Voters mustn’t give one party too much power

Just when we thought we had seen the worst of the MDC-T’s internecine mayhem, which has even caused collateral damage outside the main opposition party itself, the party – in its wisdom or lack thereof – saw it fit to treat the nation to another orgy of violence in Bulawayo at the weekend.

By CONWAY TUTANI

Supporters of the party’s vice-president, Thokozani Khupe, were left blooded following a mob attack by professed backers of Nelson Chamisa, the – in his own words this week – “anointed successor” to the late MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who died last month.

And the background to this chaos could be a replication of this erudite observation:

“As pointed out by Putnam (1976), modern political . . . selection falls under the control of local party organisations and other organised political ‘selectorates’. Party ‘selectorates’ . . . tend to select complacent and spectacular candidates, those with established name, image and reputation. This results in the negative selection of party ‘hacks’, dynastic ‘scions’, local celebrities and professional politicians – especially lawyers, who combine oratory skills with professional autonomy . . . In a nutshell – and one may say paradoxically – contemporary ‘leader democracies’ fail to develop a reliable system of selecting, grooming and protecting leaders, and this failure results in frequent leadership vacuums with all their disastrous consequences.” (Towards Leader Democracy by Jan Pakulski and Andras Korosenyi).

I did not say it – shoot the message, not the messenger – but this is exactly what has happened in the MDC-T; this has gone according to the script with the rise of Chamisa. This shows that Chamisa is not necessarily the best, but that the selection of party “selectorates” ensured his rise; the system was loaded in his favour.
This rampage shows that political violence has not been as one-sided as some opposition supporters and apologists in academia would make it out to be. It has been proved that violence is as embedded and as pervasive in the MDC-T as in Zanu PF and that party might as well boast that it matches Zanu PF in having “degrees in violence”, as former President Robert Mugabe bragged when he was at the top of his game.

To those with open eyes and open ears, this is nothing new. On August 10, 2017 – following the initial mob attack on Khupe again in Bulawayo, this paper, NewsDay, reported: “. . . an internal MDC-T memo written in 2011 by the then secretary for welfare, Kerry Kay, reveals that intra-party violence has been part and parcel of the opposition party since its formation in 1999”.

Before the latest attack, the MDC Alliance spokesperson, Welshman Ncube, had said this following the violence targeting Khupe at – of all places and occasions – Tsvangirai’s burial last month: “Violence and threats of violence should have no place in our political discourse. . The MDC encourages the acting president of the MDC-T (Chamisa) to continuously show zero tolerance to violence and to consistently speak against it.”

Ncube basically said the buck stops with Chamisa; that Chamisa cannot pass the buck to someone else; that responsibility for violence cannot and should not be transferred to anyone else – Zanu PF included – in the same way that Kay, in her report to the MDC-T standing committee seven years ago, bluntly and unequivocally laid the problem firmly on Tsvangirai’s doorstep.

Kay wrote: “With respect, it is evident from various reports on intra-party violence since 2000 that the modus operandi has been the same throughout: The youth involved were expelled, but the insigators of the violence have not been dealt with and, therefore, the cycle continues. It is evident from the statement made by one of the youth perpetrators in the 2010 HH (Harvest House) violence that the instigators came from the president’s (Tsvangirai’s) office.”

Well, the response this time around has, under the circumstances, been muted and mild. Condemnation has not been strong enough – that is why repeats have become more frequent and more vicious since 2011. Because of that, violence has mestacised in the MDC-T – like cancer that has spread to all parts of the body.

Kay tellingly concluded: “This is not the first time (to put the MDC-T violence) on record.” That was in 2011. Seven years later and still counting, it has to be placed on record again that nothing has changed and, in fact, things have got much worse.

Is there any wonder that only a day or two before the attack on Khupe, Chamisa had to transfer his Press conference to the Media Centre after journalists were threatened with violence at the MDC headquarters, the intended venue? It’s a crying shame.

And is Chamisa himself actually that democratic? Would someone who holds democratic values proclaim that voting must be made compulsory? Would a democrat say carrying out with “small houses” (Zimbabwean slang for mistresses) should be criminalised like in some fundamentalist Arab states, where female adulterers are stoned to death in this day and age? And Chamisa’s invocation of God being on his side over what amount to partisan political party issues is dangerous in itself – the same justification used by Islamic fundamentalists.

