SUPPORTERS of the MDC have waited for too long to enter the Promised Land which tantalizingly and paradoxically appears so close and yet so far.
Some of them stoically suffered harassment, torture, and even death at the hands of their political opponents, but were sustained by the hope that one day their sacrifices would be rewarded. Now that President Mugabe has insisted that elections will be held in 2013, most MDC supporters expect to dance kongonya on the political grave of Zanu PF.
However, that desire will remain wishful thinking unless Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube prove to be the political giants that they claim to be, by transcending their mutual hatred for each other and go to the polls as a united front.
There are many reasons why a divided MDC cannot win the forthcoming elections, one being that the two MDC formations are going to divide opposition vote, thereby unwarrantedly giving Zanu PF another bunch of keys to State House.
Unity between the two MDC factions is possible because history repeats itself, and history books are full of such coalitions that became success stories. Tsvangirai and Ncube must know that in politics there are no permanent enemies, but permanent national interests.
What people want right now is change of government, and the only political party that can translate that dream into reality - at least for now - is a united MDC. But an MDC government in Zimbabwe will always be elusive as long as there is disunity between the two MDC formations.
They should take a leaf from President Robert Mugabe; a seasoned, shrewd, calculating, and cunning politician. The fact that he, at 88 years of age, going on to 89, still has no challenger in Zanu PF proves his political prowess beyond any reasonable doubt. More so, the history of his political career bears witness to his political ingenuity. He spent eleven years in jail, but had the guts to reconcile with his jailers at independence.
He lost nothing in forgiving. As if that was not enough demonstration of his political intelligence and generosity, in 1987, he reconciled with Joshua Nkomo and surprisingly bestowed upon him, the prestigious title, “Father Zimbabwe.” I’m not saying that Nkomo did not deserve the title; he did, in fact, more than anyone else, but knowing Mugabe as I do, and the fact that a family can only have one father; the president deserves credit for granting that.
We all wonder what title he himself will get when the time for him to meet his ancestors sadly arrives. (I neither wish for his death nor suggesting that Zanu PF runs short of titles for its heroes). Last but not least, in 2009, Mugabe reconciled with Tsvangirai, and allowed him to become Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, not a mean achievement for Tsvangirai.
Yes, circumstances forced Mugabe to do that, but at least, he had the audacity to be a student of the sign of the times. It takes an intelligent man to be able to read the sign of the times accurately and then act accordingly. The GNU restored Mugabe’s respect, credibility, authority, and gave him political longevity.
In 2009, with the introduction of the multicurrency system, Zanu PF could have opted to go it alone and would have survived. Remember, it was Patrick Chinamasa, the then Acting Finance Minister, not Minister Tendai Biti, who in January 2009, introduced the multicurrency system. In fact, if President Mugabe had given heed to the clarion call to dollarize, by the then politically relevant Simba Makoni, a few years before Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown, the GNU would never have become a necessity.
More so, in 2009, President Mugabe could have stubbornly refused to form a GNU, and both the international community and MDC could have done nothing about it. Now Zanu PF knows that the GNU was a big mistake, and will never have another one if there were to be another disputed election.
In politics, reconciliation is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of political maturity and prowess. Ncube and Tsvangirai must know that both Mugabe and Nkomo accepted their 1987 marriage of convenience, not because they were less intelligent or less popular; but because they both had the interests of the nation at heart.
If Tsvangirai accepted to sup with Mugabe, then it defies all reason that he cannot sup with Ncube, even if it means using a long spoon. They started the journey together, why not finish it together? Ncube and Tsvangirai should also remember that failure to reconcile is a sign of political immaturity on both parties, but politics is not a prolific game for the immature, but for the giants of Mugabe’s caliber. I am not a worshipper of Mugabe, but I am just stating a fact.
PM Tsvangirai and Minister Ncube should be reminded, constantly and sternly, that they are not the real MDC, but the people, who have unwaveringly stood by them since 2000 are, and these people deserve to be listened to. If the people want the two MDC factions to go for elections as a united front, neither Ncube nor Tsvangirai should sacrifice that desire for his political expediency, selfishness, and myopic personal vendettas.
In fact, the two are not indispensable members of the MDC. Either of them has only one vote. Even if they were indispensable, the duo must remember that the political dust bins and graves of this world are full of indispensable politicians who failed to shape up.
Tsvangirai and Ncube should also be reminded that the people vote for them so that baba Mugabe can go for retirement, a benefit which he absolutely deserves as the father of the nation, but has been disrespectfully, unceremoniously, and on numerous occasions, denied him, by people who want to continue to benefit from the effects of his old age.
The people don’t vote for Tsvangirai so that he can be a mere ceremonial Prime Minister in the good-for-nothing GNU; a political animal which only benefitted politicians. People vote for Tsvangirai so that he becomes the President of a democratic Zimbabwe, and then effect the changes that will bring about the renaissance of our besieged and looted economy, and the transformation of the people’s lives.
If both Tsvangirai and Ncube continue to demonize each other the way they are doing now, that will be the end of their road to State House. They must remember that after next year’s elections there won’t be another GNU. Other political parties will emerge, probably equally or even more popular. The MDC will be committed to the dust bins of political history just like what happened to both ZUD and ZUM.
Tsvangirai and Ncube should not continue to play the blame game. People are not interested in knowing who refused to do what; they want unity, a new government, and independence from Zanu PF. Some people have sacrificed their lives to bring both Ncube and Tsvangirai to where they are now.
These people, some of whom were asked to choose between “short sleeves or long sleeves,” want to see change. Political egos of the leaders should not commit these sacrifices to nothing. Both Tsvangirai and Ncube should know that, it’s 2013, or never. The blood of the people which was spilt during the liberation struggle and the 2008 presidential run-off, so that democracy could come to Zimbabwe, should not be taken for granted.
No one should be asked for a vote that will be wasted. The only way not to waste people’s votes is the unity way. Tsvangirai and Ncube, you either shape up or ship out.
John Chitakure is a practical theologian based in Texas, USA. He writes in his personal capacity and can be reached at email@example.com.