like this: “(MDC-T leader) Morgan (Tsvangirai) should put aside his differences with (People’s Democratic Party [PDP] leader Tendai) Biti. Leave out (ousted former Vice-President) Joice (Mujuru).

He (Tsvangirai) is probably being ill-advised.”

Tsvangirai and Biti’s coming together will not add any political value because they are already in the opposition turf. If people defect from MDC-T to PDP, then go back to MDC-T — as is happening now at an accelerated rate — there won’t be any additional votes whatsoever.

Whereas if Tsvangirai and Mujuru co-operate, they would combine voters from different political turfs, resulting in net political gain, which is what is needed to ever start contemplating winning against the corrupt and repressive, but formidable and well-oiled Zanu PF political machinery.

However, it looks like pragmatism and sense is now prevailing. And we could be getting to that point where the rubber (as in tyre) meets the road, where something is about to begin, get serious, or be put to the test.

It’s that moment of truth regarding the long-time a-coming grand coalition of opposition forces, but, come to think of it, some of those parties clamouring to be included are no forces at all.

Would you really call the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Mthwakazi Liberation Front etc, for example, forces to reckon with if you stay true to facts and figures, as it should be if you are an objective analyst or honest political adviser? Not at all.

We should make no bones about it. We should speak frankly and honestly about this without hesitation or evasion. That it might embarrass or offend anyone is neither here nor there, because what’s most important at this point in time is to get the ball rolling because time — precious time — is running out.

Time should not be wasted on talk like this from NCA leader Lovemore Madhuku, who recently said: “We have no intention whatsoever to participate in anything called a grand coalition.

Political parties are formed to pursue clear policies and principles.

There is no existing party that has the same policies as NCA and we don’t believe a coalition must be founded on the basis of simply removing the existing government. Coalitions must be founded on shared policies and there is nothing like that at the moment.”

Madhuku is in it for Madhuku — the same way Trump is in it for Trump — and should be promptly written off along with other political narcissists. We should make no bones about it.

From that, it should be made clear that the grand coalition is not for all-comers. “All-comers” is originally a sports term, meaning all people who want to compete, join or take part in a sporting event as opposed to members of a special group.

Imagine a pot-bellied person running against Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

The whole meaning of sprinting would be lost and debased. The whole world would not have been captivated and come to a standstill as Bolt took the 100 metres gold at the Rio Olympics in August 2016. You don’t just wake up and demand to be included among the eight finalists running for Olympic gold.

You have to make the grade if you are to compete alongside world record holders. An athlete can train all year, but the race is where the running spikes meet the track and the whole, wide world will know how good they really are.

Similarly, it was no coincidence that Bulawayo football giants Highlanders specifically invited Dynamos all the way from Harare in a match to close their year-long 90th anniversary celebrations because both sides, despite being bitter rivals, bring out the best in each other in terms of competition and revenue generated, making them stronger together.

Had Highlanders invited, for instance, Tsholotsho FC or some nondescript Division Four team for that special occasion, they would have thrown away that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to befittingly celebrate. It’s not disrespect, but the truth is that Tsholotsho does not have Dynamos’ pulling power. We should make no bones about it.

From that, it can be extrapolated that, one, not all those groupings — 42 of them at the last count — calling themselves political parties are actually what they claim to be, but more of mere pressure groups; and, two, if they insist that they are political parties, they are not in the same league as the duly recognised main players.

As we get to that point where the rubber meets the road, where a plan is put in motion, where the crucial test or practical reality is, if you find yourself not at the coalition talks table, you don’t mean much to the people. We should make no bones about it.

Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: nkumbuzo@gmail.com


  1. in britain (with brexit), the rest of europe … and america (as has been demonstrated by the election of mr trump) realpolitiks has suffered serious setbacks (the group-all centre ground) to rightwing politics (of determinate conservative or rightwing ‘values’).

    mr tutani’s article runs in the face of these developing realities. the focus — against all of mr tutani’s mistaken chess-like advise — is a move towards ‘values’. an mdc-t/zpf pact would be disaster. and instead of dismissing groups like mlf offhand (he is right to do so of madhuku), he shld be looking at such groups with a prognostic eye, for they are the future.

    on this occasion, this is not a good article

  2. Everyone is important, given that the last leg of the struggle was prosecuted by civil society protest groups directly from the social media and internet. However, it is important as Tutani is emphasizing here for every political player to become objective of their sphere of influence. It would be illogical for Madhuku to demand that he be given a Vice Presidency post in the coalition formation without winning a single parliamentary seat. In the coalition movement, even Pastor Mawarire will be invited to participate from USA, as we acknowledge that despite abandoning the struggle, he had managed to galvanize dissent and marshaling it to the regime. Zvorwadza and Mkwananzi should be invited and before deliberations begin a moment of silence as we remember Itai Dzamara’s solo struggle against the regime.

  3. Right on point Tutani,a spade should just be called a spade,the moment that we decide to call it a hoe then all hell will break loose.Lets not try to be diplomatic by lying to the small parties in the name of democracy and letting them think that if they are not included in the grand coalition then no goal will be achieved.Democracy is when people do everything they wish to do freely not lying that even small parties whose only known supporters are its leaders, have much say in the political matrix of this country.

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