For a few months tensions have been brewing in the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe’s major opposition party. Soon after the lost elections, Roy Bennett hummed some discontent before vanishing from social networks, ostensibly to get into private business as his family needed to “eat”. I took this with a pinch of salt but accepted it as a possibility, living in exile for a seemingly lost cause can cause one to give up. However a few months if not days after the said walk away, his name began to be fingered among a clique who wanted Morgan Tsvangirai to go, soon Elton Mangoma was writing letters for Tsvangirai to go until he got suspended then fired. This culminated in the Mandel Training Centre meeting which is where we are. So what is happening here? Wither the Movement of the People? I will try to unpack the mystery as I see and from the perspective of a bystander.
Splits – A History of Our Politics?
Zimbabwe politics is fraught with splits even from the days of the liberation struggle, what began as ZAPU ended up as ZANU, ZANUPF and ZAPU et al. Those in the know will tell you the reason for the forming of ZANU was because Nkomo was too weak and did not make decisions timeously or impose the same firmly. More interesting was the notion that ZANU formation was a result of infiltration by Rhodesian people to influence direction or put the struggle in jeopardy. Looking at history, we can almost see a repeat of what happened then, MDC was formed, it split into several parts, most failing to gain support and going under. It is also worthy of note Joshua Nkomo was a trade unionist the same with Morgan Tsvangirai, both are accused of not being able to make decisions quickly or as being weak figures. There were strong & decisive communist/socialists among ZANU though notably Josiah Tongogara & it is no accident he had to die, with hindsight, borrowing the wisdom shared by Strive Masiyiwa, Nkomo’s lack of rash decisions led to formation of one of Zimbabwe’s leading indigenous companies Econet Wireless. I am sure those who lived to see events of the 1960s are having a Deja-Vu kind of feeling looking at what is happening in Zimbabwe. From hereon I will explain the issues and forces I see at play in Zimbabwe politics:
The Capitalist Hand/Donor
The chorus is that the donors no longer want Morgan Tsvangirai at the helm of the party, this culminated in Mangoma putting together an exit package for Morgan, prior to that it was mooted that Morgan would step down and become like a Mandela for the party. The exit package and the Mandela proposal didn’t work to much chagrin from those pushing it. So other means had to be devised, the announcement that Morgan has been suspended could be a last effort at enforcing the way of the donor community. With a cursory look, it is evident the donor and the capitalist is the same hand. Ian Smith declared UDI in 1965 meaning Rhodesia was no longer a part of British territories, a feat only managed by United States prior. Now think on this, if Rhodesia was at war with ZAPU/ZANU, why was there a need to have a Lancaster Agreement? Was there a need for Britain to be involved in the affairs of a now sovereign state? What was in it for them? It is clear that Britain was no longer on the side of Ian Smith but was now firmly behind the liberation movement. We all know that after independence the relationship between Zimbabwe and Britain was a good one or else Prince Charles would not have visited and Mugabe knighted. So the donor’s hand was at work, forget the “one man, one vote” mantra, war was fought for resources but resources is not what our black brothers came from Lancaster preaching, it was a new tune. Remember, “Whoever pays the piper, calls the tune”.
|The Struggle Is All About The People, They Own It|
Tendai Biti Walking in Mugabe’s Footsteps?
If donor sentiment is to be considered, Tendai Biti was the rightful candidate to succeed Morgan Tsvangirai just as Mugabe was anointed to take over at independence. Then it was Edgar Tekere making manoeuvres, today we see Elton Mangoma doing the same. Just as Mugabe was hesitant to take over fearing a backlash from the guerrillas, we also saw Tendai Biti sitting on the fence for a long time, his hesitancy was palpable. But Mangoma did not have the wit of Edgar “Two Boy” Tekere and unlike back then where the masses had no say, this time the Zimbabwe populace has a voice. What we are seeing unfold is not entirely surprising, this by all accounts seem to be a well worked out plan with option A, B, C or D. I remember Lindiwe Zulu tried so much to push MDCT negotiators Biti and Mangoma to put ZANUPF on the ropes, she was frustrated to the point of almost becoming a negotiator on behalf of MDCT which raised the ire of Robert Mugabe.
When Tendai Biti opened a facebook page many of us welcomed the initiative, but as posts began to get confused. I particularly took exception to the way Biti wrote, it was as if he was speaking to someone else, not the multitude of fans who were following. The language used was not for the layman unless one had to read with a dictionary on hand. One thing that stood out from my perspective was Biti’s eagerness to rope in World Bank, IMF and others such into the scheme of things, I took it up with him that he was overly trying to please the Bretton Woods institutions overlooking home grown investment solutions for our economic problems, he did not take this constant enquiry too well, I was blocked. Now I ask myself, was his facebook page a project to endear himself to the West that I can represent your interests above anyone else or better than the Trade Unionist. My supposition is buttressed by Biti’s penchant for policing the page, any negative comment or criticism was quickly being removed, on his last page post dated 10 March 2014 he must have deleted in excess of 400 comments from irate supporters. While Mugabe’s ascendancy was smooth, that of Biti is looking murky even himself was not sure. But those who seek their way seem to be pushing him all the way. Those who say Biti seems to have lost weight are right; these are probably the most gruelling times of his political career.
The ZANUPF Connection
We all know it takes a pride of lions to bring down a giraffe, but the hunter does not get to enjoy the spoils alone. Vultures, hyenas, jackals and all manner of scavengers join the party. So the donor’s party has been gate crushed, ZANUPF with spooks on its side could have trailed the hunt waiting. When the Mangoma fiasco was unfolding, I looked for a few people whom I had bet would fall on the MDC Team’s side. These are the vultures that eat, sleep and live opposition slogans and in the dead of night sell all the information. Most people think ZANUPF being fingered in abuse of state security is a stretch of imagination but these are the type of people who can work for you as a gardener earning top dollar just to eavesdrop on you. They are as much a part of this and I imagine the courts are waiting to play ping pong on MDCT like they did with Welshman Ncube as a pawn. Biti is also the legal representative of Gideon Gono making cheap money from the donors and also from the regime. Could he and Gono be lining up to take over as a super faction of ZANUPF? This would not amaze me, Mai Mujuru and Emerson Mngangagwa can be left in the cold after all the years of fighting to get in.
Way Forward, The People Way
At this juncture, MDCT needs to make a smart decision. Already Biti has approached parliament and chances are he is hoping to take it into a long drawn legal battle right up to 2018. MDCT does not need this, when a man has sold out, he cares little about the people. Now is the time for Morgan to start rebuilding and spend less energy on trying to get into a spat with Biti. He has a chance to bring freedom with no strings attached, no donor terms & conditions like Mugabe was handed at Lancaster House. Zimbabwe has its human capital to look to; Morgan and those close to him must now think creatively on how to have the movement funded by the people and make this all about the people, no more balancing act of trying to please donors. Like the way it began, MDCT can regroup and make it about the people. If Zimbabweans want freedom badly then they must be willing to fight for it with their sweat and their meagre income but among Zimbabweans there is sufficient sources to buoy the struggle. They must let Biti and the donors walk. Freebies come at a heavy price later on. The examples of Uganda and Malawi getting Balance of Payment support withdrawn shows how much donors can enslave a nation, even ZANUPF is failing to pull the nation forward, they have begged left, right and centre mortgaging the resources for a pittance. Now is the time for Zimbabwe to chart its own destiny and build from ground up, if we must be prepared to walk alone and leave the African mentality of bending over to please donors behind.