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Leadership should provide direction

The Standard stated that the opposition was still trying to come to terms with how it could have lost an election that it was so confident of winning.

Business Da

y (SA) reported that Morgan Tsvangirai said that his party “was contemplating a boycott of parliament” and that “the issue is currently being debated in the party and a decision will be made in due course”.

A BBC News commentary claimed: “Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership is being questioned.” It was pointed out that when he addressed the press as results were coming in, he offered no clear path despite having accused the government of “fraudulently … betraying the people”.

“There still seems little direction to the MDC’s response,” commented the BBC.

The UK Sunday Times reported at length on growing discontent with this lack of response from the MDC’s leadership.

“We have to re-strategise from the grassroots,” said Tsvangirai. “Given our experience of the past five years, with 39 cases against the last elections still pending, we have no confidence in the judicial process. We were in parliament the past five years and the legislative process hasn’t helped us either. The only way forward now is political.”

He did not rule out mass action, though aides said he was thinking in terms of a one-day strike rather than a movement to bring down the government.

“It’s a total disappointment,” said Ian Kay, a white farmer who contested the seat of Marondera and was badly beaten when his farm was taken.

The critical thing is for the leadership now to provide direction. Many of the MDC candidates were disappointed.

“We discovered the leadership has no Plan B,” said one from Manicaland who, like many MDC activists, has suffered imprisonment, torture and has lost his job because of his political affiliation. “We are going away empty-handed. All this sitting around at tables achieves nothing. We should be talking regime change.”

Welshman Ncube, the party’s secretary-general admitted the results had come as a huge shock. “We knew they were going to do it, but we still hoped,” he said. “We had such amazing attendance at rallies with thousands of people that we started to think we could win.

“Obviously we now need to go back to the drawing board,” said Ncube.

“The majority of Zimbabweans are beaten, desperate and think it’s beyond their capacity to defeat this dictatorship. We have to decide how to react.” He ruled out mass action, pointing out that the party is committed to peaceful means.

“This is a completely different situation to Ukraine,” said David Coltart, the party’s legal affairs spokesman, referring to the “orange revolution” in which rigged election results were overturned by mass protests.

“What we need to do is maintain the morale of our supporters and wait for this edifice to crumble,” said Coltart. Such a restrained attitude was attacked by Pius Ncube, the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, who has been one of the bravest critics of Mugabe.

“The MDC should have had a Plan B,” he said. “Instead of going on being oppressed by the same dictator, why can’t the MDC think of a plan to get him out, to tell him: ‘We won’t let you bully us any more, shoot us if you want’. The MDC must act. They can’t expect people to act by themselves.”

This near universal consensus from the media, “if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen”, would seem to be the most appropriate advice for the MDC leadership at this time of dithering. Will the MDC leadership be remembered as heroic figures in the mould of Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King or latter day versions of Emperor Nero who “fiddled while Rome was burning”?

If the MDC has no Plan B as we are being told, the question has to be asked — what were they doing between the last fraudulent election and this one? The people of Zimbabwe deserve answers — and actions.

Everett Scott,


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