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NCA Departure and Compass into the Dustbin of History? A Response to Zhangazha

By Lenin Tinashe Chisaira

Firstly this is a response to Cde Takura Zhangazha’s facebook and blog post, ‘The National Constitutional Assembly’s False Departure and Lost Compass’ that was published on Saturday on the day of the 25 January 2014 council by-elections in Zaka’s Ward 32, Harare’s Ward 12 and Karoi’s Ward 10; and the maiden electoral appearance of the NCA Party.

Lenin Tinashe Chisaira
Lenin Tinashe Chisaira

Secondly, I respect every individual’s freedom of conscience, expression and association.

But fundamentally as one of the numerous cadres who have joined the NCA Party and who believes in its mission as the current sole electoral voice of social and economic justice in Zimbabwe, it becomes a constitutional right and obligation to respond to Zhangazha’s article.

Takura Zhangazha, who read out the statement that transformed the NCA into a political party at the NCA extraordinary congress in 2013, and the former Director of Information Cde Blessing Vava have publicly announced their resignation from the party.

It is to be expected that people don’t always give the complete picture surrounding their decisions. Any way it’s expected that party membership would have the right of responding publicly, in the spirit of democracy and honest debate.

Suspect Timing or ‘Ayesaba Amagwala’

Zhangazha’s decision to leave the NCA did not come about as a result of an internal or formal disagreement. He chose to engage in an informal debate with comrades who rightly felt that the party should contest in elections, and he went into hibernation after that, choosing only to write a quick letter to the public announcing the resignation on the eve of the elections.

The timing would be highly suspect to announce a resignation in the midst of an election. One would be forgiven for concluding that the comrades felt that the election as lost, so they felt smear than to be tainted by defeat. Hence the quick way out.

That would be a blatant sign of cowardice, where Cde Julius Malema would break into the song ‘Ayesaba Amagwala’. Furthermore that timing lacked mature strategy and was filled with spite. How could people choose to go public about an internal disagreement when people are going to the polls?

A movement from below or an elitist party

In an elitist movement, people fears for positions and individual mobility tend to hold more sway that the wishes of the people. There are people who get impatient with the Congress being pushed to a later time.

Their sole reason being that their positions become less secure as the movement takes shape from the grassroots. The people of Mbare got together and decided on an electoral symbol for the by-elections, choosing a symbol that spoke of the need for food unlike open palms and national monuments.

That such crucial decisions are coming from the grassroots in itself becomes threatening to self imposed ‘leaders’ at the top, who have no link with the masses except through facebooking and blogging.

Furthermore a grassroots linked cadre, would know that the true path to win an argument in a peoples’ party would be by going to the people on the ground and convincing them by honest argumentation.

In the NCA at least there was that opportunity which the comrades failed to utilise. At least in some organisations or parties dishonest leadership would try to fast track debate and hoodwink unsuspecting comrades.

So yes, comrades the NCA will not ‘create cult symbols’ and will remain an organisation that ‘has history thrust upon it’ and indeed ‘no one is indispensable’. The march is long and will continue with those comrades who are prepared to face reality, that the path to building a peoples’ party committed to social justice is never easy.

The later we hold the congress the better and the more we face this situation, setbacks and debates the nearer we reach the goal of a qualitative people’s party.

Whose Departure? Whose Compass?

The departure from inactivity and lobbying politicians to challenging them, at least the short term causes of it are rooted in the Vote No Campaign of last year. The campaign that was undertaken by committed cadres from the trade union, students union movements, left organisations and social movements and some parties like the MDC99.

The campaign was bringing together young activists like myself and fellow students at the time and experienced activists, some of whom have seen the launch of both the NCA, MDC etc.

The way we saw it was that the decision to form a party in a supposedly two-party society was going to be a brave and ideological one. That it was to be a brave one, was seen by some comrades who knew that the MDC/Zanu PF narrative was no longer beneficial to the country’s electoral politics, but because of cowardice decided to be ‘do-nothings’, critics who are afraid of going and facing the people themselves.

Some of our cadres in the Vote No campaign retreated to their shells due to cowardice and betrayed the cause, leaving the burden upon the NCA. The departure of the NCA was hence by all material facts a brave one. However some fell along the way, and better that they fell away at the beginning of the journey when we haven’t entrusted our backs to them.

These comrades and others have lost their compasses, for even if there are to join other parties or likely coalitions in the long run, they will always depart and run away at the first whiff of the meet-the-people gunpowder.

Some have runaway from leaving politics of the offices because they are afraid of talking and listening to the organic intellectualism of the people. The people who have legitimate cause to be informed that the 2013 Constitution process was a historic deception.

The people who have to know that the deceptive politicians no longer had the moral right nor authority to be lobbied, but to be met head-on at the polling station and in parliament and council rooms.

And at the same to be met on the streets, in campuses, villages and towns like what the people of Chitungwiza have done in the past week that Zhangazha and his comrades have chickened out of a party that was departing from elitism to community organising.

Not to be spared are trade union and students union leaders who urge their supposed followers to follow the outdated concept of economism that stated that ‘workers and students’ have no place in politics, that they must concentrate on bread and butter issues and leave politics to the politicians.

Comrades it’s highly dishonest to go public due to actions that have resulted from cowardice. And being scared of the ordinary people would make an elitist person who dreams of travelling first class run out of the mbombela class of the freedom train and claim that others have lost the compass.

We may never have been travelling in the same direction in the first place; neither would the people spare first class seats for self-styled leaders.

Since it is fashionable to quote late revolutionaries, here is one phrase that was made famous by Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. On 25 October 1917, there was a meeting of the Congress of Soviets when news came that the Bolsheviks were seizing power.

Other perfectionists, cowards, do-nothings and Mensheviks decided not to participate in the Congress and to walk out of the room where the Congress was being held. As these people were leaving, refusing participation, holding on to the past and to their faulty compasses, Trotsky taunted them, by proclaiming –truthfully as it turned out-that they were on their way into the dustbin of history! Adieu!