It is now up to voters themselves to rescue the situation with the general elections looming. They could exercise what is called tactical voting – variously referred to as strategic voting, or sophisticated voting or insincere voting or, to localise it, bhora musango.

Tactical voting occurs in elections with two or more candidates when a voter supports another candidate more strongly than their sincere preference in order to prevent an undesirable outcome such as making one party too powerful.

For instance, one can vote for the Zanu PF presidential candidate, but at parliamentary and local authority level go for MDC-T candidates and vice-versa because the nation cannot afford to swing from one extreme to another.

This is the most effective way of keeping either party – Zanu PF and MDC-T –in check because it has been proved that they are no different in terms of excesses, including corruption and violence. They need to be kept on a tight rein – otherwise they will behave like the runaway horse we have had for the past 38 years. It’s up to us voters to manage the change, not swallow it – and we have the power to do that.

What’s the point of replacing like for like?

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

28 Comments

  1. haha u are suggesting bhora musango to opposition party supporters it doesnt sound intellictual because the grand prize is presidency that changes the complection of the nation..anyone who considers the aforesaid concept is ignorant coz its like shooting yourself in the foot..chamisa hoyeeeee

  2. You just felt u needed to say smthng.

  3. All your articles about Chamisa are pregnant with malice, hatred and hameno …

    1. GOGODERA, we not all Chamisa worshippers like you.

  4. kwame Nkrumah gave himself the title “osagyefo/the Redeemer” much to his downfall

  5. For a good number of those in the MDC, eyes and ears are shut to the irreparable damage being caused by this violent and mindless behaviour. MDC is losing more sympathisers by the day, until more in its membership unequivocally denounce violence in all its forms. My two cents worth…..

    1. well said Conway chamisa is a little Mugabe in the making but we want generational change it is inevitable what i propose is we must vote in the M DC-T youths to keep ed in check.

  6. Ovidy Matindivo

    This time you got it wrong man. Our political system is such that the executive rides roughshod over legislature and judiciary. Look at what Obert Mpofu did to parliament and hasn’t been punished for such blatant disrespect. Power is heavily concentrated on the hands of the executive in general and the president in particular. You seem to have forgotten how much Kasukuwere paralyzed local authorities by malicious suspensions of mayors and councilors who are opposition politicians. One party should assume power if there is going to be any change. Voters must choose the lesser evil.

  7. I believe what we need is a total dilution of parly. If we give too much power to one party as mentioned we wont have much traction because as it stands we are recylcing the same Zanu and MDC guys. More independents if we can 5 people like Mliswa who can make points I believe we can have more traction

  8. Tactical voting becomes quite unpredictable, if not doomed to failure, in a country where the ruling party is known to lean heavily on the scales (openly as well as surreptitiously), during any election. For now, if we seek to restrain our politicians (regarding violence as well as any other wayward tendencies), it might be better in the longer term to foster professionalism in our institutions (e.g ZEC, ZRP, ConCourt and judicial system, the media etc. There are one or two examples of the merits of such a strategy, e.g. the Kenyan courts in the recent elections,,, or SA’s Office of the Public Protector.

  9. I have to admit, I like Conway Tutani articles. They are very pregnant with wisdom. At the same time I am an ardent Chamisa supporter. He has a mountain to climb in so far as averting the potential powder keg that is Khuphe and others. I do wish him well, whether he wins or loses, the main guarantee that he has is my vote.

  10. Well said Tutani,but comparing MDC T with Zanu pf in terms of violence is like comparing a teacher and a student.Zanu pf are lecturers on violence and unfortunately a few bad apples in the Democratic party have taken a leaf from Zanu pf.On the other hand lets not forget that Zanu pf is so cunning that it could be sponsoring these seemingly stage managed violence so that both parties may be seen to be at par in terms of political violence.Otherwise the law enforcement agents should just arrest the perpetrators of violence and bring them to book.I have observed that in most cases where opposition supporters are arrested with lightning speed when ever they try to defend themselves from marauding Zanu pf thugs,why not use the same speed to bring the culprits to book?Zanu pf supporters are safely protected by the police and in most cases they beat up and even kill opposition supporters and go scotfree.The victims of violence are usually the ones to be arrested for violence.Intra party violence is still violence and should be discouraged.

