By Sibanengi Dube
Nelson Chamisa’s MDC A is losing senior members faster than the rate at which a Jetfighter drops missiles in a war zone.
No party can survive such a hemorrhaging of members. The rate is frightening. Too much loss of blood has a fatal effect on human beings or any other animal. The same applies to any organization which survives through the good will of the masses. People are the blood and oxygen of any organization, especially political parties whose relevance are determined by numbers. Loss of just one vote is way too much for any serious party with immediate intentions to take power. It is worse if the party is suffering dissertations at its upper echelons.
To suggest that all leaders who dumped MDC A enjoy zero grass roots support is wishful thinking and a shocking negation of reality. Equally nauseating are utterances being spewed by a few MDC A functionalists who claim that only Chamisa enjoys the support of party members, supporters, and voters. Such warped claims of a personal feat over MDC A’s good showing in the recent elections are a mockery to the teamwork which was put in by Zimbabweans in an effort to get Chamisa to State House. It is absurd for an individual to claim personal grandeur ahead of more than two million other people who backed his unsuccessful bid to snatch the highest office in the land.
Of course, Chamisa pulled comical star performances during the campaigns, but it is mere selfishness to claim all credit to himself without sharing it with members of his team and voters who risked their lives to put an X behind his name. The most common mistake which populist and funny leaders make is to think that the masses are excited by their personalities. People support an idea, not an individual. The MDC A would be in shambles and bad shape by the time of 2023 elections if Chamisa continues to sleep on duty.
There is a danger that the current crop of MDC leadership might be drawing in final nails in the coffin of a brand which the late Morgan Tsvangirai built over a period of 20 years. At no other point has MDC been in such turmoil and disarray. All this cannot be blamed on Zanu PF and its infiltrators. At any rate it is 100% rubbish for anyone to expect Zanu PF to be user friendly to MDC.
Attempts to stop the loss of blood by a victim of an injury are the first crucial steps to be taken to preserve life. The victim could be bandaged, or the injured limp would be elevated to minimize the loss of blood through force of gravity. The injury is deemed worse if the victim loses body organs. If initial efforts are not intended to stop the gushing out of blood, then the primary objective of preserving life is compromised.
Instead of stopping the current fatal losses, MDC A is just dismissing those leaving the party as CIOs or Zanu PF moles or gastric politicians foraging for a space in the gravy train. One would expect Machinja to genuinely interrogate push factors that are bloody costing them this much, but instead those leaving the party are imperiled to vituperative doses of insults and blackmailing.
No substantive narratives are given to twitchy members of the party who are now nursing more question marks than answers. The chaotic situation in the party speaks more about quality of leadership than those jumping the ship. Lack of clarity on the way forward in response to distabilising developments within and outside MDC A is breeding anxiety and a sense of hopelessness. At the moment one cannot tell if MDC A is coming or going.
The spineless Chamisa resorted to lip service when his party was thrown out of Harvest House. He did not lift even a finger to defend his MPs when they were thrown out of parliament. He is still out of action as his councillors continue to be tossed out of councils.
Shockingly the Party leadership respond to the exodus of members by activating their keyboard vicious soldiers to vilify other leaders who are viewed as not hailing Chamisa enough. Some of us expected the leadership to unify members and all other progressive forces working towards the liberation of Zimbabweans from Zanu PF.
Instead, MDC yacho rava bhasikiti raTizirai, rinoti uku rinorukwa uku richirudunugwa. No attempts are being done to pacify remaining Party members. Clear missed opportunities to introspect. Kwanzi MDC A chinhu chedu ichi kana pane asvotwa ngaarutse. Such an approach which is blind to intersectional interests poses a danger of alienating the once vibrant labour backed party from stakeholders. Clear lack of dexterity hinged on poor comprehension of the heterogeneous needs of various MDC stake-holders are at the centre of Chamisa’s glaring bungling. Mandihindini attitude, big-man syndrome and Sabhuku Varazipi mentality are the major obstacles standing in between the former Harare Polytechnic SRC President and State House.
