I HOPE Elton Mangoma will accept my apologies and find strength in the kind words of solidarity from one comrade to another. I hope (Hon) Biti and others will wake up, redefine their mission and duty to this struggle, the context in which they shall continue to pursue the same and do the thinkable.
I have no doubt that Tsvangirai will do the usual thing and fight for his personal interests protected by the position he holds regardless of the needs, unity and future of that party. I hope Tsvangirai will remain at the helm of an ever-dwindling party that is immune to criticism, new leadership, fresh ideas and democratic practices.
I hope that any such a party never assumes any position of power, never governs and eventually just disappears into history to save our nation the meaningless hardship and facade of replacing one dictatorship with an equally brutal autocratic mind-set in new outfits. I hope to revisit the “small print” of this struggle before accusing Tsvangirai and his colleagues of many falsehoods. Is this not a struggle for democracy, understandably the safeguarding of the voices of the weak against those powerful, influential, privileged and protected ones bellowing from megaphones?
Is democracy not about translating, modulating and giving effect to choice? I believe democracy rejoices and revels in voices being audible and not choices being muted, no matter how small, isolated, poorly presented or inconvenient. Is democracy not about respecting human dignity, human rights and the liberty of each one of us?
What happened to Mangoma is a lesson in hand which must push everyone to reconsider alliances and platforms from which this struggle must continue to be shaped and pursued. Mangoma was stripped of his dignity and exposed to thuggery, beaten and dragged across the street. Those in the MDC T structures cannot speak freely without being subjected to physical punishment by way of flogging.
I could say it is as dangerous for one to speak freely about Tsvangirai around Harvest House vicinities as it is to publicly criticize President Robert Mugabe with all those jobless teens (Harvest House) and C.I.O swimming around eavesdropping on private conversations. And judging by Mangoma’s position in the party (if he has not yet resigned) I wonder what safeguards remain for the ordinary common man in the days of MDC T government. I can foresee whole “nights of long knives”.Advertisement
I am not saying that party business should be the subject of open ridicule in public media outside of well-meaning, purpose built internal structures; of course not. I am not suggesting that either Mangoma had or did not have a case to answer. I am not in the MDC T and am simply not interested in the petty matters they manipulate and inflate into national issues to dodge serious national questions on which they are expected to act by their followers.
My stake in this matter is simple. I and many others fighting against a system of patronage are slowly and gradually coming to terms with the fact that winning against Mugabe and having him replaced by Tsvangirai may be a disastrous and dangerous proposition for the country given his inclination towards undemocratic, violent and unruly leadership.
My fear is that many of my countrymen will be charmed into supporting another style of tyranny which survives on building enemy camps each time its ideas are rejected or challenged. It will be sad if we were hypnotised into this trap under the expediency and illusion that a half-democrat is better than a full autocrat thus being pushed to compromise what this struggle has always been about – the building of a new nation state which is fair , just and equal for all.
What we have been fighting for is democracy, itself a full value-driven system based on concrete, testable and tangible ideals which qualify its existence. We cannot expect democratic governance from people who aspire for totalitarian, unaccountable and militaristic leadership based on sycophancy, sloganeering and use of militias.
I do not find acceptable the suspicious and fraudulent proposition giving meaning to this somewhat life presidency arrangement which supposes Tsvangirai will only, and can only be replaced if the MDC-T accepts the legitimacy of an election in which it loses. Mangoma, Midzi, Bennett and Biti among others are great architects and great assets to this struggle. Our struggle is not purely about holding office in this or that political party. We are men and women who can, and have, and will manage to feed our families without depending on donations available to a political party to make ends meet.
That is where we are different from the job-seekers at Harvest house who hold office to buy nappies from money donated for party projects. Mangoma is being punished for interfering with the flow of family finances which is why the matter gets instantly physical. Biti is a great asset that is over and under-shadowed by chronic mediocrity. Tsvangirai wants a Simon Muzenda around him, an Amai Mujuru, a basic empty-head with a wide mouth not some widely read, well-spoken academic and lawyer breathing sensible and compelling instructions into his vacuum.
The irony is that Tsvangirai is a Muzenda himself. And whilst brainiacs have shown us nothing to blow horns about, Tsvangirai as a basic street guy has left us very worried about the prospect of a president with no brain. He is like a two-year-old clutching to a toy during mealtime and no amount of negotiation and persuasion will prevail and register the seriousness of the occasion and what the priorities must be. Tsvangirai desperately wants to be a Mugabe, feared and authoritative, when nobody would use the later even if they ran out of toilet paper.
