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is losing moral and political authority to oppose
Shumba, New Zimbabwe
June 13, 2007
THE opposition Movement
for Democratic Change's failure to unite and advance the cause of
Zimbabweans as one opposition will be very costly in our struggle
Zanu PF with all their
differences and disorganisation have done a pretty job, realising
the little hope of survival they can scratch united under their
As for us, the opposition,
our egos and ambition are so self-defeating one would think we were
the ones in power. This monkeying around is coming at a big price.
It is akin to attempting to abort a pregnant revolution that is
about to deliver. What real strength is there in an opposition that
cannot see that in dangerous and critical times like this, safety
is in unity?
Our own history speaks
of the importance of unity. The Zanla/Zipra forces were a show of
unity in our quest against imperial racism. The Rainbow Coalition
in Kenya was a show of unity against 'nationalist' authoritarianism.
The infighting in the MDC is misdirection and misapplication of
our focus and energy. This fighting reveals shallowness, an emptiness
of depth and resolve that can be dangerous if given power. It is
unbelievable that instead of keeping our eyes and minds on Robert
Mugabe, or whatever his real name is, we have the luxury to create
new rivals between ourselves.
Part of being a good
governor, before we venture into discussions about good governance,
has to do with the ability to make priorities, to be flexible, accommodating,
evaluating, reconsidering, take responsibility and being accountable.
Accountability requires that not only should the MDC tell us why
they have allowed this expensive split to interfere with the core
business of the party but why they are failing to effectively deal
with it. This fallout has all the traces of weak minds. One would
be forgiven for asking if the MDC really knows what the pressing
needs of Zimbabweans are outside this self-indulgent struggle for
Does anyone agree that
this crucial episode in our struggle with a dictatorship that is
threatening to entrench itself, is the best opportunity to showcase
personal distaste for one another over what are rather academic
differences about what was right or wrong about participating in
2005 senate elections some two years ago? If it isn't about that
fall-out in 2005 over the senate election then what is it about?
People do not become
good leaders because they are in government; they become a good
government by bringing with them important leadership attributes
they hold outside the structures of power. The failure to manage
this fallout has a sad telling about the political liability and
indecisiveness we may risk remaining entangled in even at the collapse
of Zanu PF unless we start thinking as people who wish to take on
a much bigger responsibility than running an opposition party.
The MDC leadership has
a moral duty to ensure that it does not become itself the reason
Mugabe escapes with another unendorsed presidential term. By assuming
the responsibility to stand for the people and indeed marry their
wishes to its political brand, the MDC is answerable to the masses
through whom it claims its political legitimacy. Its leadership
needs to understand that Zimbabwe's main problem today is the ruling
party and not the structural constitution of the opposition.
The main point that must
not be overlooked in all this is that we are not yet in power, and
fighting for supremacy in the right to oppose is fighting for fictional
and non existent power. Opposition becomes more effective with many
and more people fighting against a common enemy together than with
small fractious voices of discontent operating separately.
Zimbabwe's crisis today
is about leadership. Zimbabwe needs people who can make sound and
exceptional decisions than it needs courage, bravado and oratory
might. The quality of a decision will be judged by its ability to
prioritise the common stand of our people. Our people today are
eager and restless in seeking to bring to an abrupt end the treacherous,
brutal and fascist continuation of colonial policy in what is supposed
to be a free African state.
An opposition that has
inherited a dangerous habit of behaving like the enemy we are struggling
to remove is not helping that. We are fighting an enemy that turned
a promising regional food producer into a refugee producing country.
We are fighting a man who like Ian Smith still believes Zimbabweans
are the happiest Africans, a statement Smith once made and regretted.We
are fighting a man who like Smith believes there will be no democratic
self rule in Zimbabwe in his lifetime. We expect no similarities
between the party we support and the Rhodesian mentality of the
tyrant in charge of our country. We cannot afford to misplace our
Exactly what are we meant
to benefit from Arthur Mutambara fighting Morgan Tsvangirai, and
Tsvangirai fighting Mutambara when both blows ought to knock out
Mugabe? It is sad that now when Mugabe is fighting dissidents within
his own party, the perfect opportunity we should have sent him flying
face down, we have chosen to undermine the importance of capitalising
on his present difficulties.
I have advised against
participation in an election conducted in an environment where free
choice is rendered inexercisable. However, if the MDC is to be headstrong,
and participate anyway, the real danger is that this present weakened
outfit will itself be used to justify its massacre. It will be harder
to argue that you have been defrauded when you would have lost anyway.
If this does not matter
to the present factions of the MDC, it surely is a matter of critical
concern to him or her who last had a square meal yesterday, or the
day before, who may skip today's and tomorrow's. If it is not that
important to Tsvangirai or Mutambara and their deputies, surely
it could have been important to a statesman whose vision includes
a good health policy that has sadly failed another Zimbabwean today.
The present situation
in Zimbabwe has practical consequences; very tangible implications
visibly visited on the quality of lives of the people each day.
Each day a solution is not worked out someone dies of lack of drugs.
Each day that a solution is not found someone else starves to death.
Each day we find no solution another child drops out of school.
Each day we delay the finding of a solution another person becomes
a first time criminal. Each day we fail to take victory from Mugabe
and his puppets, another Zimbabwean crosses the border in frustration.
That is the frequency of the desperation by which we demand measurable
maturity in politics as a standard.
Politics is not about
privilege. That thinking will take us where Zanu PF is dragging
us. Politics is about patriotism; patriotism being the inestimable
and unquantifiably irrevocable love for one's country and its peoples.
Patriotism is the ideology that builds countries. In the absence
of patriotic faith, countries collapse from indifference. Patriotism
overrides the selfishness of the individual. Patriotism inspires
justice, equality and unity. In itself patriotism is a fuel awaiting
ignition at the very onset of national betrayal.
This is why Zanu PF will
use force, rigging and threats because it has lost the legitimacy
to claim to be acting in patriotic interest. It is doubtlessly nothing
else but patriotic goals and values that win an election in any
democratic exercise. It is therefore very crucial that the priorities
of the MDC must be seen to pass the patriotic test. It is clear,
from this analysis, that the project to remove Mugabe is far more
patriotic and in the interests of national well being, which patriotism
is about, than is the administrative issue of who has more recognition,
power and influence within the MDC itself.
I believe that before
this election which the MDC has a choice to abandon, quite sensibly,
takes place, there is a compelling case for leadership re-engagement
from the two senselessly warring factions. This should be done for
the people of Zimbabwe even if this is a bitter taste for the individuals
and a set back to their own personal positioning and ambitions.
Without proper calculation,
most of these ambitions will remain a fantasy but whilst that may
not be anything of a national crisis, Zimbabwe will have been robbed
of a chance to deal with its institutional and structurally entrenched
What I am asking these
two sides to do is what we have long demanded from Zanu PF without
relief - to put the national interest first. It would be a shame
for the MDC to continue behaving like Zanu PF -- sacrificing national
interest on the altar of pride, ego and personal ambition.
Courage Shumba is a former
student leader and human rights campaigner
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