Home » Governance » The House That Morgan Built [opinion]

WHEN I was growing up, I recall very distinctly the day I came across a very interesting piece of writing in one of the few English textbooks we had.

It was a story written like a poem, or a poem written like a story my teacher was never sure, thus adding to the mystique.

It started with a picture and one sentence, the sentence merely said, “this is the house that Jack built.”

The next line, under a picture of a sack of maize-meal, said something like, “this is the meal, that lay in the house that Jack built.”

The story builds up, one picture at a time, but with each picture the number of sentences increases through packets of meal, rats that ate the meal, dogs that chase some cats, farmers that marry some women, until finally it is a long line of events, people and things, all stemming from the house that Jack built.

Oddly, lately I find myself thinking of this story quite a lot when each time there is something new about the MDC, with my thoughts saying, “this is the house that Morgan built”.

A house of suspensions to counter other suspensions, where the suspender gets suspended before he rounds up his fellow suspended comrades so that they might in turn suspend those that dared to suspend them.

Doing your head in?

Well, spare a thought for the judge that finally gets to resolve this mess.

The winner is MDC-T, the loser is, eeeh, MDC-T!

Whichever side wins will temporarily forget that the judge is a “Mugabe appointee” (their usual line), while the losing side will somehow find the ‘sinister hand’ of Zanu-PF and the CIO in this fiasco.

All stemming from the house that Morgan built.

A man who gets suspended from the party that he has led in 15 unsuccessful years, five years after the date when he should have left from when they launched the party in 1999 and claimed that theirs would be different because it would have term limits.

Ten years and you are out, because we do not want people clinging to power, they claimed.

In retaliation, he suspends the lawyer that helped him kick out the first lawyer to suggest the sanctity of those term limits.

It used to be the case that the MDC had too many lawyers, but when one looks at the careers of Gwisai, Jongwe, Welshman and now Biti, one must say that the MDC is a curse for lawyers!

Realising from the start that they would never be able to win an election against a popular President, the MDC came up with this novel idea of term limits.

If we cannot vote Mugabe out, why not limit his ability to run so that an easier opponent might come along, they reasoned.

Of course, they quickly ran into their own trap and one split and creative legal dissembling later, Morgan remains, 15 years on the perch and still claiming to be a change agent. Just not change within the MDC, mind you.

So instead of leaving with whatever grace one can muster after losing all elections since 1999, Morgan faces another split in his movement, wide eyes already cast for a scapegoat.

The minions have already been deployed. Suddenly, Mangoma and Biti are Zanu-PF agents. Drama in Dreamland! Or should that be Drama in the House that Morgan built?

The only change that the MDC wants is the type that gets them into power. Not for the people, not for the country, their track record during the days of the inclusive Government put paid to those claims.

MDC has shown to all and sundry that they have no agenda, no plan beyond a naked desire for power for the 15 or so people around Morgan.

Yes, they are opposed to President Mugabe, they have made that clear.

But, sadly, being against President Mugabe is not an agenda.

It is not policy. It is not an alternative.

And therein lies the root for this mess.

From 1999, the MDC has managed to lull a good number of people into the false belief that they stand for something, that this something was a far much better form of democracy than what we have.

The claim was that they were more principled than the other lot that had tried to remove Zanu-PF, better even than the government of the day.

Theirs, we were told, was an agenda for change, and change for the better.

Now, we see that that was all just a facade. A party that claims to stand for human rights and equality of all deploys its most vocal cheerleaders to mock Elton Mangoma’s disability as if it were some self-inflicted decoration.

Thanks to decorum on the part of the ZBC, some of us never even knew that Mangoma was disabled, because they never showed his disability, choosing instead to engage with the content of his character and views.

But it took Chamisa saying Mangoma should worry about representing ‘other disabled people in Parliament instead of writing letters to Morgan’ for us to say: hold the phone, other disabled people? Only then did we know.

