MDC-T and the folly of riding on the back of a beast
By William Muchayi
The inferno that has engulfed the MDC-T party culminating in the savage attack of senior officials at their Bulawayo offices over the weekend is not only regrettable but was avoidable had sanity prevailed among cadres stuck in trenches fighting an entrenched dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.
Alas, to the amazement of many, Chalton Hwende, the party’s deputy treasurer general appears to endorse this barbaric and heinous assault on Thokozani Khupe, Abednico Bhebhe and Lovemore Moyo by alleged party youths who masquerade as revolutionaries but are in fact rogue thugs.
It has to be realised that all is now damage limitation but the party’s image has been soiled. As if that is not enough, the party’s first response to this drama was less convincing and at worst feeble as attempts were made to apportion blame on the dreaded CIO, an accusation that directly contradicts Hwende’s celebrations unless the party is infiltrated by intelligence personnel who happen to be these rogue thugs behind the assault.
As a start, investigations should unearth the identity of all these rogue elements, their funders as well as senior officials who were privy to their mission? In fact, Chalton Hwande might help in these investigations as his blessings of their barbarism can’t be mere coincidence.
The probe can’t afford to be perceived as a whitewash since at stake is the survival of the party in the eyes not only of locals but the international community. Of concern is the fact that these ugly incidences have been witnessed before, for instance, Elton Mangoma’s assault a few years ago and whether investigations were conducted or not it remains a mystery.
Regrettably, President Tsvangirai is of the opinion that there is no going back on the notion of Zimbabweans working together to unseat the Mugabe regime and that he has an exclusive mandate to achieve this goal as directed by the National Council.
In fact, no one is opposed to the idea of a coalition to unseat Mugabe but the grey area is on terms of any coalition agreement. Even Thokozani Khupe, Abednico Bhebhe and Lovemore Moyo are not opposed to this noble idea but it is how the party achieves this goal that is in dispute.
In British politics, Theresa May has become the subject of scorn and caricature for her inability to be articulate on serious issues like Brexit. For instance, after being grilled on her understanding of the term, her childish answer was that Brexit means Brexit. What a joke!
In the same vein, Thokozani Khupe’s opposition to Tsvangirai’s strategy should not be interpreted as a snub of the whole idea of a grand coalition. At stake here are the terms of any agreement with other opposition parties. In contention here is the fact that even if the President has the mandate to negotiate any deal with other parties, under no circumstances does he have monopoly over the whole exercise as others do have every right to raise the flag on matters of concern.
That is the democracy Tonderai Ndira, Tichaona Chiminya and other fallen heroes sacrificed their lives for. In this case, the flag has been raised in Matabeleland Province and it would be naïve for President Tsvangirai to simply dismiss concerns of the aggrieved for the sake of pleasing coalition partners at the expense of harmony in his own party.
Put in context, it is no secret that the MDC-T has a deficiency of shrewd negotiators as evidenced by their stint in the GNU where they failed dismally to force Zanu PF to implement a single reform during their marriage of convenience. And, with this track record, it becomes more pertinent for genuine cadres to intervene as and when necessary during the course of the coalition negotiations as Khupe, Bhebhe and Moyo did without being victimised.
It is misleading if not a deliberate distortion of facts to assume that the bone of contention in the MDC-T centres on power. On the contrary, it has its roots on strategy to execute the struggle. On this premise, it implies that President Tsvangirai can’t afford to extend an olive branch to Welshman Ncube let alone Tendai Biti at the expense of cadres who have been loyal to him ever since.
Yes, the President was mandated by National Council to enter into negotiations with other parties, but, did he disclose to his constituencies in Matusadonha, Chikwakwa, Checheche, Binga and Mpopoma the terms of any such agreements?
For, in any negotiations with other parties, the MDC-T can’t afford to give without receiving in return. And, with due respect, what will the MDC-T benefit in return for striking a deal with Elton Mangoma, Egypt Dzinemunhenzva let alone Tendai Biti or Jacob Ngarivhume? Rather, it would be more strategic to strike one with Joyce Mujuru who has a sizeable following in rural constituencies where the MDC-T struggles.
As for Elton Mangoma and Biti, the best they could do is to disband their outfits and rejoin the mother party rather than being shielded by the coalition arrangement. If Job Sikhala was humble enough to do it, why can’t others follow suit and be rewarded accordingly rather than hiding behind the coalition umbrella?
On this premise, it is more rewarding in the long run for the MDC-T to incentivise their prodigal sons rather than shield those from outside the tent in the name of a coalition. That is all what Khupe, Bhebhe and Moyo advocate for as opposed to opposition to the idea of a grand coalition.
Indeed, these are genuine concerns which Tsvangirai can’t afford to dismiss as an attempt to sabotage his idea of Zimbabweans working together to unseat Mugabe. The President has to go back to his constituencies and disclose terms of any deal he wishes to sign and get feedback.
After this exhausting exercise, he will be better informed of the views of cadres rather than rely on findings of the first countrywide tour. Party officials should be free to agree to disagree amicably without fear of victimisation by thugs who masquerade as cadres in the midst of revolutionaries.
In the same token, it has to be realised that inflammatory language within the party can stoke tensions that will result in violence as witnessed during the weekend, for, it is no coincidence that Khupe, Bhebhe and Moyo were assaulted on Sunday, a day after the signing of the alliance agreement in Harare.
William Muchayi is a pro-democracy campaigner who can be contacted on [email protected]