MDC leadership a shame to the nation

ON March 15 Justice Tendai Uchena of the Electoral Court nullified the results of the nominations for Chimanimani constituency. He argued that the presiding officer had not followed the correct procedure and had violated the la

w by rejecting Roy Bennett’s nomination papers to contest the March 31 parliamentary election on an MDC ticket because he was serving a prison term.

Justice Uchena thus postponed the election for Chimanimani constituency pending fresh nominations.

President Mugabe was livid. He told party and government leaders at a rally in the area the following day: “I don’t understand the court’s decision. We can’t be held to ransom by a man who is in prison. That is absolute nonsense. We will study the decision and appeal against it.”

He ordered electoral officials “to proceed as if nothing has happened” and Justice Uchena had to suspend his own ruling before an appeal.

We were reminded of this incident as we were trying to find the cinder that sparked the fatal inferno consuming the MDC. While the MDC national council did not constitute a court in its vote to contest the senate election, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai opted “not to understand” the majority decision and went on to lie about a stalemate.
There is self-evidently nothing for the people of Zimbabwe in Zanu PF’s decision to revive an institution it dismissed as a colonial relic 16 years ago. But the truth is that it has become a legal entity that has been established for the pleasure of Mugabe and will remain as such so long as he is in power.

It cannot be legitimised by the MDC’s participation in the November 26 poll — although that is what the ruling party is leading us to believe. What is depressing for most Zimbabweans is the costly fallout from Tsvangirai’s personal decision that the MDC doesn’t need a senate.

Zimbabweans clearly don’t need it as food and fuel shortages impact on a plundered fiscus. Tsvangirai did not need to trash his party’s constitution to make that point.

An ambitious leader who puts himself above the constitution of his party or country bears all the hallmarks of a future dictator, no matter what the political pretext for doing so. There is a huge difference between making rhetorical statements about democracy and the rule of law and living that reality. Anything else is no different from Mugabe reversing a judge’s decision and then claiming that Zanu PF “brought democracy to this country”.

What Tsvangirai and his supporters should have done was to launch a vigorous campaign against the senate the moment it was mooted by Zanu PF last year. That way he would have obviated the last-minute vote in which he proved himself to be a very sore loser, demonstrating very publicly that he has no respect for the principles of democracy and the rule of law — principles everybody believed distinguished the MDC from Zanu PF.

The whole world is dismayed by the infantile vituperative daily exchanges among the party leadership without one side seeming to have the upper hand. This at a time when it is clear to all that Mugabe and his party have absolutely no clue about how to pull the country out of the mire it has created. Is there to be no end to the current childish mudslinging that has enabled the state media to become a gallery of the absurd with MDC leaders discrediting themselves every day?

It is with a heavy heart that we watch the labours and efforts of so many committed Zimbabweans going to waste because of petty egos in the leadership. The leadership is wasting time scoring cheap points against each other when they should be fighting for democratic space.

It is important for the party to note that its fight should not just be for political power but for greater freedoms and protection of sacrosanct rights. The 1,4 million people who voted for Tsvangirai in 2002 (and the real figure was probably several hundred thousand more) did so partly because they believed the MDC would deliver on that front.
Those they entrusted to lead the fight have now abandoned the front to embark on factional politics.

Neither faction will emerge the winner after November 26. But the biggest losers will be Zimbabweans who have been betrayed by a political party that carried so many people’s hopes after the dark years of dictatorship. The MDC leadership appears intent upon copying all the bad habits of its enemy.

A leader who shreds his party’s constitution, allows his followers to go on the rampage against his perceived critics, and runs his party as a personal fiefdom cannot be trusted with the awesome instruments of the state.

Who wants another Mugabe after 25 years?

The next parliamentary election is five years away. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until then to see the wounds of this current division healed.

The MDC has set a shocking example of political behaviour to the nation — just when the country needed enlightened leadership. It will not be easily forgiven.

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