Archive | August, 2013

MDC T – Disengage and then what?

23 Aug

To be in or not in government is the question that bedevils the MDC T both in and outside Zimbabwe today. I have asked colleagues on the practicalities, meaning and likely effect of the “disengagement” that is being touted by President Morgan Tsvangirai and many others in the MDC T. No concrete responses have been given to this question as most people still continue arguing that the MDC T was robbed. I am not for the disengagement position for a number of strategic and personal reasons.
– The MDC and President Tsvangirai have not come out clearly defining the parameters of this disengagement. Does it mean that the MDC will not go to Zimbabwe’s courts where we know George Chiweshe will be keenly waiting to pounce on any electoral challenges; does it mean that MPs won’t take up their seats in Parliament; does this mean that city councils will be left to ZANU PF officials to do as they wish? If this is what the disengagement will entail then the MDC as a party is doomed and ZANU PF will bury it permanently six feet under never to rise again even as a ghost voter.
– It would be ill advised for the MDC T MPs elect to renege on their election to the Houses of Assembly and Senate as they would be betraying their supporters and constituents who have braved the GNU for the last 5 years waiting to remove the crass institution called ZANU PF.
– At a personal level, I am very afraid of a situation where the MDC T tries to rally people against ZANU PF at this juncture through boycotts and public protests. ZANU PF through its CIOs, police and the army will descend on the high density and rural areas beating up MDC people. I am not willing to have any of my relatives, friends or colleagues maimed by these animals or having them exiled leaving small businesses they had revived and so on.
– ZANU PF should not be allowed any inkling of space that they failed to rig away on 31 July. The fact of the matter is that ZANU PF would have loved to have a whitewash but there are some constituencies where this just proved impossible. Do you think that ZANU PF was joking and playing gaffe when they were fielding candidates in each and every constituency. They were hoping on their rigging tactics and a bit of luck but Zimbabweans refused them this and the victories must be maintained.
– The people who have been calling for the boycott or disengagement or whatever they want to call it are not being honest if the truth be told. Imagine, you have been CEO of some successful enterprise and you have won the election in some constituency and now you stand the real risk of being a back bencher in a ZANU PF dominated government, where you know clearly you will become a rubber stamp to ZANU PF policies. Some people are counting the opportunity costs and in doing so now want to be seen to be commiserating with President Tsvangirai and seemingly being in the same fold in calling for the disengagement. This is true hypocrisy, if people do not want to take up their positions then they must honestly tell Zimbabweans that they are ready to give that small part of the MDC victory to ZANU PF on a silver platter because the expected material gains won’t be coming their way after all now that they will be backbenchers.
– The ZANU PF that democrats in Zimbabwe are faced with today is not the ZANU PF of yesteryear. They are an injured party struggling with their own succession politics which makes them behave like a cornered cat with only one motive – survival. On this note, they will do anything to retain executive authority and the long term incumbency. The occupation of political office makes it easy to do this. Furthermore, there are a number of Young Turks and other rich buggers in ZANU PF in the ilk of Kasukuwere; Kereke; Nhema; Mzembi; Obert Mpofu, almost all the children of senior officials such as the Mnangwagas, the Muzendas, and so on. These young people have been providing a lot of the strategic thinking and advice and the MDC T must not underestimate these people’s capacity to organize and lure supporters to their camp in any by -elections that can be called if they “disengage”.
As Ibbo Mandaza has pointedly noted, ZANU PF will be more than ready to tell Zimbabweans that “if you think you don’t like us we will tell you that we don’t give a damn about you as well”. What is now needed is for Zimbabwe to avert the disasters of yester year where we had to go to Botswana to look for bread and cooking oil, do banking, and runaway to faraway countries for safety and have our relatives die of primitive diseases such as cholera because of sanctions. The Western countries need to give Zimbabwe a chance. This means engaging Zimbabweans through other channels such as NGOs and direct support to Zimbabweans.
For the MDC this means that the party has to go back to the drawing board, identify its weaknesses, see what happened in the last 5 years and where they could have missed the point and been distracted by ZANU PF. More importantly however, if a spade is to be called a spade, The President of the party Morgan Tsvangirai if he is to be fair to himself, he will have to step down and leave the baton to other leaders. In the end, his leadership will have to be measured on how he handles this one. Not an easy one to chew but I think his time is up.

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