    1. Anonymous, you have nailed it however Tutani seem to hate Chamisa with passion you just can’t put a good man down

  11. The problem with MDC supporters is that they were taught that everthing bad is churned out from Zanu PF hence they cannot recognise and solve their bad situations…..MDC and Zanu has the numbers when it comes to supporters hence divergence in thinking from member to member within each of the political parties’ ranks. Violence is awash at both ends hence the leaders ought to castigate it.

  12. My problem with this whole prognosis is the utter shallowness. For starters, if Khupe and company have the interests of MDC T at heart, why are they dishing our damaging interviews to partisan national broadcasters instead of settling the matter internally as marure politicians ought to do. At least Zanu PF would curtly tell media that their problems where internal, thats maturity.Secondly, given the high turnout and obvious revival of MDC T after the death of Tsvangirai, to me it seems the violence is sponsored by intelligence to tarnish the glistening image and goodwill. Why would Chamisa want to soil his name by sponsoring violence against a lost cause like Khupe? Unfortunately, we do not have any brave journalists who can dig into this obvious sponsored mayhem. Poor article Tuts, by your standards.

  13. conway watanga watotanga kutaura kwausina kuswera,pane alliance kwete kuti Chamisa nokusingaperi bumbiro redu roti 2 terms uye zanu yabuda topatsanura alliance toti ngatiite free,fair n credible elections izvi zvichaitwa next vote uye mdc t ichatsvaga umwe for now Chamisa is a neccecity to dethrone curent regime.conway dont force ur opinions on us

    1. g40, don’t force your opinion on CONWAY

  14. Chamisa is at the centre of MDC-T violence-the only reason why he didn’t call his thugs he sent to beat Khupe at Tsvangirai’s burial in Buhera & at the Bulawayo MDC-T offices,to n MDC-T disciplinary hearing if at he has really assumed the presidency of the party;they are known thugs of the party youth league,who also threatened to beat Mudzuri at the Harvst House in the full glare of chamisa himself.Vana Khupe mandevere kavo munoti havaoni kuti muri kuvabata rough.He is the man behind the violence but only being clever

  15. The problem with most mdc supprters is they r a grp of un educated people and lazy to make things worse thats why they are 2 ignorant to see that chamida and mugabe r just the same
    1) ) asking for sanctions from American
    2) ) being power hungry
    3) cousing violence
    5) nothing to deliver
    Uwokeup guys

  16. haaa chamisa wenyu taneta naye tiudzei zvebhora apa

  17. First Class Citizen

    The real problem is that you guys are sucking up to Tutani…….

  18. ukuda kuudzwa nani zvebora tsvaka wega ka zvebhora zvacho, feel free yu are not in prison

  19. Chipangano chauya

    zanu idiots handle Mugabefirst and then talk about next door stuff later i as a youth will never vote for your party because of obvious reasons

  20. Comment…it boggles the mind why some MDC supporters think that their party has more supporters than ZANU nationwide. They don’t know that they depend on protest vote which is likely to diminish coz Mugabe is gone. You aren’t going to the people to campaign thinking that they will just vote for u. You are like soccer fanatics who even bet for DeMbare win against Man City.

  21. CONWAY, I AGREE WITH YOU WHEN YOU SAY LETS NOT GIVE TOO MUCH POWER TO ONE PARTY. WITH UNLIMITED POWER THEY BULLDOZE THE CONSTITUTION AND ABUSE THAT POWER AT WILL. ITS NOT ABOUT PARTISANSHIP BUT ABOUT REAL GOVERNANCE OF THE COUNTRY ZIMBABWE THAT WE MUST HAVE IN MIND.
    POLITICIANS MUST NEVER BE TRUSTED WITH ABSOLUTE POWER ESPECIALLY AT NATIONAL LEVEL WE NEED CHECKS AND BALANCES FROM STRONG OPPOSITION. THE EXPERIENCES OF THE PAST 37 YEARS MUST TEACH US ON THE DEMERITS OF ABSOLUTE POWER.

    1. AT LEAST MNANGAGWA SEEMS TO HAVE GOT RID OF MUGABE CONSTITUTION

  22. In Zimbabwe Presidency is supreme. Forget zve checks and balances> Mugabe aiita sei even mumixed parliament.

  23. Comment…I do not fully appreciate the logic that party supporters stop supporting too much their political parties. The suggestion that we have people in need of other’s better guidance on how to vote correctly assails the rational mind. Why in the first place need we have right to vote placed in such hands?

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