By Khumbulani Vodloza Sibanda
The MDC has been going round and round in circles heading nowhere, in a case of chasing one’s tail. To this end that party has not achieved anything meaningful. Its existence now depicts a circle of despair where there is virtually nothing to point at as the successes of the 20-year old party.
The formation of the MDC in 1999 was characterised by coming together of professionals in all fields who looked good on paper. Despite this overload of gurus, the MDC’s clarion has been “Mugabe Must-go”. For years it has not offered anything to the electorate except to call for former President, Robert Mugabe to go. With his demise, the MDC has adopted that mantra on to his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
If one was to ask the MDC where, it wanted these constitutionally-elected leaders to go, the party would not have a convincing answer.
In order to maintain some form of relevance, the MDC holds rallies here and there and lie to the people that they will soon give them an action signal to remove the President from power using baseless violent and destructive protests. To this day no signal has been sent. The MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa has done nothing to show that he is an able leader. The promise of a signal for protests is Chamisa’s way of covering up for his lack of sound political mettle. Since taking over from the late MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai there is nothing to show that as a member of the young generation he has direction. He is, instead, going round in circles as if lost in a rondavel.
It is now two years after Tsvangirai’s death and the MDC still has no solid footing despite all the promises and the so called “scientific organising” which Chamisa boasts of. The MDC continues to bite the dust during main electoral editions and by-elections.
Witchdoctors and prophets
The MDC leadership does not cease consulting witchdoctors and prophets. They have taken to consulting these people in order to establish their elusive future political fates. When Tsvangirai’s political star was fading he resorted to consulting spirits, seers and the so-called prophets and this took him to perform night rituals at Mukuvisi waterfalls in Harare’s Waterfalls suburb.
In a bid to improve his chances of winning the 2013 presidential election, he visited the Nigerian, TB Joshua in Nigeria but he went on to lose the poll. It is interesting to note that the seer wrongly predicted the United States 2016 presidential election and two years earlier he had failed to foresee the collapsing of a church property which killed many people. The kind of people that the MDC looks up to for electoral victory speaks volumes about the calibre of its leadership.
As if picking a cue from Tsvangirai, Greenwich Ndanda who was gunning for that party’s Mashonaland West Provincial Chairmanship died in the Nigerian mishap while consulting TB Joshua.
Without learning anything from these episodes, in March 2019, Chamisa took a trip to Ghana which many concluded was a visit to the fetish prophets of that region to “strengthen” his stranglehold of the party in view of serious contenders such as Douglas Mwonzora and one of the party’s excitable vice presidents, Tendai Biti ahead of MDC May 2019 congress. As much as Chamisa loves the media, he has never disclosed the details of this particular trip to members of the fourth estate to this day. Despite his love for cameras, no image capturing the event has been leaked into the public domain to date.
No reforms, no elections
After suffering a series of electoral defeats at the hands of ZANU PF, Tsvangirai formed the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (NERA) as a vehicle to call for electoral reforms and adopted the mantra “Without reforms, no elections”. The party at some point planned to boycott the 2018 harmonised elections if its demands for electoral reforms were not met.
After Chamisa also tasted defeat, has now adopted the same mantra “no reforms no 2023”. When he was cornered following his numerous trips to South Africa in late January 2020, he hinted boycotting the 2023 elections.
Surprisingly, the MDC’s senior members spent five years in the GNU and they were busy gallivanting and enjoying the trappings of being in government and never pushed for any electoral reforms. When Justice Rita Makarau was appointed ZEC Chairperson, the MDC celebrated and they went to the 2013 election with the slogan “Let’s finish off ZANU PF”, but they lost the poll by a wide margin. Just because they lost Justice Makarau became an enemy in their own eyes and they accused her of being a proxy for ZANU PF. One can see that each time the MDC loses an election they will not accept defeat and choose to apportion blame on other people.
Poorly-crafted election manifestos
The MDC, since the days of Tsvangirai, have been crafting election manifestos which do not resonate with the people’s expectations. Two of these manifestos clearly bring out this point and these were the Jobs, Upliftment, Investment and Environment (JUICE) document of 2013 and the Sustainable, Modernisation Agenda for Real Transformation (SMART) document of 2018. The electorate failed to understand these manifestos because they wanted their bread and butter issues to be addressed and not fancily named manifestos. The party’s then secretary general, Biti was to admit in 2014 that JUICE was poorly crafted.
Security sector reforms
After losing one election edition after another, the MDC in its lack of wisdom thought the security sector was behind ZANU PF’s electoral success. Tsvangirai started to make noise about security sector reforms. Now Chamisa has also taken up the trumpet and is pressing for the same reforms. The party has failed to prove its allegation of security sector influence in elections.
The MDC is failing to put its house in order and choosing not to take stock of how and why they lose elections. The MDC thinks it is a “party of excellence” and based on that assumption they think people should vote for them without sweat. The electorate asks what really has the MDC done for the people that they should vote for it? The answer is nothing; hence they have decided to stay with ZANU PF. If anything in the 28 urban local authorities that the party dominates, the quality of life has nosedived due to poor service under its lackadaisical watch.
Courting traditional leaders
During the Government of National Unity, MDC Co-Vice President, Tendai Biti who was the Minister of Finance vowed that Chiefs should not be allocated vehicles and should live in villages alongside their subjects. After losing the 2013 harmonised elections, Tsvangirai in 2017 embarked on a whirlwind of rallies which also targeted luring traditional leaders to their side. It is clear that the MDC warming up to dethroned Chief Ndiweni with the view to use him to gain political mileage in Matabeleland region where Chamisa is fast losing popularity.
When President Mnangagwa started his national cleanup campaign in December 2018, the MDC dismissed that programme as a waste of time. Surprisingly the MDC is now embarking on the same clean up exercise dubbed “Tsvairai Zimbabwe (Clean up Zimbabwe).” As if that was not enough, MDC Harare Provincial Assembly Chairperson, Wellington Chikombo has announced that his party is mobilising food aid for distribution in the rural areas alongside ZANU PF in a bid to lure voters.
“If ZANU PF is giving people rice in rural areas, we will be also be parking our trucks side by side dishing out our aid to the people also,” said Chikombo.
These are signs of a party lacking sound leadership and initiative. They are indications of a party without sound fundamentals to win in a major election. It is, therefore, bound to continue in its losing ways for the foreseeable future.