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Tafi Mhaka: On Douglas Mwonzora: Welshman Ncube is a failed struggle hero

By Tafi Mhaka

Stung by the intense squabbling provoked by Elias Mashavira’s legal action, Welshman Ncube has come alive from a comfortably enjoyable political slumber.

Tafi Mhaka is a Johannesburg-based writer and commentator. His debut novel, Mutserendende: The African in Us, is scheduled for release in 2020. Follow him on @tafimhaka / tafi.mhaka
Tafi Mhaka is a Johannesburg-based writer and commentator. His debut novel, Mutserendende: The African in Us, is scheduled for release in 2020. Follow him on @tafimhaka / tafi.mhaka

The MDC Alliance Vice-President has come out all guns blazing, boldly insisting the recent Supreme Court ruling confirming the nullification of Nelson Chamisa’s appointment as MDC-T president in February 2018 is of no consequence to Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party.

According to Ncube, the ruling matters only to “desperate charlatans”, a thinly veiled reference to Douglas Mwonzora and Morgen Komichi.

But while Ncube has dismissed the Supreme Court ruling as just academic, he has remained silent on Chamisa’s actual decision to wrestle the top post in MDC-T from Thokozani Khupe, merely one day after founding president Morgan Tsvangirai had died from complications arising from colon cancer in February 2018.

That Ncube is publicly infuriated by Mwonzora’s uncompromising devotion to following constitutional process but is not perturbed by Chamisa’s widely problematic ascent to the leadership of the MDC Alliance is immensely disturbing.

That Ncube considers the application of the rule of law, as subordinate to malleable and questionable political manoeuvring must be an even greater concern for enlightened progressives.

That Ncube labels the obligatory application of a routine constitutional norm, as a Zanu-PF project is certainly extremely worrying.

Indeed, with or without the exhausted expediency of forever flaunting Zanu-PF’s attempts to destabilise the “MDC”, how is it permissible for the latter to recklessly disregard simple constitutional dictates?

That’s the problem with Ncube’s flimsy arguments of late.

Why is a perfectly lawful response to a premeditated assault on the MDC-T constitution by Chamisa in 2018 labelled a complicated Zanu-PF project?

Ncube, troublingly, protrudes an air of undue entitlement and the scheming evocation of victimhood evident throughout his recent public musings is simply misdirected: the MDC Alliance can’t blame Zanu-PF for its democratic missteps.

In an interview with Zenzele Ndebele, Ncube described the adverse Supreme Court ruling as the workings of “Mwonzora’s alter ego”. Unwittingly, however, Ncube suggests the MDC Alliance is structurally weak and most open to manipulation by cunning Zanu-PF actors working in cahoots with one person.

Furthermore, Ncube ostensibly derides Mashavira’s right to demand democratic process from the MDC Alliance leadership as an assault on the party’s assumed right to disregard the rule of law for the supposed benefit of the people.

However, it is the staged projection that Ncube is “prepared to die in this fight against Zanu PF” that is a shamefully dodgy, mindboggling falsehood.

Amid a long, stifling economic depression, a collapsed health sector and a growing COVID-19 pandemic, why is Ncube suddenly prepared to pay the ultimate price to “dislodge Zanu-PF”?

Did he decide to die in the struggle just last week?

Also, as the contested threat of a disruptive parliamentary recall possibly looms, Ncube has asserted that nobody is moved by the “risk of losing seats”.

But who can forget that against Tsvangirai’s wishes, Ncube supported the divisive decision to contest a blemished senatorial election in 2005?

However, today, Ncube pretends that the MDC Alliance leadership’s greatest determination is to represent the people, not to enjoy the material benefits of sitting in parliament.

Still, when President Emmerson Mnangagwa flatly refused to implement electoral reforms in 2018, Ncube didn’t advocate an electoral boycott.

Instead, he stood by as the MDC Alliance participated in the election, and lost.

What’s more, when 6 people died, shot to death by ZNA soldiers on August 1, 2018, Ncube didn’t hold a 40-minute interview, professing he was prepared to die fighting Zanu-PF.

Presumably, finding no plausible reason to fight or die for the people, he just held back and sat silent.

Then, when the MDC Alliance lost an electoral appeal at the Constitutional Court, what did Ncube do?

Nothing: he watched as his “soldiers” took their place in parliament.

Ncube, undoubtedly, is barely motivated to fight for the people when it counts.

He prefers to reserve his considerable wrath for the “traitors” in his midst.

That is where, in his misjudged estimation, the real fight is to be found: in the allegedly conspiratorial displays of members who challenge the faltering status quo.

Yet a party leader who promotes the imaginary fight burning in his head, not the struggle raging in the streets, is a massive liability.

A party leader driven by the provisional immediacy of protecting a powerful position is definitely a profound liability to Zimbabwe’s progressive left. So is a misguided party leader who believes unsolicited bilateral talks will help remove Zanu-PF.

Like Chamisa, whose default position is to demand Mnangagwa engages in talks with the MDC Alliance, Ncube is operating under the delusion his “powerful” statements on Mwonzora might give Mnangagwa sleepless nights: but they won’t.

Zimbabwe will very soon mark two years since the disputed July 31, 2018 election was held. But, evidently, little has been done by the MDC Alliance towards compelling Mnangagwa to implement substantial political, media or electoral reforms.

Indeed, little suggests a tangible change is on the horizon.

While Ncube might have been entrenched in the frontlines, demanding substantial changes to government policies and demanding reforms, he hasn’t.

Ncube talks up change a great deal, but in reality he is a peddler of stillborn dreams and powerful individual stations. Among the MDC leadership, only Zengeza West MP Job Sikhala has actually attempted to spark a substantive people’s struggle to complement party policy positions and strategies.

No doubt Ncube is amenable to the current political dispensation remaining unchanged until 2023. That way, substantive matters to do with democracy can’t disrupt the failed people’s struggle that he proudly represents.

Tafi Mhaka is a Johannesburg-based writer and commentator. His debut novel, Mutserendende: The African in Us, will be published in 2020.

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