Rainbow coalition: Problems and opportunities

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MY interest in political matters dates back to the mid-1990s when I was just but a small, rural boy. Then, I didn’t know much but isolated aspects of our politics. However, I had acquired a considerable amount of socio-economic and political knowledge by the time the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was formed in September 1999.
Although I was politically quiescent, I started making contributions to the media in the year 2006 and have never looked back since then. It hasn’t, however, been an easy road. My admirers have always called me a calm, reserved and disciplined man and this has been the case wherever I have gone. Just yesterday, when introducing me to a new staff member, my director made reference to my being ‘gentle, calm, soft spoken and humble.’ She went further to say that I am someone who has achieved a lot but still don’t show it because of my humility. It was quite a humbling moment for me.
In political matters, however, such glories are rare. The language is harsh and the game rough. You are called all sorts of names and it is only when one develops a thick skin, physically and psychologically, that they will be able to overcome the challenges associated with politics. I never chose politics for me to be praised. I may have my social and political goals and ambitions but these have never been about fame but service to humanity. I am a firm believer in social consciousness and social responsibility. I maintain that there is, as it were, an incumbent and imperative need to create a broader base of knowledgeable and skilled citizenry. We need to continue bringing about discussions of social and political issues to help define action alternatives which in turn, hopefully result in informed political and social action.
I am and will always be in dire need of opportunity and assistance in revitalising my drive towards others in a common cause and in converting self-seeking into social contribution. The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr observes in his sermon entitled ‘The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life’ that “… man has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of his own individual concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
We have a dangerous group of social and political leaders in present-day Zimbabwe. I do believe that young Africans throughout the continent share the same viewpoint. The said leaders might have developed their inner powers and they may also be doing their jobs well but still lack one thing: they live as if nobody else lives in the world but themselves. And they use everybody as mere tools to get to where they’re going. They don’t love anybody but themselves. And the only kind of love that they really have for other people is utilitarian love. They just love people that they can use.Advertisement

Dr. King has a special message for such people: “These people don’t work out well in life. They may go for a while, they may think they’re making it all right, but there is a law. They call it the law of gravitation in the physical universe, and it works, it’s final, it’s inexorable: whatever goes up can come down. You shall reap what you sow. God has structured the universe that way. And he who goes through life not concerned about others will be a subject, victim of this law.” Tendai Biti and his coup plotters are victims of this law and the same can be said of Welshman Ncube.
All I have been doing above was to lay the foundation for the main motif of this discussion. When one is an aspiring cadre for all seasons, and an aspiring professor, they tend to be philosophical and professorial in their presentations. I intend to proffer the thesis that it is possible that we can have in Zimbabwe a rainbow coalition that can oust Zanu PF from power. This, however, isn’t a stroll in the park. We need to work extremely hard to realise the opportunities that we have in order to democratise our defiled polity.
A rainbow coalition is generally understood to be a political group formed by different parties who agree to work together, especially one that includes one or more very small parties. A quintessence of such a coalition is the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) founded by Kenyan politicians Raila Odinga, Charity Ngilu, Mwai Kibaki and Michael Kijana Wamalwa in preparation of the 2002 elections. The National Alliance Party of Kenya allied itself with the Liberal Democratic Party to form the National Alliance of Rainbow Coalition. NARC won a landslide victory over Kenya African National Union (KANU). NARC presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki got 62% of the votes in the presidential elections against only 31% for the KANU candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta. KANU ruled Kenya for nearly 40 years after its independence from British colonial rule in 1963.
In Zimbabwe, Zanu PF has been in power since independence in 1980. It has become increasingly clear that a united front and not necessarily a merger of political parties may help us democratise our politics. When we have a united front, it is a lot easier for political parties to maintain their individual identities and not a situation in which another party is consumed and swallowed as happened to Dr. Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo’s PF ZAPU in 1987.
The main problem we have is a divided opposition. Calls for a united opposition have been repeatedly made and continue to be made by all concerned Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans are aware that unity, to a larger extent, can help us defeat Zanu PF. We failed to defeat Zanu PF in the 2008 harmonised elections because of our divided opposition. In those elections, Zanu PF lost its majority for the first time since 1980. It is sad that such a majority has since been regained, although via elections that were neither credible nor transparent. I am sure we have a lot to learn from other countries like South Africa, Ghana, and Zambia etc.
Calls for a united front, however, seem to fall on deaf ears. We have opposition leaders who are just worried about positions rather than bread and butter issues. The likes of Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti are politicians with a rotten mind whose goal is political position at the expense of the suffering and oppressed people of Zimbabwe. Although Biti has called for a ‘United Democratic Front’ against Zanu PF, he, unfortunately, has been able to attract only those politicians and/or leaders that aren’t even regarded by the electorate. Dumiso Dabengwa and Ncube won’t add any political value to Biti’s so-called renewal group. Any coalition that seeks to exclude other political and social leaders should be treated with the contempt it deserves.
To make matters worse, Biti et al accuse Morgan Tsvangirai of running the MDC as a personal fiefdom and also displaying dictatorial tendencies. Tsvangirai has vehemently denied these accusations and the people have considerable faith in him and have thus stood with him during these trials and tribulations that evidently point to an operation to disrupt the party and discredit it. It is a public secret that Tsvangirai has risen to the upper echelons of Zimbabwean politics by democratic processes. How come he has never been accused of acting like a dictator whilst the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)? Anybody who was present when the MDC was formed would know that it was a collective decision that Tsvangirai must lead the party. This collective decision was repeated in 2006 and 2011 respectively. The ructions we are therefore seeing in the party are attributable to hidden and treacherous forces.
A reasonable coalition against Zanu PF can only come from Tsvangirai, Lovemore Madhuku and Simba Makoni. Madhuku has since distanced himself from Biti’s coalition. He has argued that he won’t sit in meetings with treacherous people. Makoni on the other hand has also indicated that a coalition should include every leader. Sectarian politics as practiced by the likes of Biti and Ncube should be resisted with all of the power and all of the strength in our systems. The two aren’t worried about our daily struggles. They are successful lawyers whose primary business is making money. We need a leader who can easily relate to our daily toils and there is none other than Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai, Madhuku and Makoni make a formidable political coalition and efforts at forming a united front should pay serious attention to these three.
Conclusively, “several elements are mixed and put together in a certain scientific manner to erect a house. But the same elements, mixed and put in a different manner produce manure. If we want to build a house, a formula for a house is used, but if manure is desired, the formula for manure is used. If the formula for the latter is used to build a house, one gets manure” (Professor Masipula Sithole). In coming up with his not-so democratic united front, Biti seems to have used a formula for manure and that’s exactly what he has received. The struggle continues unabated!  
Mutsa Murenje is a practicing social worker in the Republic of South Africa. He is also the Movement for Democratic Change (SA) External Assembly Acting Secretary for Policy and Research