COLUMN: MARY REVESAI
Makoni must come clean on crucial credentials
The signs that this
would be the most likely scenario were there for all to see. The opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was, as usual at such crucial junctures,
in disarray with the two factions failing to re-unite after bickering
over the selection of candidates and allocation of “safe seats”.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) which identified some of these abuses reported that in some rural areas, peasants who allocated agricultural implements and inputs were already being threatened with dire consequences if the ruling party lost after they had benefited so much from government largesse.
And as happens in the build-up to all elections, traditional chiefs who had recently been inundated with vehicles and other benefits were already declaring their areas to be off limits for the MDC.
Amid these imponderables
and more, enter Makoni. It seemed almost too good to be true but battle
weary Zimbabweans were ready to clutch at any straws and at first Makoni’s
move seemed to give a ray of hope that change could at last be possible.
Then Makoni seemed to dampen hopes by insisting he was still loyal to
the ruling party. Although it was announced that Makoni had been expelled
from Zanu PF and he has been cannon fodder in the state media since
his announcement, doubts about what he represents are growing by the
Where are the “great many” like-minded people in the ruling party who were supposed to stand with Makoni? Knowing the kind of rival he is up against, Makoni and his group should know that it is best to strike while the iron is hot. Last week’s announcement would have had more credence if all those said to be standing with former Finance Minister had openly declared their intentions on that day or had done so since then.
In the absence of any further developments to maintain the momentum of Makoni’s announcement, speculation of all kinds is creeping in and taking hold. One version is that although Makoni initially had the backing of some influential members of President Mugabe’s government, these have subsequently been called to the carpet by the foxy old man and asked individually to say where they stand.
Even without believing
Margaret Dongo’s observation that most people in Zanu PF are “Mugabe’s
wives”, it is difficult to imagine that many of these people would
stand their ground once put on the spot by their benefactor and dispenser
The subsequent lack of momentum and clarity after Makoni’s seemingly bold move has given rise to suggestions that he too buckled under pressure and threats when he came face to face with the Dear Leader and agreed to be a decoy to split the MDC urban vote in return for appointment to a high position after the elections.
These rumours may
seem unfounded and untrue, but in the absence of convincing explanations
and rebuttals in the face of scepticism sparked by the apparent lack
of consolidation of Makoni’s position, with just over a month
to go before the elections, ordinary people cannot decide what to make
of the aspiring president.
I refer here to
the Tsholotsho group under Emmerson Mnangagwa that had won the support
of a majority of provinces for Mnangagwa to succeed the late Simon Muzenda
as vice president. He would then have only been a breath away from the
top job. Mugabe was prepared to use Mujuru and subsequently Mnangagwa
himself when Mujuru lost favour for aspiring to ascend to the presidency
of Zimbabwe. With political survival his only concern, nothing is impossible
with Zimbabwe’s ruler of the last 28 years.
What Makoni needs to do to keep the goodwill that he initially won among the masses because of his courageous move is to come clean about who his allies in Zanu PF are and how his initiative proposes to proceed. His supposed allies must be prepared to stand up and be counted.
Makoni has not explained publicly why after seeing the light, he needs to maintain ties with the discredited and unpopular Zanu PF whose repressive policies have robbed ordinary people of their freedoms and entitlement to economic prosperity and security.
He has not explained why the party that has brought the country to its knees and pauperized the masses deserves his continuing loyalty and allegiance.
Both leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, have said they do not believe there can such a thing as a reformed wing of a party that has caused such destruction and misery across the board.
Makoni must respond to questions being raised about his candidature splitting the opposition vote and defeating the objective of dislodging Mugabe. The longer he remains cagey on these crucial matters, the more he is likely to lose and be seen as a spoiler. He cannot have it both ways: breaking ranks with the ruling party and yearning to remain part of it.
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare
All material copyright newzimbabwe.com
Material may be published or reproduced in any form with appropriate credit to this website