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MDC feud and folly of seeking sanctuary in lion’s den

By William Muchayi

The acrimonious spat in the MDC has not only shaken the foundations of the main opposition party, but, at worst, exposed the limitations in the mindset of those purporting to be fighting for freedom. 

William Muchayi
William Muchayi

Not to the surprise of many, Jacob Mudenda, speaker of parliament, refused to be dragged in the mud by both the Biti and Tsvangirai camps in their tug of war through returning the case to each camp with the advice that a court of law was the best avenue to seek redress and not parliament.

The stance isn’t surprising for several reasons. Firstly, Mudenda, being a staunch Zanu PF member, didn’t want to give the impression that he is an interested party in the MDC wrangle for the issues at stake are internal to the opposition party.

In addition, wisdom taught the speaker that parliament has nothing to do with internal matters of a political entity like the MDC, for, the issues at stake could only be resolved by a court of law and not the speaker of parliament.

Not only that, chances are remote that Mudenda could have made a ruling as early as this hour, for, how can he stop the music, when Mugabe still dances on the stage?

It is naïve and at worst misleading to assume that the speaker is not interested in the affairs of the opposition, for, the longer the confusion drags on in the camp, the easier it becomes for Mugabe to entrench his dictatorship, thus, perpetuating his grip on power in spite of his advanced age and misrule, hence the decision to refer the case to the courts where it can drag on for years at the expense of the opposition and the oppressed.

Now that the case is back in the hands of Biti and Khupe, what are the implications of seeking redress in a court of law? As it stands , neither side is prepared to test the depth of the river, for, the current is unpredictable and not forgetting the fact that it’s infested with hungry crocodiles waiting to grab even a floating log.

By complying with Mudenda’s advice, both Biti and Khupe would have sought sanctuary in a lion’s den, for, Zimbabwean courts are known to be notorious in supporting Mugabe at the expense of those seeking justice and the move is synonymous to seeking treatment from a witch.

For, it is no secret that under Mugabe’s dictatorship, the judiciary has sadly become an extension of Zanu PF’s repressive arm and for the opposition to approach this institution to resolve their internal matters is naïve and at worst unfortunate.

Isn’t it that there are judges already lined up to preside over the case in a bid to extend Zanu PF’s hegemony? In any case, Biti’s camp would be the first to take such a gamble not only because they have little to lose from this debacle, but also, also taking into consideration the fact that Elton Mangoma has pursued this route before although without success to block his expulsion from the party.

Indeed, the camp may also capitalise on the combined legal expertise of Biti and his new found ally Welshman Ncube to push for a court confrontation and also not forgetting Mugabe’s blessings for their agenda as pronounced in his recent utterances when he weighed in the saga.

Since Mugabe publicly exposed his interest in the case, it’s a wonder if there is any judge who would dare rule against the renewal team, hence, a better option for the Biti camp to follow Mudenda’s advice.

However, the route is a double-edged sword for both camps as it loosens their grip on the case, leaving it in the hands of someone to deliver a final verdict, which may not be favourable.

In addition, a court tussle isn’t only time-consuming for both camps , but costly financially at a time the Tsvangirai camp especially is in dire financial constraints, a dilemma the Biti camp may capitalise on as they are alleged to have the backing of donors.

In addition, a court confrontation would be a blessing in disguise for the Biti camp as it can be effective public relations machinery at the expense of the Tsvangirai camp who are likely to be badly bruised even if on the winning side, for, who would opt to dry their pants in public?

Who knew Jacob Mafume before except that he is a losing candidate in one of the Harare constituencies in the past until the emergence of the renewal agenda only a few months ago? That is the publicity Biti and his camp strive for before launching their own party and the Tsvangirai camp doesn’t benefit anything from this dogfight for they stands to lose and not gain.

However, of much concern is the sudden unraveling of the love affair between Biti and Ncube who seem to have made peace with Mugabe with the new common enemy now being Tsvangirai.

In all his countless public utterances, Jacob Mafume rarely makes mention of Mugabe, a development that raises suspicions more so when the country is at the verge of an economic meltdown, the ugly face of unemployment not showing signs of easing, repression at its peak and not forgetting the ageing Mugabe still hanging on the throne beyond his welcome.

As all this fight rages on, it is Zanu PF against all odds who stand to win for the drama in the opposition camp masks Mugabe’s flaws, thus, diverting the attention of those fighting for emancipation.

The economy is in ruins, Mugabe isn’t getting any younger and it’s a matter of when and not why before treasury can’t pay the civil service, and who in their right minds would bother to dwell in triviality as is the case in the MDC camp?

Isn’t this drama synonymous with the folly of the proverbial man who leaves his house in flames to pursue a rat fleeing from it? What then can be done to solve this puzzle? Both camps would acknowledge that the issue at stake isn’t unique in the history of Zimbabwean politics for Ncube and Mutambara’s tug of war provides the most recent case law from which lessons can be drawn.

Since each side appears to give the false impression that Jacob Mudenda’s decision was victory on their side, one wonders what their next step is as they navigate the thorny terrain ahead.

The Tsvangirai camp through Luke Tamborinyoka so far gave the clearest hint that they would proceed with recalling Biti and the other MPs on his faction from parliament since Mudenda’s response is interpreted as a green light on their side with the Biti camp preferring to take a back seat waiting to respond to the enemy’s offensive.

Proceeding to recall the renegade MPs by the Tsvangirai camp appears naïve and misinformed as the decision is based on the flawed premise that Mudenda is an honest broker in the whole affair and that there is respect for the constitution by the speaker of parliament, yet the reverse is true.

Mudenda will not entertain this move in spite of the ample evidence to justify it since the MDC debacle is music to him although he prefers to give the opposite impression in public.

The Tsvangirai camp can’t afford to be humiliated when the speaker of parliament pours mud in their face if ever they attempt to recall the renegade MPs for, how can Mudenda contradict Mugabe’s directive who happens to be sucked in the whole saga?

The best the Tsvangirai camp can do is to secure their assets and wait for time as Biti’s camp can’t wait to form their own party with a different name and brand. The tussle for the party’s name is only a strategic manoeuvre by Biti to serve a particular objective whose life span is short lived.

Didn’t Biti hint on that in the past and only to reply that he has an unfinished business to accomplish before forming his own party? Given this scenario, what is the wisdom of fishing in a crocodile infested river unless otherwise one plans to commit suicide?

At this juncture, time is the best healer as evidenced by the Ncube- Mutambara pitched fight that died a natural death. Let Biti form his own party and that is the right moment for the Tsvangirai camp to pounce for the kill by approaching Mudenda and as the situation stands; the former can’t wait any longer to have his own brand.

Unless Biti takes the offensive and calls the first shot, there isn’t any point in seeking redress in the courts as advised by Mudenda in spite of the strength of the case at hand as there are crocodiles tangled in the drag net waiting to pounce and they are hungry indeed. That is the way it is and he who blinks first risks losing the fight!

William Muchayi is a pro-democracy and political analyst who can be contacted on wmuchayi@gmail.com