Home » Governance » No MDC, No Cry [opinion]

It is hard to believe Morgan Tsvangirai sees in his “no reforms, no election” campaign a real prospect of meaningful political change, especially in regards to election politics.

One would have thought the MDC and its leader would by now have at least realised the futility of boycott politics, at least after the 2005 internal impasse over senate elections, a sad chapter in the history of the party that resulted in the organisation’s first major split.

Firstly, the strategy of boycott politics itself does not really work in the context of Zimbabwean political culture, where ZANU-PF has never relied on endorsement of its success or victories by political opponents, a predicament largely emanating from the tenacious adherence to protest politics by the opposition.

ZANU-PF largely views the opposition as overexcited protesters with no national appeal or ideology, and often they dismiss the MDC-T as such.

MDC urged its supporters to boycott the distribution of land during the land reform programme, boycotted national events like Independence Day for a very long time, marched out of Parliament in protest on numerous occasions, and in futility tried to urge the nation to stay away from work “until the regime falls.”

Well, people lost out on land in the process, and shunning national events also dented the opposition’s image, just like the parliamentary march outs have largely been viewed as infantile.

It is hard to believe Morgan Tsvangirai sees in his “no reforms, no election” campaign a real prospect of meaningful political change, especially in regards to election politics.

ZANU-PF has been starved of Harare and Bulawayo victories for more than a decade, and the only message the party gets from the absence of MDC competition is “no MDC, no cry.”

There is no legitimacy question that arises from the vacuous decision to boycott the upcoming by-elections, not in the context that ZANU-PF already has a two-thirds majority Government in place anyway.

Of course, there are those who have chosen to participate in the by-elections from other opposition political parties, as well as many independents, including those in essence representing the MDC formations unofficially, like Busani Ncube and Getrude Sibanda running for the Tsholotsho seat.

The fact that the elections are an inter-party contest is not and cannot be diluted by the voluntary absence of some political players, regardless of the prominence of such people.

What is more worrying is the internal destructive effect of these ill-thought initiatives by the opposition.

Why should a boycott that gives away a seat to ZANU-PF make sense to an MDC supporter in Bulawayo, for example?

And why would a resurgent ZANU-PF not feel vindicated in saying that in fact the MDC is boycotting imminent defeat, and the rest of the argument about electoral reforms is just a sorry excuse for a scapegoat?

This is the message we are getting from Saviour Kasukuwere, is it not?

The legal arguments behind the case filed by the opposition in the High Court will be left for the court to decide, but we can obviously pursue the political arguments here.

In politics, political arguments supersede legal arguments most of the time, and the many cases the MDC has filed court cases in the past bear testimony to this.

But sometimes you can defeat a political argument using the courts, like what President Pierre Nkurunziza has done in Burundi, making sure that his interpretation of that country’s constitution is the legally endorsed one.

But behind the court victories of Nkurunziza lies massive popularity brought about by a very g political argument.

The man is simply a man of the people with massive support in the rural areas and within the Christian community and more than the High Court verdict he was armed with, this is mainly why he managed to foil a poorly executed coup attempt last week.

It is really hard to understand, let alone appreciate, the MDC-T political argument.

The party has preached the rather empty gospel of undefined change for some time now, and the people manning the key leadership of the MDC today are a pale shadow of the young and inexperienced lot of 1999-2000.

In terms of political clout, the likes of Obert Gutu, Theresa Makone and Douglas Mwonzora stand like peanuts next to a mountain when one recalls those days of the likes of Isaac Matongo, Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube and Learnmore Jongwe.

Put simply, the party is failing even to be static, slowly but surely sinking into oblivion.

ZANU-PF is probably at its worst in terms of being exposed to the opposition at the moment, what with these exciting cleansing ceremonies that have instead of weakening the party, stolen the limelight from the bemused opposition.

ZANU-PF can even afford the nonsense we have been reading about Harare East’s aspiring MPs.

There is no opposition to worry about.

Apart from complications over the muscle strengths of characters behind each of the two feuding candidates, the argument by Mavis Gumbo and her allies did not even rise to the level of nonsense.

You simply do not contest an election result by pretending to be the winner.

