MDC squabbles risk derailing the democratic struggle

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EVEN if ZANU PF transformed itself into a truly democratic party, running a responsive and efficient government based on principles of good governance, and anchored in the rule of law; even if they transformed our economy, creating jobs in the process and restoring our prosperity, we would still need a strong and vibrant opposition.
That is how democracy is sustained around the world. A strong opposition is not needed only when there is a failed and unpopular government. A strong opposition is an alternative government, a government-in-waiting that sets the bar for the incumbent administration.
There are those who have argued that, given the squabbles that characterise the main opposition party in the face of a seemingly transformed ZANU PF, there is probably no need to worry about the opposition any more. It is time to rally behind the ruling party. People may be forgiven for thinking that way. There is now political fatigue in our country. So much hope has been raised in the past and, for various reasons, it all faded into thin air at some point.
The current drama unfolding in the MDC-T could be seen as the derailment of the democratic struggle, considering that MDC is supposed to be the nucleus of an effective coalition. Morgan Tsvangirai had been the face of the struggle since 1999. He played his part; he deserves our respect and a place of honour in our history. However, the fact of the matter is that leaders come and go while the cause they fight for remains.
Strong institutions are built around values and principles, not around individuals and personalities. The MDC, if founded on values, must be able to survive and function with or without Tsvangirai in the driver’s seat. It is now time for new, young, vibrant and visionary leadership that demonstrates its commitment to serving the people.
Curiously, it appears that the MDC-T as a party has never given serious consideration to a future beyond their founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai. There are those in the MDC who hold onto the same fantasy as those in ZANU PF who seriously believed that Robert Mugabe would live or rule forever, even from the grave. That is silly and against the dictates of nature and common sense.
When the MDC wrote their constitution, did they not include provisions that would address leadership change? Assuming that there is now a vacancy in the presidency of the MDC, what does the constitution say about filling that vacancy? And how does the vacancy come about? We have men and women in the MDC who literally wrote our new national constitution. Surely, they must find it a lot easier to interpret and apply their party’s constitution and observe its provisions than write a national constitution.Advertisement

While I have respectfully disagreed with Dr Thokozani Khupe in the past, given her discomfort with the coalition, I totally agree with her when she calls for adherence to constitutionalism. When Morgan Tsvangirai unilaterally appointed two additional Vice Presidents in 2016, he undoubtedly violated his party’s own constitution. MDC must press the reset button and return to constitutional order. Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri have been pitted against each other in the past. Their vicious antagonism must come to an end.
If MDC-T is now at the stage where they have to have a new leader, the best option – and the most democratic one – is to go to elective Congress and put the matter to rest once and for all. Surely it must be clear to them that time is fast running out. In New Zealand last year, the opposition Labour Party elected a new 37-year-old leader who went on to win an election and become Prime Minister just 7 weeks later. While such a feat is possible, it is an exception not the rule.
The MDC is running out of time. The splits of 2005 and 2013 are still fresh in people’s minds. While Tsvangirai survived both, in 2018, if any split were to happen, it would probably be the end of the MDC. That must be avoided at all costs. Zimbabweans have been in limbo for a very long time. They now need to get on with their lives. They cannot continue to be subjected to those who seem to enjoy playing political games. They need relief and, if they can get it from the reformed ZANU PF, that is exactly where they will go.
In any case, the democratic fight is not about replacing ZANU PF with the MDC. Rather, it is about putting in place a truly democratic dispensation in our country that brings freedom, equality and prosperity. Whoever delivers that will prevail.
When the MDC went into the GNU, one of their arguments was that they used Solomon-like wisdom to make that difficult choice. They did not want the country to collapse. Why are those who used biblical wisdom to get into bed with ZANU PF, now not applying their self-proclaimed wisdom to resolve their internal differences?
Their public squabbles must be resolved as a matter of urgency so that people can focus on the next election without unnecessary distraction. Our struggle is not about self-aggrandisement. Rather, it is about creating a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe.
Moses Chamboko is an unwavering pro-democracy activist and Secretary General of ZUNDE. He can be contacted at