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The MDC Congress: So much hype, so much hot air

03 Jun 2019 at 13:12hrs | Views
The much-vaunted MDC elective congress ended the week before last.

Some people such as those who were rejected by their own people but had to give 10 head of cattle as an offering to the god of the party are rejoicing. So too are those outfoxed the "owner" of the party to land posts which they were not supposed to get. Those who licked MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa's boots and body for good measure in vain bids to earn themselves plump posts are yet to emerge from their doors since then as they are still licking their wounds.

Such were the highlights of the event. Apart from rescuing Chamisa from the precarious position of being an illegitimate leader of a party which he seized from the rightful heiress, the congress was nothing to write home about. Even for the dyed-in-the-wool MDC members, there was nothing to bring out celebration drums for. The much-hyped gathering culminated into nothing concrete except for very colourful hot air. It turned out to be an event to regurgitate the same hackneyed Chamisa message.

Many political observers, both interested and non-interested, expected Chamisa to chart a new course for the MDC which is different from that of his predecessor, the late Morgan Tsvangirai which was characterised by a series of successive electoral losses at the hands of the former President, Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF due to lack of a sound message, ideology and life-changing policies. The MDC was formed in September 1999 against a backcloth of the suffering which was brought about by the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) of the 1990s. The party did not offer anything meaningful to the people of Zimbabwe to improve their unenviable lot since then. Instead, it rode on the people's desperation for a party which they mistakenly thought would provide overnight relief from the temporary negative effects of ESAP.

 Its default message became "Mugabe must go" and, post November 2017, it continues to be "(President Emmerson) Mnangagwa must go."  After being fed with the same message, which for years has proved to be an easy substitute for lack of political tact, many of that party's adherents were fervently hoping that Chamisa would breathe a new life in the MDC through better and sounder strategy as well as clearer ideology but they left Gweru a very disappointed lot.

Contrary to the world's expectation that Chamisa would use his first congress as the MDC leader to declare and demonstrate that he had the people's welfare at heart, he confirmed most people's observation that he had nothing and no one at heart except power.

"We are going to ensure that you (President Mnangagwa) fail," he declared and vowed as he addressed the delegates. Chamisa is prepared to push for President Mnangagwa's failure forgetting that this would lead to Zimbabwe's failure which would affect him (Chamisa) and his supporters too. Chamisa displayed his readiness to burn the whole country to massage his oversized ego in order to exact his pound of flesh from President Mnangagwa for trouncing him in the ballot box last July due to his party's poor leadership and policies. Real leaders do not advocate failure especially one that affects the same people that they wish to lead some day.
When South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa's party, the African National Congress (ANC) won the 8 May elections earning him the Presidency, the leader of the opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema congratulated him. Malema is two years younger than Chamisa but he handled his electoral loss in a much mature manner.

"I was telling the deputy (leader of the EFF, Floyd Shivambu) that you (Ramaphosa) worked hard, jealous down. Don't forget that I say jealous down," said Malema to Ramaphosa.

Most people expected Chamisa to offer his party's own ideas to tackle the various challenges which the country is grappling with by joining other stakeholders such as other political parties in dialogue. Instead, as has come to be expected from the immature politician that he is, he threatened war on President Mnangagwa to force him to agree to his (Chamisa's ) own selfish dialogue which is calculated at forcing another election before 2023.

Even in the very unlikely event of the pre-2023 election happening, one wonders how he would win when he was rejected by the electorate just 11 months ago. He seems to be still under the spell of the illusion that seemingly high rally attendances translate into a presidential election win without doing anything tangible to earn the victory.

The congress, apart from serving Chamisa's interests to bury some internal opponents such as former secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora and former vice president, Engineer Elias Mudzuri, also came up with resolutions whose document read like some perfunctorily prepared paper to pay lip service to ideals which the party has demonstrated in the past 20 years that it is not prepared to live by. For example, item 1(c) reads that MDC would provide "solid and effective leadership in the zones controlled by the party including Parliament (and) local authority (sic)...."

Urban dwellers are the first witnesses to the dismal failure and poor stewardship of the local authorities under the MDC for the past two decades. In Harare, residents are fed dirt, disease and death through very poor quality and erratically supplied water and uncollected refuse. In Chitungwiza, MDC councillors carved up and sold undesignated pieces of land as residential stands for self-enrichment. Gweru residents are still reeling from the shock of learning recently that the city's 1.85 hectare Kudzanayi bus rank was irregularly, illegally and secretly sold off in 2004 behind the backs of the residents - thanks to an MDC-dominated council.

Residents are the electorate and they choose people who they believe would better represent them in councils but under the Chamisa-led MDC, they do not matter. He matters much more than all the residents put together. That is why he sought to influence who would be elected mayors in Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Masvingo and Victoria Falls among other urban areas. Where he failed he used force. That is the kind of democracy which Chamisa sought to consolidate through congress.

In Parliament, the MDC legislators' record is well known. They are more of hecklers and demanders of allowances and perks than serious representatives of the people. Most urban constituencies which they are supposed to represent are known for neglect by absentee members of Parliament. Given this background, it is clear that the document was just an accompaniment to the main business of consolidating Chamisa's stranglehold on the party. Nothing more nothing less.

The document also expressed the party's quest for the "deepening and sharpening (of) the party's relations with the trade union movement." This aspiration lays bare the fact that the party is very confused in terms of its ideology. It started off as a workers' party but ended up as a neo-liberal one which was supported by the West and local capital. If sooth be said: the party is lost at sea in terms of ideology and therein lies the reason for its perennial electoral losses. The West, which plays the role of the party's handler and funder, has no interest in the working class' welfare except as running dogs when they are needed in illegal regime change schemes such as protests.

Yes, some MDC members, especially the blind followers in party's grassroots, are revelling in the aftermath of a "successful congress" but the reality is that, although Chamisa is a new broom, his utterances and desperate attempts to earn power by conjuring up a non-existent legitimacy issue against President Mnangagwa in order to get into Government by the back door, have exposed him as lacking in political maturity and tact.

His failure to come up with and announce new,  imaginative and effective ways of reviving the party's waning fortunes have laid bare the uncomfortable truth that the MDC will continue in the same path that it has walked for the past 20 years and the results will continue to be the same if not worse. Put differently, Chamisa is set to perpetuate Tsvangirai's perpetual loser legacy because he represents nothing new to the electorate.

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Source - Nobleman Runyanga
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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