By Maxwell Sibanda
The MDC’s youth and women’s assemblies should not behave like leagues of the “old” Zanu PF who, against all logic, wanted former President Robert Mugabe to remain party candidate for this year’s election despite his advanced age and ill health.
I was surprised at the MDC’s wings’ recent reactions to Morgan Tsvangirai’s intimation at retirement to pave way for a younger leader for the party.
The wings, aided by some senior MDC members were angered by Tsvagirai’s announcement, saying they wouldn’t allow him to step down regardless of the fact that he is battling ill health, hence cannot manage to run the full race when it comes to rigorous campaigning ahead of this year’s harmonised elections.
I would have thought that Tsvangirai, in hinting that he would pass on the baton, was doing it in the interest of the party, for continuity and a smooth succession process.
The MDC structures and some of its members could also have misread Tsvangirai’s intention in announcing this because I believe it was meant to be a soft landing in which he was preparing his party for this imminent eventuality.
And just like in the “old” Zanu PF, these people advocating for Tsvangirai to stay put know deep in the hearts that it is the right thing for him to step down and have enough time to recuperate.
In the “old” Zanu PF, when the issue of Mugabe retiring and passing the baton was raised, the women and youth leagues were so furious and insisted that the former president would rule forever, regardless of his health and age.
It is interesting to note that while these Zanu PF wings defended Mugabe’s continued rule, they were the first ones who after his dethronement were cheering and saying he should have gone long back. They agreed that Mugabe needed some rest.
Apart from the two wings, there were also several high profile Zanu PF politicians who did not want Mugabe to go regardless. We saw these also celebrating after his demise.
Come 2018, we are having the same scenario playing out in the MDC politics were guns are blazing as some factions in the MDC are adamant that Tsvangirai is going nowhere and will stand as their presidential candidate this year.
Just like the former first lady’s famous salvo they would rather have the MDC leader voted and have him rule even if it meant his supporters pushing him around in a wheelbarrow!
It seems there are high-ranking officials at the MDC who want to hold Tsvangirai hostage for their selfish needs; they know if Tsvangirai steps down then they will lose out.
They would rather, like what the G40 used to do with Mugabe, keep an ailing Tsvangirai than surrender power to someone else.
That Tsvangirai is a popular brand among its members and the generality of Zimbabweans is not a secret at all. That Tsvangirai is the only one who defeated Mugabe at an election is also not under dispute.
But the man has said it himself because he, his family and doctors are the only ones who know his health status.
Why then should the MDC force a man to stay at the helm of the party when he feels he has done enough and wants to rest so as to recover? Why punish Tsvangirai?
The MDC president has not said he is leaving the party altogether and even if he steps down, he will remain an elder and the party’s founding president.
Tsvangirai has run his race and Zimbabweans must thank him for being the opposition leader to stand against Mugabe at a time opposition politics was taboo and dangerous.
During the Government of National Unity, Tsvangirai as Prime Minister played a sterling role in stabilising the country.
I am sorry to say it is a pity that MDC is not Zanu PF where the army will have to come in and solve the party succession issue.
However, MDC is a people’s party and the people will have to come in and organise their party before factionalism tears the party apart. DailyNews