The MDC must renew itself before it is too late by Tanonoka Joseph Whande

Tanonoka Joseph Whande

Monday 17 February 2014

Reports about the manhandling of Elton Mangoma and Tendai Biti by MDC-T youths are extremely disturbing even to die-hard supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai himself.

Most worrying is that this not only happened at all but happened at the party’s national Headquarters in the party leader’s presence.

Whether Tsvangirai knew about it or not, whether he approved of it or not, that incident has sent a clear message to Zimbabweans that there is no place to hide and if we ever entertained the belief that we ditch ZANU-PF to run away from violence and intolerance then all our efforts over the past fifteen years have all been in vain.

For some time now, there have been muted calls for Tsvangirai to step down as leader of the MDC on account of the fact that he has failed to make a difference, having gone into presidential elections three times and coming out on the losing end every time.

Someone has described leadership as ultimately being about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen, and that effective leadership is the ability to successfully integrate and maximize available resources within the internal and external environment for the attainment of organizational or societal goals.

The ultimate goal of any party leader is to win the presidency of the country and turn their party into a ruling party. And Mr. Tsvangirai has failed dismally, whether or not the elections were rigged.

I keep wondering if Tsvangirai’s rank and file followers feel hopeful, elated and actually believe that Tsvangirai will weave some magical moves and become a real leader such as the long suffering people of Zimbabwe deserve.

Do they feel they have a leader worth their time?

I keep wondering if they feel as encouraged today as they did two days before the last elections.

Leadership is “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”.

Where does Mr. Tsvangirai stand? Has he shown any leadership qualities or he is in that position by virtue of the personal wars he fought before, getting people to mistake his bravery in the face of adversity for leadership quality?

Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”.

What common task has come from not only Mr. Tsvangirai but from the political party that he leads?

Has Tsvangirai justified any of the people’s optimism or has he regressed?

I am one of many people who have now come to terms with the reality that the MDC needs new leadership. Much as we might like him; much as we recognize his popularity, all these do not translate into success and the party needs success.

We cannot afford sentimentality; this is a serious situation and the party has to move on.

After decades of Mugabe’s awesome power of destruction and abuse, there were expectations that Tsvangirai and his party would bring better direction.

Sadly, the situation remains the way it was and Mugabe and his camp are more entrenched than ever before.

Over the past years, Tsvangirai has shown himself to be indecisive. His carelessness in personal conduct is cause for concern and so is the new direction the party seems to be taking.

He has failed to craft a philosophy that people can identify with and, indeed, there does not seem to be much difference between his party and any other except on implementation.

I feel cheated that all the support, optimism and expectations people had over the MDC have gone to waste and the people have nothing to show for it.

Firm, principled leadership should by now have emerged.

The heart of the matter is that it is time for the MDC to look for another more dynamic and forceful leader.

Admittedly, Mr. Tsvangirai has done his best but his best has not been good enough.

I pay tribute to Mr. Tsvangirai’s bravery, but that is a personal trait that has nothing to do with leadership.

Mr. Tsvangirai has done his part and it is time for him and the party to move on.

The MDC clearly needs new leadership to move it from the bane of personalized political parties. The fact that such an organisation is known by his name is itself an indication that the emphasis is no longer on the party but on the leader.

And that is a dangerous development as can be seen with the advent of internal violence.

Mr. Tsvangirai has, however, done the best he could.

It is not fair of MDC supporters to try to squeeze more out of him or to prop him up because the party and the supporters will not get anywhere. There is simply nothing left for him to prove to anyone; he has done his part and must be allowed to retire. He shall always remain as a symbol of a party that dared authoritarianism and repression to deliver the country to the people.

He shall remain to Zimbabwe and to the MDC as a brave founding president of the party, a party that still has possibilities.

It would be best if Mr. Tsvangirai were to volunteer rather than hiding behind the so-called grassroots in clinging on to the leadership.

The MDC itself has changed a great deal and I hope it does not fall into the same trap that ZANU-PF fell into when the party tried to fit the leader not the leader fitting the party.

It is not fair to block the door for aspiring young Turks who have ambition and ability to lead better than a current leader.

Tsvangirai only has to look at ZANU-PF to see how overstaying can destroy not only a leader but a party and, ultimately, a nation.

Leaders have to stay a step ahead of their followers, which is not the case in both the MDC and ZANU-PF.

Times move and changes come. People, like their politics and culture, are dynamic and change all the time.

I am mostly concerned about the MDC because, of all parties, people pin their hopes on it; it has a lot of support and had appeared to be the savior that the people were looking for.

The MDC must understand what they mean to the people and must take such responsibilities with the seriousness it deserves.

Public trust is essential and if they let the people’s trust in them get eroded, the MDC is going to end up like ZANU-PF and that would be a tragedy for the people who had put so much hope and expectations into it.

Responsible leadership does not mean a prolonged stay at the top. Some of the world’s best leaders spent only a couple of years at the apex of their organizations.

The MDC must reshuffle itself and shed the already creeping practice of marrying an individual to a party post.

It is time to pass the baton to the next runner.

The thuggery shown by the MDC-T at Harvest House is a clear indication of the absence of tolerance in Tsvangirai’s MDC party.

Those who have stood by the party now find themselves being made to choose between condemning what happened, and incite more of Tsvangirai’s wrath, or to keep quiet, thus giving tacit approval to the abominable act.

I have always regretted the simple fact of how the MDC has steadily been copying ZANU-PF’s way of behavior.

It is difficult to believe that what transpired at Harvest House was perpetrated by MDC adherents in Tsvangirai’s presence.

It is a shame and Tsvangirai has opened a new chapter to prove how much of a liability he has become to the party in whose hands so many millions, at home and abroad, put so much of their faith in.

The MDC must renew itself; it must renew its leadership and it must renew its covenant with the people if it is to remain relevant in its quest to save Zimbabwe.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday, February 17th, 2014.

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3 Responsesto “The MDC must renew itself before it is too late by Tanonoka Joseph Whande”

  1. Yepec says:

    Well said and very, very, relevant to the Zimbabwean situation.

  2. david taylor says:

    This violence and intolerance is a clear indication that the MDC-T is without a strong visionary leader.

  3. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    Although we usually do not share the same political views, I must admit that I agree with the 75% of your sentiments. If this was a mark for a dissertation or thesis at university, you could have got a first class even when you had waffled for the other 25%. I usually do not give a passing mark of this magnitude to anyone, not even some of your colleagues in the United Kingdom who should be more enlightened and better informed than you. You should be promoted and posted to London where I am sure you can be more useful and let of the hopeless elements currently in this metropolitan city transferred to Gaborone, in Botswana.

    Congratulations, Tanonoka Whande. You can be my hero if you write sense as this one.

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