By Grace Kwinjeh
Unless Zimbabwe’s opposition puts its act together, the thunder that is going to strike it is still doing push-ups in heaven. Events over the past two years should serve as a wake up call for the splintered and faltering opposition, to snap out of its long slumber and act. For it is in a fine mess.
In this article I deal with the Nelson Chamisa’s component of MDC, for as long as they are using that name. Part 2 will deal with Douglas Mwonzora and his entity.
Chamisa I still contend does not have the character or sobriety to lead Zimbabwe’s opposition, to the once vibrant movement it used to be.
He has brought in too much of his flawed personality to make that possible. Take for instance how he postures as deity and the consequential personalisation of the struggle to a supreme being who is beyond criticism. Even that as it maybe, the bible exhorts us to pray for wisdom, calls us to a place of humility and love as a reflection of our faith in Christ Jesus.
Even harder to fathom that a modern day political party in 2021 has a Papa before whom fellow comrades must kneel, be prayed for to receive their blessing. The spiritualisation of the struggle, instead of working strategies people are fed bible verses, people who belong to their own churches, by default of being Chamisa followers, have to stretch their faith into politics to a guy whose beliefs are otherwise contrary to their own.
The painful result of which have included losing legal rights to the MDC name and assets, there is always a price for deception, pride, mediocrity and arrogance.
Furthermore, for a Christian with a love for humanity, his failure to provide a credible, genuine response to Covid-19, offering national leadership and not politicising or seeking to trivialise a global pandemic.
Almost two years after the 2018 harmonised elections, Zimbabwe’s opposition component led by Chamisa, is stuck in the past, with no visible plan for the future the crucial 2023 elections, which in political terms are just around the corner. No campaign or dialogue for crucial reforms, without which the opposition campaign efforts are dead in the water.
By design stuck in 2018 mode because Chamisa in his vendetta has personalised the election outcome, continuing to parrot calls for legitimacy but offering no realistic roadmap forward or strategy that unites Zimbabweans of all walks of life.
Most civil society organisations, everyone has moved on, Chamisa remains stuck.
Chamisa true to character has chosen to throw the toys out of the pram, his tantrums now a nauseating ritual each time that his lack of leadership is exposed, the legitimacy issue becomes an easy tool for distraction.
The late icon Morgan Tsvangirai’s death left the movement he once valiantly and fearlessly led at sixes and sevens clueless as to how to steer the once great movement forward. A vacuum painfully felt each day.
The opposition that once stood tall globally as a champion of human rights and democratic principles is getting unstuck as it fails within itself to practise what it preaches. There is no brother’s keeper.
Emotions have been high, fingers being pointed, witches found, after Lillian Timveos and Blessing Chebundo recently openly, in broad daylight joined Zanu PF, where they were welcomed by its first secretary President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
A gullible opposition membership is convinced by party leadership that they have crossed over to Zanu PF for money. Chamisa’s supporters take no prisoners in their vile attacks, some who ironically were tormenting us in Zanu PF only a few months ago, our blood fresh on their hands?
Strangely, this also said by beneficiaries of a long commodified opposition movement, how many shirts did Chamisa have at the formation of the MDC?
People who have over the years benefited from the benevolence of kind Zimbabweans and the donor community, not that they possess any brilliance or social verticality.
An activist gets special access to programmes in the University of Zimbabwe, scholarships, rent paid for, others have even had cars bought for them, not to mention those who bought houses. Not many of them know how a CV is written 20 years in struggle largess , and will fail to account for their social status should a genuine lifestyle audit be carried out.
Unlike those like Roy Bennet, I met him in New-York he was tired and distraught, he had lost all, recovering from prison days and a cancer attack he also had many a tales to tell. Story for another day.
In 2005 the late Morgan Tsvangirai called me back home from Europe, I was doing just fine with my life, my children, I am a hard worker, I do not survive on handouts, a life disrupted I regret going back to this day. I cannot cry over spilt milk. Tsvangirai was in trouble, not from external enemies, but internal ones, sabotaging, gossiping, the rot was in the party.
Unlike Chebundo or Timveos, tormented Tsvangirai could not defect from his own party, he mobilised us internally to work at times even with parallel structures, when people pontificate about the 2008 election victory, they do so without a full story.
The rot, corruption, hatred of fellow comrades against each other, the kind of nonsense those like Timveos who are defecting today are tired of.
Dismissing them as just political prostitutes will be costly, a narrative that suits Chamisa well in his grandstanding and deception. He deceives those that only awoke to opposition politics post 2017, they only know Chamisa and a well manicured narrative of who he is, overrated contribution to the struggle, thus they attack without care.
They do not know who Chebundo is, they do not know who the late Makuyana is, they do not know who many others are, that’s how Chamisa has framed it. But then it’s getting undone.
Of particular interest to me is how their characters were impugned or called into question by members of a movement that is haemorrhaging from all angles, in a failing post Tsvangirai transition.
Timveos going in a key province means Zanu PF is doing its maths, 2023 will be too late to start screaming rigging and legitimacy. Timveos was a key member not just in the Province, but at national level possessing an influential global reach, worrisome it should be for the MDC that she is now Mnangagwa’s ally, name calling is not an option – strategy and sobriety are.
The unravelling of the opposition taking place today, does not only have national consequences because Zanu PF remains cunning doing its mathematics, it also has global ramifications.
The MDC was born out of a dream whose time it seemed had come, in global politics and indeed on the African continent, the Berlin Wall had fallen, Apartheid South-Africa collapsed, the talk and calls for multi-party democracy were loud and clear.
These people had no real ideologically binding glue apart from issues with the status-quo at the time, riding on the apparent global winds of change, based on the mistaken notion or assumptions that one party states or nationalist movements were easy to break – for Zimbabwe it has been a blow for blow.
The fixation for the international community was on the late former President Robert Mugabe, there was a strong focus against him, with conclusions that he was at the epicenter of everything that was wrong in Zanu PF and by extension in Zimbabwe’s national politics.
A script today that goes horribly wrong when a senior opposition leader Tendai Biti publicly says he misses Mugabe.
I continue to write
—Grace Kwinjeh is a founding member of MDC and credited for coining the name Movement for Democratic Change