By Benjamin Chitate
Politicians and political commentators have had their say on the ascendancy of Professor Welshman Ncube to the helm of MDC-N. Some have dismissed his rise as a non-event, while others have showered him with praise and embraced him as a capable and intelligent leader.
What most of the commentators seemed to miss is the tribalistic element in Professor Ncube’s rise which was pronounced by Professor Ncube himself and the late MDC-M Vice-President Gibson Sibanda.
The commentators may have missed media articles in which Professor Ncube and the late Gibson Sibanda told a rally in Bulawayo that they had made a mistake inviting Professor Mutambara to lead the party. They both reportedly bemoaned the invitation of a Shona person to lead the party, and vowed that come next election, they would field a Ndebele as a candidate for presidency.
In my opinion, that is where Professor Ncube got it wrong. People should not be elected to leadership for a non-tribalistic national political party on tribal basis, yet all that Professor Ncube and the late Sibanda wanted was a Ndebele person to be the next leader of the splinter group and be able to contest in the country’s next presidential elections.
If Professor Ncube and the late Gibson Sibanda were as talented and intelligent as Silence Chihuri and others who have heaped praise on Professor Ncube want us to believe, the two would have said the party made the mistake of inviting someone who had not been in the party for two years as required by both MDCs’ constitutions.
They appointed someone who had been out of the country for too long and was out of touch with local realities, someone who had not been actively involved in party politics apart from stints with the now defunct Zimbabwe Unity Movement while a student at the University of Zimbabwe.
Having played a meaningful role in the formation of the National Constitutional Assembly, and having been the founding secretary-general of the original MDC were enough reasons to justify MDC-N presidency for Professor Ncube, rather than talk about the need for a Ndebele leader for the party and for the nation.
Yes, Ndebeles, like every other Zimbabwean, have the right to contest for any position in a political party and at government level, but not when they say, vote for me because I am Ndebele as is the case here.
Another blunder which could cost Professor Ncube’s political career is his public refusal to work with MDC-T in the next election. If the media did not misquote him, he is said to have said it was to be each man for himself, and there was no way his party would work with another party, especially MDC-T, blaming the failure for the two parties to work together in the last election on Morgan Tsvangirai, never bothering to acknowledge the fact that it was the then MDC-M which made unrealistic demands on the proportion of candidates each party was supposed to field especially in Bulawayo.
In fact the MDC-T came out with more seats in Bulawayo than they had negotiated for. To blame Tsvangirai for the failure to reach agreement in the last election is out of question. Going it alone in the next elections may prove to be the end of MDC-N, especially if mass defections of councillors and other officials to MDC-T in Matebeleland are anything to go by.
More progressive politicians in MDC-N like David Coltart, have been recently quoted saying going it alone reduces the chances of defeating Robert Mugabe the dictator and they would be happier if political parties opposed to the dictator could work together in the next elections. I have nothing against Professor Ncube, as I actually admire some of his strengths, but his blunders may wipe off his strengths and he may find himself in the political dustbin.
Benjamin Chitate writes from New Zealand
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