Mangoma and Biti should never allow themselves to be deflated by cheap shots, by a misguided lot that seeks to protect and gather around a leader who has a case to be presented over misappropriating party funds, and if that was not the case a leader whose dirty linen has taken over the image, focus, and message of the party which now spends all its time explaining matters of Tsvangirai’s scandalous sex and love life.
It will be sad if we are going to lose the critical and analytical value of Biti’s and Bennett’s contribution because of an internal furore with some jobseekers at Harvest House who simply want to supply their families with bread, eggs and milk from the money raised from the donors at the expense of everyone else’s struggle and freedom. I hope both Biti and Mangoma will not go back to Harvest House with tails between legs seeking accommodation in this new Zanu PF cultured “pro-democracy” outfit that believes in its own survival at the expense of the struggle that brought that party into being.
Tsvangirai’s hostility to alternative ideas has been killing the struggle for years and year-after-year genuine comrades have made tough choices and exited the party which he has now given his surname like a personal possession, or a pendant rather than a platform for launching strategy and action designed to bring down an already comatose dictatorship.
Recently Tsvangirai went along with Mugabe into fooling the nation into a constitutional arrangement authored to defend and maintain the status quo. Is it surprising then to find people who agree that Tsvangirai as a person of limited intellect is being asked to do far too much than his brain can cope with? Is it also not the case that in what appears to be a tussle between Mugabe and his well-resourced camp, and Tsvangirai who is at war with his finest minds, the latter will lose for the very reason that he only depends on his rather very ordinary mind which he never allows to be challenged and therefore asserts it as the standard for what becomes party policy.
In a few words, Tsvangirai chooses to use his barely developed mind as the standard response to the well-articulated, well-rehearsed, high stakes input of state intelligence machinery all working to preserve that which he wants to destroy. How can he win unless he acknowledges that his adversaries pay healthy salaries to have him neutralised adequately? How can he win unless he listens to those around him and makes decisions with them, accepting as he must that he is there to add nothing but ordinariness, there to tame the latin speaking lawyers before layman in Kuwadzana who want things in simple digestible format not GDP calculations to the decimal.
They want someone who they can relate to and speak about clean water, good clinics, safety and security and jobs. They do not want a lesson in how inflation works and how the central bank deals with monetary instruments to the percentage. I am not calling them ignorant .I am alluding to the reality that even in developed countries the politics is about building a relationship not really about taking calculators out and concluding the debate with spreadsheets in hand. A party needs to identify its assets and give them an enabling environment to shine and its leader to be the mouthpiece and reflection of those ideas not the sole originator or regulator of their supply-side.
Tsvangirai’s failure to accept this (the above) has led to a party in which he as founding president has allowed a culture which sees violence as a tool for negotiating solutions within the party itself. Because he is the only president the party has known for the past 14 years it is not fanciful to hold Tsvangirai personally culpable for the conduct of the supporters who beat up Mangoma at the party headquarters in his presence last week.
My party, the NCA hopes, I believe, to keep its doors open to work with comrades who want to be part of a project that is bigger than human ego. I hope Mangoma, Biti, and others will find that the aspiration of the disgruntled and disillusioned cadre is not better represented than in the spirit of the NCA which is at its very stages of recruiting and setting the agenda for the future. I believe that there is everything to be achieved in forming a party of substance that seeks to serve its cause than line the pockets of its leaders.
I hope whatever Mangoma or Biti and others decide to do they will not trade off their vibrancy and critical approach out of fear, or for convenience and accommodation. If they are unhappy, I hope the NCA will find them a place to be as honest, and as critical, and as productive in this struggle as only the sky will limit.
I have faith and trust that together, united and focused, we will conquer and prosper in this struggle, in our lifetime, against all obstacles and odds both in and outside the pro-democracy movement. I have faith that we will clean our politics free of violence and personality cults (Big Dhara syndrome) and build a Zimbabwe where we all have a stake, and are all free to speak and all are equal citizens.
Courage Shumba is a member of the NCA and writes in his personal capacity and dedicates this piece to Elton Mangoma and other victims of political violence. This piece is also dedicated to a close friend Victor Matimba who passed away in car accident who i always believed would return to a safe, free, prosperous Zimbabwe one day. R.I.P*