So, a fact that has absolutely zero relevance to the merit or otherwise of Mangoma’s criticism of the dear leader (their new term for Morgan Tsvangirai) is elevated to a position where it is more important than any small merit that the issues raised ever could possess.

Which is much the same way that we are now being told that Biti is sero-positive, and that somehow this is somewhat relevant to whatever issues might be at hand. Interesting.

First, I do know that when I was at UZ, Gutu had already qualified as a lawyer, while Hwende and Chamisa had failed to get enough points to make it to that institution and were making noises at Harare Poly, and several now prominent MDC zealots were otherwise engaged in pursuits that did not include medical instruction or learning.

Not being elitist, but now one sees why it has always been a complaint of many that at the time that Gutu went to the UZ, the points total needed was unacceptably low!

Even Job Sikhala, that well known champion of bombast, recently brought into the fold by Morgan Tsvangirai, deploys his criticisms of the so-called “renewal” team (I say you cannot renew a dead donkey, but that is only me) in measured terms that do not degenerate into the inane: there is a reason for that I say of my brother than made it to UZ the same year that Chamisa and Hwende tried and failed. Quite how Gutu, Chamisa and Hwende as well as their hangers-on have suddenly become qualified doctors capable of diagnosing HIV or cancer by sight and sight alone beats me.

Unless of course we are witnessing the reincarnation of a new religion, one with Nelson Chamisa as prophet, and Gutu and Hwende as his sons of a prophet: Chamisa is after all the man that revealed the divinely inspired fact that Morgan Tsvangirai was chosen by God himself!

Let us assume for argument’s sake that Biti is HIV positive (a fact that is questionable given Chamisa’s own calculations as will be shown below), but so what? The World Health Organisation estimates that about 13 percent of Zimbabwe’s adult population is HIV positive. That is close to 2 million adults, which is more than the number that Morgan ever got in any election. So, we have people that wish to gain political power, in order that they might run our country, but who think that 13 percent of the population deserves nothing but ridicule and insult. Do we, as a nation, want to be led by people that think that it is okay to laugh at those that are physically disabled and dismiss as outcasts those infected with a serious illness? To live in a country where only the physically pure are deserving of recognition? To be led by religious zealots who think that only they are worthy because they were anointed by God?

While they fight over the carcass of the MDC, all pretense at objectivity is thrown away. Ask any voter in any of the places where they won Parliamentary seats to tell you what this fight is about and see what you get. It is not about rebuilding the roads in Mkoba or stopping the decay of businesses in Gweru Urban thanks to the MDC inspired sanctions. It is not about installing public street lighting in Harare to combat crime. There is no policy in their shout for ‘renewal’ to rejuvenate manufacturing, merely the replacing of deadwood with differently aged deadwood. No one claiming to speak for Morgan Tsvangirai brings up any policy abilities that make his preservation in situ necessary. Instead, we are forever told that the man has grassroots support, a ‘fact’ whose lie is as palpable as it is stupid: only those drunk in self-delusion will allow themselves to say that a man who has consistently lost every election that he has taken part in over the last 15 years has ‘grassroots support’.

On the other hand, the so called ‘renewal’ team appears to suffer from the same malady. Having seen that ‘Mugabe must go at all costs’ is not an ideology, they have stumbled on a better alternative: ‘Morgan must go at all costs’. So, to sum up the situation, one can quite legitimately say that the two MDC-Ts are political parties in Zimbabwe whose agenda and ideology is the same: “So and So must go at all costs”, with Mugabe and Morgan being ‘so and so’ depending on which MDC-T you choose.

Gone too is the lie that the MDC project is anything but a vehicle for the promotion of personal interests. Ask a member of parliament elected on the MDC ticket who they stand with and you will hear either ‘Morgan’ or ‘Biti’. Not the people that elected them no, the voters do not matter until late 2017, when their services will once again be required. Unless you are from a constituency that will soon become vacant depending on which faction loses this free entertainment that they have started, because by-elections will be coming to a town near you. Spare a thought for the poor people in those constituencies, the election will not be pretty, what with two candidates claiming to be the real MDC-T in each one. This, after all, is the house that Morgan built, a house of confusion and chaos.

