MDC-T succession, heads and tails?

“There is only victory and defeat. The winner gets to take the moral high-ground, because they get to write the history books. The loser, well, he just loses.” Samuel L Jackson (Unthinkable).
The political dustbins are bottomless pits after all. They never get full.

By Robert Sigauke

Ask Simba Makoni, he will tell you. Ask Welshman Ncube, ask Tendai Biti.

Just like the donkey that Jesus rode during the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, these once great men returned back to the people expecting to walk on blankets and leaves laid on the dusty streets by the masses. They were wrong.

In fact, the donkey was beaten with sticks for not being in the maize fields so late in the afternoon, to pull the ploughs after dropping Jesus at his destination.

Today, Ncube’s party has one seat in Parliament, a proportional representation one! Makoni is in a whirlwind of political darkness. Biti’s project has been a dismal failure.

I like to think the man sometimes contemplates on passing a vote of no confidence on himself, by himself, so as to trace his footsteps back to the party that cut his umbilical cord in mainstream politics.

See how excited, humble and energetic these men are at alliance rallies. They don’t want the project to fail.

The MDC Alliance is their second chance at relevance and endearing themselves with the masses. It is their hope at the gravy train again. A veiled way to compensate for their part in promoting political dwarfism.

What Biti will not tell you is that he misses home. What Ncube will not tell you is that with hindsight he would have advised the late MDC-T vice-president Gibson Sibanda that it would have had much benefit to think with heads, not with their hearts.

In politics, good men and principles don’t always win, the tide goes with the winds. Principles win arguments, but the numbers win seats.


The game changes the rules more often too. If you read incorrectly, it buries you, it punishes you, the dance is over. Ask Makoni. Nkosana Moyo will soon learn that.

The succession circus playing out in the MDC-T at the moment will eventually die out, not with victims, but casualties. The crescendo is here, one must swim or drown, die or live.

MDC-T vice-presidents Elias Mudzuri, Nelson Chamisa (pictured) and Thokozani Khupe are very well aware that the duel must end with one winner, and none of them wants to be anything other than that.

They also know that splinter movements are slow graves, they do not work anymore in our politics. It is hopeless to be anyone’s plan B.

Khupe and cabal might be right about their arguments regarding the issue of seats distribution among the alliance partners, but the bone of her argument must rise above regional politics.

Correctly so, Khupe was elected by the people, but the leader of the MDC-T must be someone with grassroots and national appeal.

Someone who can be the glue that harmonises not only Matabeleland and the rest of the Mashonaland provinces, but students, women, the povo and the elite too.

In other words, the rest of the national opposition constituency.

Somebody all these groups can draw their identity and emotional trigger from. Khupe does not have that. Neither does Mudzuri.

The political winds at the moment do not favour the old guard (the kindest of ways to mean advanced age). The wisdom of the old guard is forever essential.

That is why we have national archives and libraries, right?

Veteran politician Cephas Msipa passed away as such.

The old respected man had retired from active politics, to observe and serve wisdom.

Right in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela.

Just as ex-leader Robert Mugabe was the glue that held Zanu PF together from imploding during all those years of Gamatox versus Lacoste versus G40 contests, Morgan Tsvangirai is such.

Anybody who will lead next will go further with his blessing at best or tacit approval at worst.Chamisa has received both.

Tsvangirai did not mince his words when, just before he went to South Africa in January, he said that it is time to pass the reins to the next generation.

We can all agree that Khupe and Mudzuri are not any generation outside Tsvangirai’s.

While Chamisa was accompanying Tsvangirai on regional tours to Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and handling the alliance business, Khupe was busy playing regional politics and bunking crucial national council meetings, protesting that Ncube be chucked out of the alliance arrangement in Matabeleland.

Regional politics is small game.

It stinks, at least since the 1987 PF Accord.

While Chamisa kept an imposing presence in parliamentary debates, defending the party in motions, and challenging the actions of the ruling Zanu PF party at similar podiums, Mudzuri was busy writing a long letter asking Tsvangirai to step down and be the “Mandela” of the opposition party.

It is telling today why Tsvangirai entrusted Chamisa with the responsibilities of handling the alliance business, a much bigger constituency than the MDC-T party alone which was entrusted to Mudzuri, a mandate which today nobody knows if still in effect.

There is no doubt that the alliance, in all its shortcomings about seats and other nitty-gritties, is the better game in town.

In the bigger spectrum of things, the MDC-T will not field a presidential candidate in this year’s elections, the MDC Alliance will.

Chamisa’s reason for fighting to be the leader of the MDC-T is strategic so as to consolidate power, both in the MDC-T as well as the alliance where he has already prepared the ground.

Further, he will need to be the leader of the “big brother” in the alliance, to have the right to call the shots therein.

The young man is clever, the young man has been loyal to the one whose blessing matters the most. MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora entered into congress with one nomination out of 10. He scooped the SG post at Tsvangirai’s sway.

Tsvangirai is that powerful.

But Tsvangirai had a bigger assignment for Chamisa.

It is all playing out for everyone to see. Never was heads or tails after all.

lRobert Sigauke is a legal professional, author, entrepreneur and political analyst based in Johannesburg. He can be contacted at dialogue@highveldmail.co.za

11 Comments

  1. This is a top drawer analysis. The days of experience are long gone look at the trends this old guard will not take this country forward. Look at the trends globally the young generation is the game in town but their greatest weakness is aparthy they dont register to vote.

  2. Campaigning for Chamisa? Mudzuri and Khupe are certainly not too old for politics. Trump was 70 when he won elections. Ronald Reagan was over 70 when he got in. Churchill was 77 when became Britain’s PM for the second time. Mandela was 77 when he became president in 1994.

  3. Long Live Morgan Tsvangirai,Long Live Nelson Chamisa thank you for the well documented analysis.

  4. I agree with the simple analysis.The 3 vice president should have agreed the transitional arrangement where Chamisa become Acting President,Mudzuri and Khupe become vice presidents.All will benefit.The digging on of Mudzuri and Khupe is creating room for Welshman to replace Khupe and Biti to replace Mudzuri.Mr Mudzuri and Ms Khupe should be calculative of the end game.In as much as their arguments makes sense for academic reasons.What i know is that during the tenure of the inclusive govt Chamisa ministry made cellphones lines cheaper .Iam also getting Chamisa vision for the people of Zimbabwe.I dont know why these 2 other fellows want to lead the party.Are they just want to be party leaders even if we lose the election since it will be good for them as they will get benefits of the position.Please let commonsence prevail over being too scientific on simple issues

  5. A lovely analogy of the unfolding events.

  6. Good analysis but l have a gut feeling, no its quite obvious that you are fighting in Chamisa’s corner. Let the MDC Congress decide on the next leader as per their constitution. I think that will be fair enough without casting aspersions at the other two VPs.

  7. Comment…this analysis stinks. politics is not a career but about serving people. its better to speak what you believe in even if it means you will be isolated. the writer’s thinking is the reason why we dont have competent leaders in africa. Backing Mugabe nomatter what did not work for G40

  8. Well said Mark

  9. Havent seen Khupe and Mudzuri canpaigning for their party the way Chamisa is doing. This young man is Emmanuel Macron in the making.

  10. A true analysis, Chamisa is the man, like it or not, Chamisa is the people’s man. No one appeals more than Nelson in opposition

  11. a very good anlysis and true to the letter. I am with Chamisa

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