MDC-T: Time for leadership change is now

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THE article by one Makusha Mugabe, a purported response to a note to the MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, by the MDC deputy treasurer, Elton Mangoma can be lauded for being the first to take the debate to the issues raised rather than issues of process and procedure as many have confined their analysis. Mugabe however misses the bigger picture by a very wide margin. Reading through his response, one is struck by the predisposition to sideline reason and to follow his emotions instead.
Many people have responded to the letter, either on Facebook as did Charlton Hwende, Obert Gutu and others, through intimidating some rented crowds as was the case with Nelson Chamisa and Femai, while some preferred to put pen to paper as has been the case with Makusha Mugabe, Claire Matombo, Vincent Museve, Luke Tamborinyoka and Tino Chinyoka among many others.
Inopportunely, there has been a dearth on debate on the real issues raised, particularly on the question of leadership and the five questions posed by Elton Mangoma. Instead, there has been a concentration on the efficacy of the letter to the MDC president, with overzealous fanatical supporters getting angry on behalf of Morgan Tsvangirai.
To this extent, Makusha must be exalted for refraining from what these fanatics and some MDC senior leaders had resorted to doing, chiefly: name-calling, threats of violence, expulsion and smear campaigning through some unsuspecting newspapers and gullible reporters. However, Makusha fails to achieve his objective as he ends up supporting Mangoma’s position as contained in the letter.
For instance, Makusha rightfully notes that “structures have been calling for the leadership, including him, to carry out a structure-wide post-mortem of the election, to reveal exactly what went wrong, map the way forward and re-mobilised members”. Appallingly, since July 31, 2013, that has not been done, nor has there been articulation of a vision, strategy or program of action by the party to give hope to party members and supporters. This clearly gives credence to the view that the MDC is in deep leadership crisis and paralysis.
Now that no proper post-mortem has been carried out and no way forward has been mapped, Makusha should agree with Mangoma that the “aftermath of the election has been a state of confusion, consternation and apprehension on the part of the movement”. Makusha also makes the same point as Mangoma to the effect that that “the party is grieving from a crisis of leadership legitimacy, crisis of expectation and above all a crisis of confidence, externally and internally”.Advertisement

Is Makusha not worried that  “branches, districts and provinces where some leaders have long since stopped existing, died, abandoned, got tired or simply became ineffective”, evidence that the party is in crisis?
The central message in Mangoma’s letter and his proposals for going forward cannot be divorced from Makusha’s point that there is “need for renewal in all these structures to bring up leaders who will then work to strengthen the party again and deliver for us a national leadership that will take us to the next election”. Mangoma has a similar view and suggests that “the president could declare his intention to step aside necessitating for the conducting of an extra-ordinary congress”, as one of the options available to him. Such a process would certainly start from the branches going up to the national leadership, including the position of the party president.
There is absolutely no cause why Makusha should try and convince Zimbabweans and whosoever wishes to read his response to Mangoma’s letter that the letter was written by more than one person. Elton Mangoma signed the letter himself and indicated in interviews that he wrote the letter and stands by the contents therein. There is no merit in seeking to convince that a dozen people drafted that letter. What is important is that the issues raised have merit and need to be addressed for the MDC to win the next election, in 2018. Further, Makusha agrees with Mangoma that the “process (leadership renewal) is already behind schedule and is screaming for leadership from the national leadership, in this case the organizing department’s leadership”.
Makusha misses the point of Mangoma’s letter by personalizing the renewal debate and narrowing the same to the replacement of Morgan Tsvangirai. The central concern for Mangoma is “restoring the credibility of the party lest it risks being confined to history” given that the “the MDC needs resurgence underwritten by a strong cohesive party leadership, reviewed adaptive party policies and reinvigorated connection with the base and the broad alliance”. In Mangoma’s view, this will achieve two important goals; one – acquiring State power following an electoral win in the next election, and two, governing democratically and bringing about real transformation in Zimbabwe.
In my view, Makusha must be forgiven as he writes from far away in the United Kingdom and does not seem to have a full appreciation of what internal factors contributed to the “loss.”  Makusha needs to be educated that the MDC primary elections were marred with the same irregularities that plagued the general elections themselves. While resources may not have been enough as Makusha highlights, scholars who relied on empirical evidence gathered during the electioneering period concluded otherwise.
Firstly, it may be advisable for him to visit literature so as to make more informed conclusions away from emotions as seems to be the current situation. Secondly, it may be more reliable for him to refrain from unsubstantiated claims and accusations, name-calling and focus on positively contributing towards genuinely rebuilding the MDC in preparation for the next election, in the same spirit that Elton Mangoma gave advise to Morgan Tsvangirai in his letter.
Lastly, it is important for Makusha to realize that democracy is about participation, deliberation and free exchange of ideas. It is never about authority and fear. The MDC is a democratic party that abhors violence and cherishes people participation in decision making, at all levels. It seeks to win power through non-violent means, and that means it must be properly configured for this purpose. The current situation is untenable. The time for real change is NOW – leadership change is unavoidable as it is clearly overdue.