Mutasa, Gumbo are indeed just dwarfs in large robes

Rugare Gumbo (left) and Didymus Mutasa

IN 2014, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, the Foreign Affairs minister, had the audacity to boast to his peers at the Sadc summit held in Victoria Falls, saying that even if the economy crumbles, Zimbabweans will not revolt.

guest column: Whitlaw Mugwiji

Rugare Gumbo (left) and Didymus  Mutasa at a Press conference at  ZimPF headquarters in Highlands after being expelled from the party
Rugare Gumbo (left) and Didymus Mutasa at a Press conference at ZimPF headquarters in Highlands after being expelled from the party

Good riddance to bad rubbish

He was perhaps right. We have so much unfocused anger, directed more often than not at one another. Instead of putting our little differences aside, we pick on and feast on each other’s misfortune.

As I write, social media is awash with opposition members celebrating the split of Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) and enjoying the insults being hurled at Joice Mujuru.

In their little heads, they think the coalition is doomed and their positions are safe. They would rather bask in their little titles, as opposition leaders than join hands with former enemies and remove President Robert Mugabe.

Such pettiness is not only common to the opposition; a majority of senior former Zanu PF members, many whom are war veterans, despise the MDC-T.

Even those, who openly criticise Mugabe and Zanu PF like Fay Chung, are very reluctant to join the opposition forces.

They hide their reluctance behind some ideological and philosophical arguments like they are unwilling to become tools of imperialism.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa, Margaret Dongo and four other expelled members from ZimPF were not keen to form a coalition with the opposition.

I say good riddance to bad rubbish; many of these leaders were riding high on Mujuru’s back.

They might be big names, but as individuals, they have little followership in the country. The Herald once described them as dwarfs in large robes.

Instead of belittling Mujuru’s leadership, they should go to the people and let them be the arbiter.

Unfortunately, my opinion carries little or no weight at all, but I would rather suggest they go into retirement.

I am sure the citizenry would be most grateful to learn about the liberation struggle and the Zimbabwean government through their lenses.

The onus is on Mujuru to show her mettle

I have watched several Mujuru interviews since the formation of ZimPF. I cannot say I was impressed by her overall performance, but I must admit I was impressed by her sincerity.

My own impression of her is, she wants to make amends for the mistakes they made during her time in government.

Having been confined in a Zanu PF ivory tower for over three decades, devoid of ordinary citizens and their everyday struggles, she suddenly understands what the people of this country are going through.

Unfortunately, Zimbabwe’s eyes will be on her for the next coming weeks, watching her every move.

The onus is on her. She must show everyone her mettle.

I am not her adviser and neither do I support her political formation, but her next move must be very decisive and bring this circus to an end.

As I have mentioned earlier, the people are the best arbiters in any political disagreement, so there is no other way, but to reaffirm her support on the ground.

Since my opinion carries little weight, I suggest she draws some inspiration and learn one or two things from Morgan Tsvangirai’s experience during the MDC split in 2005.

Notwithstanding the causes, the similarities of these two scenarios is very striking, they are almost a perfect replica of each other.

In 2005, Welshman Ncube remained with the bulk of the party executives, while Tsvangirai was in sync with the popular will of the ordinary citizens, who felt Senate elections were a waste of resources.

Mujuru today is in sync with the general popular will that wants us to unite and fight from one front, while Gumbo has the backing of the majority of ZimPF top officials.

What is important to take note is that Tsvangirai did not waste time through Press briefings or Press statements, but he went on the ground, travelled the length and breadth of the country, meeting ordinary citizens.

As soon as she can prove that her grassroots support is intact, the sooner this debacle will be put to rest.

A coalition is not an end unto itself

For the political scientist and the academic, this political season must be a very exciting time, a time for high drama, a time to test theories and a time to learn new lessons.

But for the ordinary citizen and the political practitioner, it’s a time for uneasiness, high tension and serious introspection.

Mugabe has proved to us beyond any doubt that he is unable to create jobs and resuscitate the economy.

For him, power is an end unto itself. If we are serious and want to see him gone, then we must go beyond slogans.
The starting point would be an honest evaluation of our opposition.

Unfortunately, our so-called analysts oftentimes mistake the disintegration of elite cohesion in Zanu PF to mean opposition strength.

I stand to be crucified by party zealots, but here is the unadulterated truth: All opposition parties in Zimbabwe are weak, the only difference being other parties are less weak than others.

The question we must, therefore, answer is: How do we strengthen the opposition?

I agree with People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti when he says a coalition by itself is not enough to dislodge Zanu PF from power.

I contend joining hands and speaking with one voice is only, but the start.

This, in itself, should not be difficult, considering that opposition leaders have already displayed a willingness to work with one another by attending and addressing each other’s rallies.

This joining of hands will also be able to unlock both domestic and international financial resources, which will in turn be vital for the campaign strategy, which in my opinion must be hinged on information dissemination.

Another people’s convention

The whole idea in essence is to try and recreate the passion and the energy of the year 2000, when everyone could feel and smell change in the air.

In my view, instead of organising demonstrations, we must start organising the people not just at the national level, but at the grassroots level through community engagements.

What we need is another people’s convention, where ordinary citizens, civic society and political parties can come together and speak with one loud and equivocal voice saying we are sick and tired of Zanu PF corruption, sick and tired of Zanu PF’s failure to resuscitate the economy, sick and tired of Zanu PF nepotism, basically sick and tired of Mugabe’s rule.

The basis for our victory in 2018 lies is the small actions of uncelebrated heroes and heroines who will share the message of hope and change in the face of Zanu PF intimidation and violence.

Let’s stay focused. We can do this together. Change is possible in Mugabe’s lifetime.

Whitlaw Mugwiji is a political analyst and social commentator for Khuluma Afrika