Thokozani Khupe left, triggering a protracted tug of war with Chamisa which literally collapsed the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s Party. The acrimonious catfight created space for Zanu PF’s lethal dosage which precipitated the parliamentary recalls. Was Khupe wrong to insist on taking over from Tsvangirai? This is not to suggest that Khupe was the best foot forward. Of course, she was not! Was there no other way of executing the party succession clause other than overtaking from the left?
A few months down the line, another group which comprised of Morgen Komichi, Douglas Mwonzora and Elias Mudzuri realigned themselves away from Chamisa but remained within the MDC brand. Then another Party stalwart Tapiwa Mashakada was elbowed out. Chamisa’s nucleus cracked again when the Party’s Deputy Treasurer General Lillian Timveos joined Zanu PF. The list of highflying MDC A leaders who are shopping for a political home is growing.
The fast-growing list of nobodies leaving Chamisa’s fold is not easy to document, mainly from frustrated constituencies where candidates were imposed or rigged for or against. In some constituencies primary elections were rigged in favour of less popular and youthful candidates. For instance, Blessing Chebundo was reportedly rigged out which costed the MDC A Kwekwe Constituency. Tongai Matutu also faced the same fate in Masvingo where Chamisa personally barred him from participating in internal elections. Matutu and Chebundo who were facing persecution from both sides had to seek truce with Zanu PF clearly as a means of survival. This is not to suggest that they made the best decision, but human beings naturally switch to a survival mode when their hierarchy of needs are threatened.
All those leaving the party are crying foul over their treatment by the party leader. Most of the defectors to either MDC T or Zanu PF pose a veil of threat to Chamisa’s hegemony. MDC A is sacrificing good leaders for political expediency of an individual. The entire members of the standing committee with unquestionable capacity to take over from Chamisa are under constant threats of demotion, expulsion, physical harm from vanguards or blistering assaults on their images by sponsored keyboard soldiers whose sole responsibility is kusvibisa munhu. Leaders like Job Sikhala, Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube are still in MDC A simply because they are more focused on the enemy, Zanu PF than to take notice of Chamisa’s provocations and insults through his barking puppies. They chose to pay more attention to the Movement than the weakness and insecurity of Chamisa who views them as competitors and not complementors.
I listened in horror when a former member of Chamisa ’Standing Committee told me that he used to run his department using his own resources. He said not even a single word was uttered in any meeting about the money which the Party used to get from Parliament. Initiatives by other leaders are dismissed as attempts to outshine the president who completely surrounded himself with imbongis (praise singers). Questionable appointments into Party leadership positions and deployments to Councils, Parliament and Senator are purely designed to reward loyalty and hero worshipping.
Some of the appointments are clearly in violation of the party constitution. Some individuals with party memberships which are barely a year old were entrusted with huge responsibilities. Some even contested as independent candidates against preferred Party candidates in the just ended 2018 elections.
Chamisa has made efforts to gag Sikhala and Biti, even though the duo is among the few MDC A leaders who are constantly creating genuine headaches for ED’s regime. Chamisa’s unquenchable appetite to exert control over everyone and everything is a glaring eyesore within MDC. Leaders with access to media interviews have been ordered to heap praises on Chamisa while those administering WhatsApp groups were directed to remove members who are critical of the dear leader. An MDC media WhatsApp group for journalists to interact with the Party’s Communication department had its settings altered to stop the media from posting questions or comments.
Party members have also been directed to desist from using social media to highlight acts of bravery of other opposition leaders like Bob Wine of Uganda and Julius Malema of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). One leader who spent 30 minutes on eNCA received a tongue-lashing call from Chamisa for not mentioning his name.
So is MDC A about Chamisa only. Is still a Chamisa Chete Chete (CCC) venture?
–Sibanengi Dube is the Publisher of Zimbabwe Observer