IT WAS always going to be as clear as the sky that a political party charged with fighting excesses that not only fails to deliver but also joins the feast would find itself deserted and alone, struggling for identity.
That is the news from Freedom House. Parties are born to associate and live by a cause. It is an oath by which among other things its standards, practices, wins, losses and history will be judged.
The MDC was born of a people's frustration with the policies of Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. Unemployment was on the rise. Corruption in public office was endemic. The gap between the rich and the poor, in particular ministers, senior civil servants, their families and the rest of the population was increasingly vulgar. Public health care delivery was suffering. There was increased intolerance for divergent views with the police increasingly tightening its grip on the activities of civil society.
This was the scenario in which the MDC was born. To remain relevant, the MDC needed to have clear strong policies waiting to be implemented in response to whatever grievances their constituencies had. This would need to be done as part of a national policy. Such policies, even as mere proposals, needed to be communicated to the people as part of the political focus and vision of the party.
The MDC lost appeal by failing to define its vision outside routine demands for Mugabe to go.
This of course is not the end game for the MDC, but Zanu PF has now gained ammunition by which it can claim that its victories are based on popular support not intimidation or violence.
The MDC slept at the wheel.
But few Zimbabweans desire for a situation in which any of the two main parties is completely annihilated, that we end up with a de facto dictatorship and no official opposition representation. Democracy is a game of checks and balances. It cannot be achieved unless there is a viable opposition. We need narrow electoral margins to protect democracy and to keep the politicians working. Short of that, we are left vulnerable.
It is encouraging to see that we are coming to the point where politics is beginning to be less based on slogans. Nothing can be taken for granted now. Each voter must be considered carefully and categorically according to their circumstances in shaping the policy of both party and nation.
It must be humiliating for the MDC to be suffering increasing rejection by local people whilst Tsvangirai is being honoured and decorated by foreigners. It cannot be a respectable thing. Tsvangirai should rather be loathed by foreigners and loved by locals not the absurdity and obscenity of the prevailing disclosure from Freedom House.
Politics has to be based on substance. The MDC lacks this very core ingredient. The party was born of disillusionment and disaffection – more like the guy who comes in to console the widow. His opportunity is created by something dark. He will soon need to start talking more about himself and less of the dead if he seeks pleasures beyond the present. A suitor who has nothing positive to say about himself and everything negative about his rivals will soon find he will struggle for audience.
Bitterness is not a policy. A policy is a view that sets out to identify how a problem can be avoided or solved or how past mistakes can be corrected. Without a vision, what good is any political party?
In everyday conversations, people find it difficult to state what exactly are the policies of the MDC. Whatever its policies, the MDC must state them so the electorate can judge what their true value is.
At the end of the day, what the electorate wants is very simple: namely an Independence that is total in its political and economic meaning. However long it will take, Zimbabwe will get both.