MDC-T is not as popular as it once was

Tanonoka Joseph Whande says, “It is time for the MDC-T to cut ties with ZANU-PF .”

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Everybody knows that Zimbabwe is barely coming out of the doldrums.

Long into the existence of the Unity Government, our currency became heavily dependant on the South African Rand, with the Botswana Pula in assistance, until Finance Minister Tendai Biti invited the US dollar into our financial tier, boosting our bastard currencies to three: the USA dollar, the South African Rand and the Botswana Pula.

At that time, August 2010, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said that progress had indeed been observed in areas of economic resuscitation, although we were still far from where we should be in terms of addressing economic recovery and growth and investment.

“When it comes to issues around democratization, such as the constitution-making process, the rule of law or the return of democratic institutions, there has not really been much improvement and not as much consistency and determination to deal with the issues of reforming institutions and instilling a better culture of respect for human rights.”

August 2012, we still say the same.

In the 2000 parliamentary elections, the nine-months-old MDC won 57 of the 120 seats up for election, a great achievement that finally showed the vulnerability of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.

What I found interesting about this particular performance by the MDC was that they achieved this feat with very little room to campaign as the ruling party had been wisened up after suffering a defeat during the constitutional referendum held four months earlier, in February 2000.

ZANU-PF was so confident that they did not bother with their usual rigging of elections and they were surprised and so was everybody else, including Morgan Tsvangirai, before his popular party split.

Since the formation of the MDC in 1999, there was evident enthusiasm for the party and support came from all corners, including farmers, students, civic groups, professionals and progressive people who felt that they had had enough of Robert Mugabe and his corrupt ZANU-PF.

From where I sat, it appeared to me that since the MDC had not had the full opportunity to campaign, particularly in the rural areas, the people, both in towns and the outskirts, voted more against ZANU-PF than for the MDC because the MDC’s political philosophy was not really known by the people.

Sadly, even today, the MDC-T seems to wrap itself under the abstract labels of “democratic socialism, social democracy”,  meaningless nonsensical jargon that appeals to both capitalist and socialist governments abroad.

The lack of espousing a particular, clear ideology and, for whatever reason, the failure to promote its policies among the rank and file have made many supporters to take a more careful look at the MDC-T.

Add to that the fact that the party took an almost unilateral decision to be partners with Mugabe in the so-called unity government. Without consulting the people, they accepted responsibility without authority and, to me, this is when ingredients of dissatisfaction were gathered.

At first, the MDC-T almost always blamed everything bad on Mugabe and his ZANU-PF, saying they were hindering the MDC-T from implementing its good policies. But, at the same time, Tsvangirai and his party almost always claimed responsibility for any positive thing that came out of this unity government.

As time went on, it looked like MDC-T had deepened its desire to accommodate Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

The MDC went out of its way to keep Mugabe and ZANU-PF appeased. The MDC-T never said much but, instead, always waited to react to whatever ZANU-PF did or said without offering a clear serious alternative.

Even today, we are hard pressed to understand what the MDC-T really stands for except that, it appears, they want to do what ZANU-PF has been doing but in a more humane way…I think.

Come to think of it, there is not a single party in Zimbabwe today that offers clear cut alternatives to ZANU-PF policies or how to achieve them.

Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, who happens to be MDC-T’s Secretary General, appears to be wasted in this party. Biti is not only outperforming his party president and Prime Minister but is outperforming the whole cabinet and the presidency.

Remember it was Mugabe who told Tsvangirai not to fire Biti when Tsvangirai and his dubious kitchen cabinet wanted to get rid of Biti.

Deny it as they may, there are as many factions in the MDC-T as there are in ZANU-PF. And, as always, the hangers on with interest in self are the ones Tsvangirai listens to.

It is obvious that while people want to see Tsvangirai safe and comfortable, a reward for what he went through to get where he is today, they also want to see him fight for them as much as he did when he was an almost non-descript and underestimated trade unionist before the formation of the MDC.

Times have changed since the unity government was formed.

People got to see not only how the MDC-T performs but what leadership qualities Tsvangirai has.

Time after time, people were disappointed because Tsvangirai had become part of a government they did not trust, because time after time, the MDC-T did nothing more than just react to ZANU-PF.

Having accepted responsibility without authority, the MDC-T found itself unable to do anything without the permission of the party they had defeated, a party that had killed so many of their compatriots.

Freedom House, whoever they are, say a poll they conducted shows that although about 47 percent of potential voters they spoke to said they did not want to reveal their political opinions, their survey found that “the MDC-T’s level of support dropped from 38 percent to 20 percent in the last 18 months, while support for ZANU-PF went up from 17 percent to 31 percent in the same period”.

This, of course, is rubbish.

Freedom House says it talked to only 1, 198 people.

In other countries, such surveys are taken seriously by political parties or organisations because they offer some glimpse, however minute, of the trend.

People there have the advantage of free speech, little intimidation.

But in Zimbabwe, a nation imbued with so much political violence and fear, especially of talking about anything political to even a relative, let alone a stranger, such a poll, in my opinion, is highly misleading.

While I find it difficult to accept Freedom House’s rather over the surface survey, I do, however, accept the general direction because it is obvious and clear that the MDC-T’s popularity has taken a bad knock since they joined Mugabe’s government.

The heart of the matter is that, once again, Zimbabweans have little to choose from.

They don’t want ZANU-PF; that’s for sure. But now they are not as confident about the MDC-T either. They won’t go to ZANU-PF but they are wondering about the MDC-T.

Obviously, the MDC-T is not as popular as it once was. They may scoff and laugh at that poll but Tsvangirai and his group must sit down and think and come up with a better approach to exist.

The mere suggestion, however flimsy, that Mugabe might be getting a sympathy vote at the expense of decent political alternatives should worry the MDC-T.

Tsvangirai and his people must stop taking people for granted and must listen to the people.

They must act under people’s orders.

They must cease to be part of a ZANU-PF group.

People want to see a difference. The MDC-T must find better allies because however you want to look at it, any alliance with ZANU-PF already takes away most of what the people do not have.

One plus zero is one.

If MDC-T still wants to be worthy a single point they should never have come into cohorts with ZANU-PF. We are lucky we got so far.

It is time for the MDC-T to cut ties with ZANU-PF not only for its own sake but for the survival of the people and the nation.

Tsvangirai and his MDC-T must know that there is absolutely nothing our country can benefit from ZANU-PF.

We are watching, elections are on the way, aren’t they?

The MDC-T better be warned that they took the wrong path and they better make amends pronto.

ZANU-PF is not and was never an ally.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my compatriots, is the way it is today, Thursday, August 23, 2012.

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