This is exactly what Gumbo did when she proceeded to file her nomination papers at the Electoral Court after losing the primary election to Terence Mukupe.

In essence ZANU-PF can afford to elevate its losers and dissenters to opposition levels, making up for the lack of national external political competition.

Politics is a game of relevance, and if the truth were to be told, a reticent, undecided or indecisive Joice Mujuru seems to carry more relevance than a gallivanting Tsvangirai who is vaingloriously preaching boycott politics at poorly attended rallies across the country.

MDC-T is aware of the crunch in donor funding, mainly a result of donor fatigue, itself largely attributable to the collective failures of the opposition, coupled with the personal shortcomings of Tsvangirai.

Canberra just announced a 70 percent reduction in aid to Africa in its budget for the 2015-16 financial year, and that must have sent significant tremors not only in the charity sector, but also in the civic and political sphere, including the Harvest House corridors.

The by-election boycott by the MDC formations has failed to attract any external attention, and will definitely mean next to nothing in international affairs.

Itai Dzamara’s sad predicament has attracted a lot more international attention than the entire body politic of the MDC at the moment, and even Tsvangirai has been trying to ride on the Dzamara tide.

It has been argued that the cherry-picking stance of grabbing some free seats emanating from the expulsion of former MDC MPs while shunning those that come with electoral contest is in fact an act of political cowardice, and the whole scenario smacks of a less than impressive joke on the part of the MDC formations.

The predictable trend is that many, if not most of the opposition supporters, see no point in participating in an election where the fate of the MDC is already sealed at 70 seats compared to ZANU-PF’s 197 — the painful reality of July 2013.

The few local government by-elections so far carried out in some parts of the country showed that ZANU-PF still attracted its supporters to the polls while the majority of the opposition supporters did not bother to vote.

Added to this is the fact that ZANU-PF seems to be attracting more of its traditional supporters back from temporary alliance with the opposition, especially those above the age of 40.

It is laughable to hear that Tsvangirai’s strategy to dislodge ZANU-PF is calling for the escalation of the economic suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. But the laughing ends with those that specialise in political strategic studies.

For patriots and moralists, Tsvangirai continues to be a huge insult to integrity and the decency of basic humanity.

If Tsvangirai seriously wants to show commitment to escalating suffering he is better off starting with vacating a Government mansion into homelessness or some lesser accommodation, and this has been the sentiment of many on social media.

Here is my problem with the narrowness of opposition politics in Zimbabwe. People who think with their ambitions, clans, tribes, and political affiliations are the problem to begin with.

Regurgitating the atrocity of Gukurahundi for the sole purpose of building a political career will not unnerve a seasoned party like ZANU-PF, and neither will the escalating of tribal politics, or the exaggeration of human rights abuses.

One cannot banish the spectre of political shallowness by invoking it, and that has been the bane of opposition politics in Zimbabwe.

If I as a writer would not write against someone on the basis of their race or political affiliation, then I become a miserable inmate in this despicable prison where every member is governed by pride of identity, political arrogance and patronage.

The same goes for a politician that does not see beyond power and political office, or a party member that does not see beyond the party leader.

MDC-T is incarcerated in this political prison where the only meaningful thing to do is to be seen to be protesting against a blundering ZANU-PF.

This prison is too primitive for some, and that is why some of the intellectuals like David Coltart, Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube and others have had issues making the grade in Tsvangirai’s political circles. Tendai Biti has shared very interesting descriptive superlatives for Tsvangirai, and he argues that for many years he was made to defend and protect “an idiot”.

Well, ZANU-PF might be the ideological outfit it portrays itself to be, but the party does have its own irredeemable tribalists and bigots, including some that are convinced that the opposition should be wiped off the map.

When a prominent character like Philip Chiyangwa believes that membership to ZANU-PF equates to impunity you know you have a problem.

There are others in ZANU-PF who carry themselves as godfathers of the electorate, with powers to override majority decisions in the name of “gwara remusangano,” and surely such behaviour cannot be allowed to go without criticism.

It is just as good that ZANU-PF has the MDC for an opposition, and for now the party can joyfully sing “No MDC, no cry.”

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.

Source : The Herald

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