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When arrogance takes over the people-s struggle
Marko Phiri
September 18, 2007

One thing that has stood out concerning the MDC rift is the principle of prioritisation. The very basis of the genesis of any political formation is an attempt to usher in a new beginning.

This is a self-evident truth in all struggles for democracy, and this itself is informed by popular sentiment that those who had been looked up to as liberators - be it from white colonial rule or from another increasingly useless black regime - have outlived their relevance in the national discourse of politics and economics.

While these struggles within the political gladiators previously belonging to the same school of thought litter history, they have left a lot of observers and supporters confounded as to what happened to what had been a very noble and promising beginning.

How could it all fizzle like some voodoo incantations were responsible for their ignominious fate of still birth? However, history will show that what has tainted hugely popular opposition movements in this wretched continent is the shift from the centre to outside.

The nucleus of all pre and post-independence African political parties and formations has always been the burning desire by men and claim brave enough to claim leadership to liberate the so-called masses.

The movement began and begins with the people being central to the cause, and because all struggles are waged with gallant men and women taking up to the podium as the people-s representatives, this becomes the basis of a veritable people driven push for popular democracy.

But when the movement shifts to the periphery with priorities seemingly shifting from the centre and to areas where the "ordinary masses" that have indisputable claim to the birth of that organised political formation, they justifiably become agonised by such developments.

The irony then is seemingly that, movement to the outside would assume extending from the leadership to the people, but no, it is the people who form the nucleus, not the politicians. It is the people who accept leaders not vice versa, but then politicians have tended to fashion themselves as forming the core of the struggle for democracy, but it is known no struggle is waged successfully from air-conditioned environs: it is the people who take the beatings on the road to democracy.

In the wake of the MDC split, what has emerged in the streets - at least in Bulawayo, but one gets the esoteric feeling this sentiment is nationwide considering the mass unpopularity of Zanu PF - people power has disappeared from this struggle which began so beautifully in 1999.

I have spoken to a number of people here and they will tell you they are not voting next year, but these are the same young people who came out in their numbers in 2000 to hoist the opposition to national and international prominence as the David who nearly slew what was seen as the increasingly despotic Goliath.

Yet the reasons remain that this is a struggle that has been taken from the people to the politicians for some reasons the people are yet to understand. And then the usual wise guy said something like, Zanu PF never rigs elections: if the ruling party has five supporters who vote and the "popular" opposition has ten who do not vote, what do you expect?

What informs such frustrations is the feeling among potential voters and erstwhile supporters that if politicians bicker on a personal level, what then do they have to offer on a national level where you have an amalgamation of divergent beliefs outside the volatility of politics?

Prioritisation has moved from politicians being given relevance by the people to politicians seeking to make themselves relevant to themselves and seemingly to the national psyche. Just do not let the people forget we exist! Yet you might indeed exist but with no relevance to anything like Zanu PF! And that is the beginning of the struggle being reduced to levels of levity.

This has been seen in parties which claim ownership of any struggle where you have hardliners ignoring the very principles that sprang them to power simply for the sake of power. And we know with power comes wealth and with immitigable arrogance.

The opposition political parties are in great danger of showing us and the world they are no better than the so-called founding fathers. While the ruling party bickers with whispers and innuendos, some opposition officials appear to think they have to convince us of their relevance by shouting political inanities at their perceived opponents within the opposition movement who have shunned a call to united arms, apparently all in bid to win hearts and minds ahead of March 2008.

To the man on the street who watched with awe the rise of the workers- movement, civic groups and intellectuals coming together in a bid to reclaim their beloved country from pillagers, the whole excitement about March 2008 and the much-hyped Mbeki talks remains to them nothing but mind-numbing Greek.

For many however, the fact of the matter is that in the absence of a united opposition, the people of Zimbabwe remain just where there have always been: nowhere.

But then, as some politicians have already proven, when priorities shift from being people-centred to anything else that seeks some kind of arcane academic or intellectual interpretation, that becomes the very sign that this revolution will never be televised. Why? Because it will never happen without the people.

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