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Chamisa a Fisher of Men, of Mwonzora and Fissures of Men

08 Apr 2019 at 12:11hrs | Views
The African National Congress went into the Mangaung congress in 2012 deeply wounded because of consistent corruption scandals by figures in the national leadership. Jacob Zuma's political stock had dramatically risen prior 2009 due to a rigorous publicity offensive that resulted in a boardroom coup de tat against the country's second democratic president and leader of the ruling party. While the involvement of other organs of state, like the NPA which controversially dropped charges against Zuma thus enabling him to run for president, could not be ignored, Mbeki's exit from the helm of the party had its own lessons. Zuma was effortlessly riding on the buoyance of a tide that projected him as a victim of political cannibalism at the hands of the elitist faction within the party and government. This too was aided by the common feeling that the nationalist project had lost touch with the common man, whilst riding on his vote at the same time. A few years down the line, Jacob had not done well as a successor to the state that had not forgotten Mandela and Mbeki but the transformation and economic emancipation endeavour needed a hero whom people could identify with and believe in.

… state that had not forgotten Mandela and Mbeki, but the transformation and economic emancipation endeavour needed a hero whom people could identify with and believe in.

Drawing parallels between Mangaung and the MDC Alliance's May congress could go a long way in saving the democratic project in the country. The several splits that the party has suffered along its two decades' journey delayed the emancipation of many on multi-faceted fronts, it is indeed the 2008 March election that costed the most. To that list, the Biti rebellion after the 2013 elections resulted in the opposition losing more seats in the subsequent fight that ensued when MDC-T wrote to parliament to terminate the mandate of the rebels. While them not being political dwarfs, Khupe and Gutu have all but reduced themselves to a regional party that can only stand a chance on a devolution template. It is not expected that Mwonzora will split and form a splinter outfit, he knows too well that none has succeeded out there. Grassroots numbers are not on his side too. Mujuru et al are now flocking back en masse to the ruling party. It is indeed cold out there.

Smarting from the Biti rebellion and before that, the Ncube's, Tsvangirai had sought to exorcise the demon that had bedevilled the SG's role within the party as the chief administrator, and to forestall an unfortunate trend that could have seen the light of day for longer. This easily presented a dilemma for him to the extent that it could better be achieved by having a less ambitious cadre in the role, and someone with less grassroots leverage. At the same time, over and above, a strong grassroots touch in the top echelons of the party was needed in order for the party to remain relevant and present real chances of deposing the ruling party. This is why the National Council had to authorise the appointment of further VPs in the party, carry along and pacify the SG position loser who had this institutional advantage, national prominence and appeal. Going into congress at that time, Mwonzora had one nomination as opposed to Chamisa's all but one. How did Mwonzora then pull the rug and emerge the winner? He did not, Tsvangirai did.

Chamisa is indeed riding on the buoyance of the numbers he received in last year's disputed election and every factor on the ground points that he commands support. Mwonzora would commit a grave mistake if he is of the perception that his bedrock support which is thought to be the majority of delegates from the 2014 congress structures, draws its strength from secrecy and crocodile tactics of surprise. Makoni counted on this, it backfired badly. The dynamics have subsequently changed since the last congress, alliances have realigned and nobody wants to be caught on the losing side at the end of the duel. It would be a tragedy of history should the congress delegates not reaffirm the hope placed in Chamisa by the masses, who in their collective voice spoke in the 2018 election louder than before. It is also true that this voice of the masses is carried within the delegates to the congress themselves. Chamisa indeed pulls numbers, he is a fisher of men. I believe Mwonzora heals fissures of men. He is able in that regard.

The democratic project itself must wean itself of unbecoming tendencies of stifling fair contestation of ideas and positions. Whether the president is challenged at congress or not should actually strengthen the party rather than being an excuse to accuse each other of destroying the party from within. As the president, being challenged and emerging as the winner actually confirms the mandate of the people at the same time gauging the scale of your resonance with the masses and what you stand for. Why on earth should Chamisa not be challenged if as a diverse party every quota holds a different opinion on how the project must trudge along?

Further, the democratic project must not forget the long and difficult road that its cadres have collectively travelled since the onslaught on democracy by the regime, and petty fissures must never be used as excuses to wean off cadres who have dedicated and sacrificed their lives working and serving the party right from the beginning to date. Everyone is needed the fresh and the old cadres, the party must perpetuate beyond this generation. Mwonzora must be allowed to smart from a dignified loss and serve the party in any capacity that he is subsequently deployed to. He has had a fine run in opposition politics since his journey started in student activism and to this day, he has proven to be a cool head, a strong administrator and solution maker who heals the fissures of men in the party incidental to illegal dismissals and unlawful votes of no confidence. It must never be a culture of the party to offload the losing persons, labelling them names and resulting in them forming splinter parties. The moral argument that Mugabe was power hungry was lost in that manner whereby in such a small country and population such as ours, there would be a record 23 presidential candidates. Even the cold war was on two competing views of the world.

Robert Sigauke is a political commentator, author, legal professional and entrepreneur. He writes from Cape Town and can be contacted on  WhatsApp +27713348876.

Source - Robert Sigauke
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