IN this article I make the case that politicians in the main opposition movement, MDC-T, must have the intelligence to feel the vibes of the winds of change and adjust accordingly in order to maintain the relevance of their struggle. With the despot, former President Robert Mugabe, out of the way and MDC-T founding president Morgan Tsvangirai gone, it should be common cause that the course of the struggle cannot assume the same trajectory. What was true yesterday can no longer remain the truth today.
By Learnmore Zuze
Currently, the MDC-T is teetering on the brink resulting from Tsvangirai’s death. The scramble for leadership has plunged the party into disarray although there have been frantic efforts to present a united front. Discord has been sown among brethren. The current situation certainly requires politicians with a large heart; politicians who understand that the common good must prevail over individual desires.
The power struggles that have rocked the MDC-T during and after the death of Tsvangirai make for sad reading. The late MDC-T leader himself has been accused of fomenting the ensuing confusion by appointing two extra vice-presidents. One of the vice-presidents, Nelson Chamisa, became the target of political vitriol from fellow comrades aligned to Thokozani Khupe.
Khupe has also been subject of attack from some misguided elements within the main opposition party. The violence visited upon Khupe in Buhera should be condemned in the strongest terms possible especially in a democracy-purporting party.
The major bone of contention in the MDC-T is, to put it simply, who leads the party after the death of Tsvangirai. It is apparent there is a power struggle. Khupe, as seen clearly in her actions and speech, believes she is the elected of the three vice-presidents and hence must lead the party. Elias Mudzuri also made his intentions known through his spirited efforts, even availing a picture of Tsvangirai’s hands signing a party document while on a hospital bed, to prove he had been appointed acting president for the beleaguered party. The youth in the party have not been left out, making their thoughts felt although through unorthodox means.
Now, while I hold respect for Khupe and Mudzuri, I believe they should be shrewd enough not to fight with the inevitable. Like I highlighted before, the obtaining events threaten to rip the party apart and this is hardly the time to skirt around the truth. Chamisa is evidently the man to lead this party as evidenced by his massive grassroots support. This is, however, not to set aside the democratic processes of electing leaders; the three leaders will certainly have to go for an elective congress. Even if we are to overlook Chamisa’s massive support, it is apparent that Tsvangirai knew it well and hinted at it prior to his death. In fact, what Tsvangirai did was not to hint but to almost express in his statement relating to leaving the levers of power to a younger generation.
If the other two vice-presidents are honest with themselves, they should see and acknowledge how the winds of change are blowing. This acknowledgement would save the party of unnecessary bickering and discord. As things stand, Zanu PF could be poised for an easy victory; they are not mired in retrogressive power struggles. It is a fact that no progress was ever achieved during epochs of fighting. If Khupe and Mudzuri would have the big heart like Tsvangirai had, they would see the sense of it. This, however, is not to say the party must not go to an elective congress.
The MDC-T as a party has come through a difficult process, losing, in cold blood, some of its illustrious sons. It will be a sad day if people will walk away from the party simply because the leadership cannot agree on what is plain and evident.
It is a self-evident fact that African politics in general, and Zimbabwean politics in particular, are not theoretical and academic where bookish and legalistic notions win the day. Politics this side of the hemisphere is about connectivity with the grassroots.
True, Khupe could have cited that she is the elected of the three; Mudzuri could claim he was left in an acting capacity but what prevails at the end of the day is grassroots connection, which Chamisa has in abundance.
Progress, I will repeat again, should lead the ego. The MDC- T’s future survival is largely dependent on the ability to accept the inevitable. A scenario can be envisaged where the MDC- T party is likely to lose crucial votes if this matter is not handled in a manner that taps into wisdom. What is extremely important at this crucial moment, with elections due in a few months, is unity within the party.
Unity of purpose is the best send-off gift that can be handed to Tsvangirai. He understood that bettering the lives of people weighed more than egos. It is the reason why, to his detriment, he got into a government of national unity which he was blamed for giving Zanu PF a life line.
After all is said and done, let it be grasped that national progress must lead and egos must follow behind.
Learnmore Zuze is a law officer and writes in his own capacity. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org