What a sad legacy to built for oneself! Yet so very predictable.

So now we are left with one protagonist so hellbent on removing everyone and everything from the party that he might just suspend everyone except himself in order to clear his own pathway to power, and another publicly claiming that Morgan was anointed (by God, no less), while privately briefing all that care to listen that he wants “to make sure that the old man loses one more time so that I can take over because otherwise if I take over now the elections will be called before I turn 40!” Biti being next in line complicates that plan, so he must go. And you have to ask, what hubris is that? Except, the denizens shouting “renewal” at Mandel Training Centre or “Tsvangirai ndizvo” outside Harvest House do not see that they are being used by both Biti and Chamisa.

Chamisa needs a pathway to power, and that requires Morgan to do what he does best one more time: lose another election. And therein too is that “Biti has HIV” line shown to be a lie. If Chamisa truly believed that Biti had HIV, why is he telling people that he cannot wait for Tsvangirai to win in 2018 and stay till 2028, then for Biti to take over in 2028 and stay until 2038? Surely he cannot be suggesting that if Biti is terminally ill, he will be around in 2038? Or has God again told him something?

In any event, is it not a touch presumptuous to assume that the good people of Zimbabwe will be voting for an MDC president from 2023 until 2048?

It is a sign of Tsvangirai’s utter naiveteacute that he does not see that he is being used in the battle to control the MDC being fought by his most ambitious and power hungry lieutenant on the one side against his slightly more able but politically inept former Finance Minister on the other. This of course is the house that Morgan built. If I was to develop that poemstory, I would bet that my second picture would be that of Nelson Chamisa or Tendai Biti, playing a fiddle or pulling some puppeteer strings, with the line, “and this is the cancer, that lay in the house that Morgan built”.

Like Nero, Tsvangirai goes around addressing rally after rally, telling his increasingly dwindling crowds that ‘we can’t wait for 2018’ and ‘we need another coalition’. Someone tell this man he lost, will you? Of course you can wait until 2018. To lose again. Of course we know what these rallies are about: nothing to do with the people being called and attending for the one purpose of getting a free T-shirt: they are meant to show Biti and Co that he has, you guessed it, “grassroots support”. The people of Zimbabwe have nothing to thank Tsvangirai for apart from the sanctions that have done their best to cripple our economy. And the free red T-shirts that bring people to his rallies.

This circus will likely run a long time, and he that can predict the outcome will probably rival Makandiwa, Magaya or Angel in the prophecy stakes. But one thing is certain: the MDC will, true to form, lose the next election. Not because of all the new reasons that they will manufacture, but because while they tear each other apart, the people see their government trying to extricate the country from the yoke of MDC inspired sanctions. People have long memories, and they are not stupid. A fact that the MDC might do well to learn as the house that Morgan built crumbles.

And it is not hard to see why the MDC is imploding: “Mugabe is 89” with a little red card was never going to be a long term ideology. Going around issuing red cards to the air like some mad football referee is funny to watch the first time, tiresome after a few days and downright stupid over the long term. Those gimmicks might make for a good afternoon of fun in the park, might even earn a few laughs in a World Cup year, but they do not translate well when purveyed as national policy. The MDC project crumbles because it was always built on a sandy foundation: the removal of a true patriot who fought for independence so that he be replaced by a coward that chose to serve the very same white masters we were fighting was never going to happen. So myopic was the whole thing that even the people involved soon tired of the charade and went back to what they really intended from the start: lining their own pockets and positioning themselves for the chance to lead the gravy train of opposition and milk its Western donor funds trough until even the donors tired of paying for a regime change agenda that never looked like it might happen.

Source : The Herald