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Lets respect, understand and take Zanu PF seriously

By Courage Shumba

A person who never analyses his enemy has himself to blame should he find him/ herself  demolished and buried under the weight of history.

The MDC Trinity: Tendai Biti, Nelson Chamisa and Morgan Tsvangirai laughing at the contents of the Zanu PF Election Manifesto
The MDC Trinity: Tendai Biti, Nelson Chamisa and Morgan Tsvangirai laughing at the contents of the Zanu PF Election Manifesto

Struggles are about enemy camps and their ideas and the better we started taking Zanu PF seriously the better for our country.

Taking Zanu PF seriously is not about displaying angry faces or angry slogans but accepting the depth of the enemy and choosing the best ways to engage and harm his ability to cheat his way into power and privilege.

Taking an enemy seriously is about knowledge, organisational priorities and policies. Its about constantly weighing situations, analysing developments, weaknesses, strengths and choosing the right moment to act.

Today the opposition is in disarray fragmented by poor decision making, arrogance and lack of foresight. Zanu PF on the other hand is building bridges quietly amid what of course was never going to be a smooth sailing transition.

The MDC leadership needs to accept the brutal truth that its defeats in the last three elections are linked to its organisational weaknesses. A strong organisation rallies its constituency on strong principles, real idealogical convictions, not opportunistic and circumstantial setbacks of its enemy camps.

Long term realism, continuous evaluation of strengths and weaknesses are a prerequisite in neutralising enemies and securing permanent lifetime victories. All opposition parties in Zimbabwe must understand this and be positioned to build bridges and work with those who offer Zimbabweans the prospect of a better life.

Our struggle needs something much more defined and substantial in terms of direction than mere general complaints and accusations or outcries and anger over injustice and inequality aimed at the incumbent system. The MDC fails to give us this instead offering some muffled generally good principles of co-existence like love one another, do not steal etc.

Tsvangirai has seemingly survived for all these years without really telling anybody what he is about besides wanting to replace Mugabe to become the president himself. And the problem is with his party which wants to continue a politics of cults, of political supermen like Mugabe, who controls, runs , serves, and saves everybody out of the reserves of his personal might.

It remains to be said to them that Tarzan and Superman are fictional cartoon characters designed for children whilst decision making at this level of politics, in this tragic spell in our country’s life, is a matter for grown men and women expecting no easy answers.

Tsvangirai has been a divisive individual going back to 2005. That is not to be encouraged or rewarded.

Tsvangirai’s divisiveness created splinter groups in our once focused movement. That is to be regretted. This struggle within a struggle only plays into the hands of the enemy. We equip him with our shallowness ,our lack of  vision, our limited ability to understand who we are fighting.

Mugabe has a strong team of advisers and when they go to war they mean business. He has schemers who can turn a teaspoon spillage into a watershed and we the adversaries of such a system have the luxury to break up an already fragile opposition.

When Mugabe took on Ian Douglas Smith he planned for him.

When you are threatened in your sphere on matters that touch your life directly you do not overreact . You retreat and plan. You make alliances with people who see what you see and understand why your views are situated where they stand.

You do not allow yourself to be distracted or to be assimilated into gimmicks that create false new realities intended to mislead you. We are a family that cannot be broken, cannot be split, cannot have new parentage outside its natural democratic and moral cause. We are family of democrats and are therefore not in this revolution to incubate and produce another dictator.

Many political party’s have been formed in protest over the manner in which some persons at Harvest House seek to close down the rise of new ideas and talents. And Tsvangirai’s failure to allow new talent and ideas in the democratic movement undermines his appeal and ability to hold together the movement at the most crucial point of its life.

When he was elected to lead the party not a single person was under any illusion or impression that he was a genius. In fact his lack of wit seemed to be his attraction for a people who wanted someone who was rather ordinary, approachable and who would feel the need to borrow ideas from all around.

Such a person would understand his limitations and consult widely thereby bringing ideas to the fore of the movement and once in power to the life and governance of the nation. Such was the attraction.

By chasing away whoever disagrees with him and calling on them to form new political parties he showcases the unattractive side of the limitation he suffers. He must think that a political party is formed to accommodate politicians and therefore we can all have our own political parties in due course.

I hesitate to think that it feels like something that you do with your wife by claiming her against advances from other persons who naturally are expected to find their own provinces for their affection.

Tsvangirai ought to know that when you are a political opposition you are an alternative government in the eyes of the electorate. So they watch you, and watch the government in power. They listen to you and listen to the government in power. They observe.

An alternative government must concentrate on bringing together public opinion to its side. An alternative government must look viable. It must show its talents, its diversity, its willingness to engage even radical ideas.

Those that lead it must always show a willingness to be replaced at some point as a matter of continuity and stability. Mandela did it , Mbeki did it. In Botswana they have been doing it for decades, Zambia, Malawi. Our neighbours.

Tsvangirai could have strengthened his appeal by keeping together the founding team and subjecting its decisions to other democratic platforms within the party to ensure those opinions or proposals are the subject of democratic choices.

By making himself the decision maker, and fighting rival ideas without subjecting them to the internal structures of the party for neutral decisions he has come out very ordinary and dull. He has elected to be the problem person when he could have been the convener rallying able , brave and talented minds to work out policy and strategy.

My grandfather, Headmen Aaron Shumba, was the face of his people. He convened and listened calming the debate to remained focused. Each man spoke. Each man was heard and at the end the people voted.

You preside by convening your best people to argue out facts and present a way forward which is then further subjected to scrutiny by other stakeholders for them to own it.

You do not shout people out of a political party, an organ in which even those outside must be begged, worshipped even to come in. You do not display indifference at losing members, followers, supporters and claim you wish to win or you know what you are doing.

I find myself admiring my decision to join the NCA and being part a movement that is clearly focused on changing the priorities and focus of our politics.

The NCA promises to move away from gathering around a cult personality instead building an institution where ideas not personalities are the substance of appeal. An organisation which recognises this reality offers an attractive proposition for a future in which vision not celebrity status is the hallmark of a good leader.

My confidence in politics is renewed by the prospect of a fresh, young people’s  party that has a ten year plan for building structures, a message, an ideology that is clearly about promoting the economy and welfare of Africans, democratic institutions, accountability and justice.

The NCA represents the answer and alternative to a politics that is fruitlessly anchored to slogans at the expense of a genuine commitment to changing our approach to politics as a determinant of the quality and nature of lives we live as a people.

I hope our politics will mature and focus on ideas and allow Zimbabwe to live under leaderships that compete to deliver value.

Courage Shumba writes in his personal capacity