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Songstress, Congress, Compress not Oppress

30 Dec 2020 at 17:19hrs | Views
Whenever the die-hard cadres in the MDC Alliance see smoke in the MDC-T, they wish it was gehena manifesting, except that this it is a braai not gehena. It is common cause that the victims of Khupe's wielded axe in Parliament and town councils are in celebratory mood, having witnessed a congress marred by fierce mudslinging, disagreements, kuramwirana and disputes of all sorts. Perhaps the biggest of them all is the supposed fall of the iron lady. The insights are all sorts too, it is a braai and not gehena.

The songstress sings
As predictable as the lyrics of a published song, the MDC Alliance's story is one such published song. The ruling party has had easy wins at the polls primarily due to the MDC's reluctance or naivety (imagine the lure of both) about addressing the elephant in the room. It has always been the allegation of the mainstream opposition that elections are rigged in Zimbabwe in favour of ZANU PF. Taken to be true, the obvious would then be to address issues surrounding safeguarding the people's vote. That should be the clear focus of the opposition where all energies and resources must be invested. These issues relate to firstly, security sector reform where the country's security complex do not dictate or influence the constitutional and political order of the day. Secondly being the issue of guarantees of the independence of the elections body, ZEC. Thirdly being the issue of airwaves and broadcasting being opened for all and sundry to inculcate and foster debate and exchange of differing views. Central to this too, fourth is the issue of Zimbabwean elections being compliant in text and tow to the SADC guidelines governing free and fair elections. The list goes on beyond these. A chance for reforms was lost during GNU, and it was lost big.

On the other hand the question of the rural vote remains critical and poorly addressed. Votes are amassed on the ground, pound for pound with the ruling party, on the streets, not on Tweets. The MDC Alliance has no impact on the ground in the rural areas and as long as the above is not taken by the horns the political songstress still and will sing the song of electoral loss without remorse in audience of the mainstream opposition.

We fall to rise
This is a principle of life that none of us can fully have control over. The massive legal attack by Khupe in 2019 which saw the elevation of Chamisa to the presidency of the mainstream opposition being declared invalid by the High Court, then confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2020 could not have been avoided, but could have been contained politically. I remember an article in which I advised the Alliance of critical political options they painfully had to take which could have left them breathing better today (see ) .
I will point out something very profound that Nelson needs to realise, and most probably why the options suggested in the article with the above link was not followed. Biti, Ncube, Sikhala on one side, and Mwonzora, Komichi, Khupe and Mudzuri on the other, are all veterans of the MDC when it was originally formed back in 1999. However, the first three being Biti, Ncube and Sikhala share a common denominator which informs their advice and decisions with regards to political processes within the MDC Alliance. These men have been rebels at some point and witnessed the harsh weather when they left Tsvangirai. They argued the degeneration of original values and principles of the MDC under Tsvangirai, a culture of violence being central. Politically however, they witnessed that there are no values and principles to talk about when there is political failure, when the numbers don't go with you. If there is a lesson they have learnt is that they must stick within the party come what may and thus, they stay no matter the illegality of the party.

After the Supreme Court judgment assault, the MDC Alliance's better chances were in rebranding itself and setting up itself as a separate political party, not a loose coalition of political parties as they are. Khupe even later argued that the MDC-T is the MDC Alliance because they are the legitimate camp which Tsvangirai headed and led, she is right.

With regards to the other option, Nelson had better chances in accepting the judgment and submitting to the congress and challenge for the presidency. The legal and political woes would have been dealt with once and for all. But alas, the Bitis, Ncube's and Sikhala's would not let, they have seen how going solo leaving numbers behind backfires. These are the men why Nelson's fortunes are failing, being reduced to a mere political silhouette of yesteryear. They will challenge him for the presidency at an opportune time like they did to Tsvangirai.

It is Compress not Oppress
The extra-ordinary congress is now behind, Madhuku has advised that despite the chaos, the congress was legally compliant. Mwonzora's work is clear-cut, he is the legitimate leader of the MDC-T which enjoys leadership of the MDC Alliance pact too. Mwonzora's work is to take the legitimate opposition party to POLAD and the negotiating table to address the economic doldrums that have affected millions of us. This has been in the public domain as MDC-T has been party to POLAD. If there was any shred of doubt, it has been put to rest today when the MDC-T President, Douglas Mwonzora announced the creation and appointment of a post to deal specifically with dialogue efforts. That process will involve and is set on moulding a political framework and arrangement to work together with government and its efforts to resuscitate the economy. It is wishful to think that any peaceful and vibrant political economy can ever be established in Zimbabwe without both the ruling and opposition parties coming to the table.

Mwonzora's work is to unite the party after the chaos that happened at the Congress this past weekend and he has taken immediate decisive action by announcing the appointment of Khupe as first Vice-President, and will also request the ratification from the National Council for Mudzuri's appointment as second Vice President of the party. Komichi has been retained as National Chair. This then completes the unity puzzle forestalling any chance of breaking up, and means the party will go into the POLAD dialogue with unity of purpose, which is critical. This compresses the MDC Alliance even further as all they will know is to bark from out in the cold, with no influence on real government processes. Most of their MPs were recalled and are contemplating on trekking back to the real MDC-T, now that they run the real risk of political extinction and irrelevance as what Biti did to Nkomo, Mangoma, the Madzores and others.

Mwonzora's work is clear cut too, by making sure that the MDC-T retains its status as the politically legitimate opposition party in the country not only on paper but on the ground. Whilst legally this has been achieved, a lot still needs to be done to compress the base, and throttle the Alliance's wishy-washy legitimacy claims which are legally incorrect and politically illegitimate, and ultimately gain favour of the numbers as the only viable alternative with real impact.  

Robert Sigauke is a Legal Manager and Political Commentator. He writes in his personal capacity from Johannesburg. He can be reached on

Source - Robert Sigauke, Political Commentator, Johannesburg
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