THE recent public spat between Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti cannot be allowed to pass without reproof. Not only was it unfortunate but it was totally unnecessary — as unnecessary as buying a ring for more than a million US Dollars in a country where major referral hospitals do not have bedding, food and basic medical supplies.
We have not forgotten that in 1999, people from all walks of life converged to form what became known as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). These included student bodies, the labour movement, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), peasant farmers, a multitude of lawyers and an enormous groundswell of supporters among the general public. In no time, the Diaspora also came in numbers. We appeared to be on the right path and there was so much hope.
The open palm was adopted as the symbol for the new movement and it resonated easily and effectively with the people, including those in rural areas. A formidable force, more than just a protest movement, had been born.
Morgan Tsvangirai was there. So were Tendai Biti, Welman Ncube, Gibson Sibanda, Nelson Chamisa, Learnmore Jongwe, Job Sikhala, Isaac Matongo, Douglas Mwonzora, Lucia Matibenga, Sekai Holland, Grace Kwinjeh, to name just a few. This gigantic and promising movement was not built by just one person.
Down the track, we saw blood on the floor — literally when people were murdered for this cause. Talent Mabika, Tendai Chiminya, Nabanyama, Ndira, Bakacheza and many others, were murdered. Some disappeared without trace. Others lost their homes. Many others were left with physical scars including Tsvangirai, Chamisa, Holland and Kwinjeh. Roy Bennett lost everything he had worked for in is life. Many innocent farmers were killed. A new struggle had begun!
Who in his right mind would stand on roof top and say “I did it alone?” The numbers that we often hear about do not belong to an individual, they belong to a cause, to the democratic struggle. If it’s true that he who has numbers cannot and must not listen to anybody, then Donald Trump would be justified in saying “I’ve my billions, I won’t listen to anybody, including those in Pennsylvania, Ohio and many other states where I did so well”. What kind of society would we end up with? Yes, Tsvangirai has a remarkable following but that must not blind him to the extent of failing to see the big picture. Ziva kwawakabva!Advertisement
Tendai Biti and Morgan Tsvangirai must not treat each other as if they were an embittered couple fighting fiercely over a divorce. Given the long journey they have travelled together since 1999, they must have some underlying respect for each other and know when to exercise restraint.
Personal attacks do not help anybody. Biti, as a respected lawyer, must carry his integrity beyond courtrooms. You cannot say in one breath that you support a coalition and, in the next breath, label potential partners as idiots. It is an inappropriate paradox. I would have said ‘childish’ if it was not going to be an insult to our children.
Our leaders must be passionate about democratic reforms, coalition and voter registration. This is where we should expend our energies rather than behaving like people at a baby shower that has turned nasty after a few glasses of champagne.
It is ZUNDE’s hope that this is the last of these pubic spats. Tendai Biti, you must get on the phone next time and talk to your former boss if you have an issue with him. Better still, go and talk to him face to face. The same applies to Morgan Tsvangirai. As we move towards the crucial elections of 2018, there must be decorum and respect for one another in the opposition movement. Let us focus on what is important for our nation.
Let us demonstrate some maturity and reasonableness. It is time to do some serious introspection and agree on how best we can work together to consign ZANU PF to the dustbin of history in 2018.
A genuine and effective coalition is what we must strive for. This is not the same as finding jobs for desperate but dangerously ambitious men and women who have joined politics for personal aggrandisement, who think that politics is a private family business which opens doors to unlimited donor funding. And there are many!
Zimbabwe is our motherland. Together we can do it.
Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim secretary general for ZUNDE. www.zunde.org; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com