By Rejoice Ngwenya
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is not “just another” political party. It is a pot-pourri of sub-cultures, attitudes, symbolisms and perceptions that coagulated against tyranny in
1999 when the lifeblood of Zimbabwean ubuntu/unhu was sapped of political oxygen and when a few citizens summoned enough courage to transfuse a spirit of rebellion into a nation that was progressively sinking into a state of resignation.
In a marketing context, this party is a popular brand that has swallowed up investments worth billions and sucked in millions in man-hours of human expertise oozing from an impressive array of academics, professionals, trade persons, business people, trade unionists and activists. The long and short of the scenario is that the chances of an expensively assembled brand being totally obliterated on the basis of change of executive guard are minimal.
In fact, as much as it would take a major human and corporate catastrophe to erase brand names such as Coca Cola, Microsoft and Nike from the marketing landscape, both the Herald and ZBC will have to pour billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money into a bottomless pit before their propaganda converts me to the illusion of inevitability of the death of political opposition in Zimbabwe.
My humble submission today is that the new struggle for self-determination in Zimbabwe is no longer about individuals, but the critical leverage of a swelling tide of anger and resentment bottled up in the masses, which will break the barriers through spontaneous rather than organised peaceful rebellion. In other words, ivory tower leadership will no longer bankroll the new struggle against dictatorship, but isolated pockets of community-based street action that will converge at some virtual rendezvous to drive out the oppressors. MDC, Zanu PF and UPM leadership may be caught in the “float-sum” of deflated lifeboats on high seas, eventually submerged and rendered totally dysfunctional at the hour of need.
I despise the views of armchair political analysts who interpret the current happenings in the MDC boardroom as a sign of imminent destruction of opposition politics. In managing a highly popular brand, executives worth their salt know that a change of leadership is not only necessary for corporate innovation, but has a way of inciting sustainability and longevity in marketing and promotional programs. When a chief executive departs from an organisation, this would not necessarily signal the demise of a popular brand. Therefore the ramblings and murmuring, contradictions and confrontations in MDC are pre-requisite for human resource distillation whose result is only one – an emergence of leadership purity.
The MDC brand is bigger than Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube. It is a summation of death, commitment, pain, tears and laughter. Aesthetically, this may be deceiving, but the benefits derived from using the brand go beyond the satisfaction of merely voting against authoritarian rule. It is, by nature, an act of defiance against a system that has lost all traces of humanity, a symbol of resistance, hope and faith that the end is nigh – acceleration towards the eviction from our political history of one of the most senseless dictatorships in the southern hemisphere.
To me, whether or not Tsvangirai, Ncube, Gift Chimanikire, Gibson Sibanda or Isaac Matongo is the leader is not the issue. The focus of the struggle has shifted from the stuffy boardrooms to the airy pastures, alleys, dual carriageways, stadiums and shopping malls. In any case, we now know that unlike Zanu PF, the purity of MDC’s internal democracy is symbolised by the dispensability of its leadership. It is mobility and usability that makes leading brands sustainable and this longevity is not, or more accurately, must not be mortgaged against personalities. Leading brands have lives of their own – lives that transcend the character and nature of their founders.
To say Bill Gates is Microsoft is to borrow from Jonathan Moyo’s myopic political catchall phrase that: “Land is the economy and the economy is the land”.
Therefore, in the interest of brand sustainability, MDC is not Tsvangirai, Ncube at all. MDC is a concept, a culture and tradition of resisting a largely gluttonous and self-serving dictatorship. In whatever name, by who’s ever leadership, justice and purity shall prevail over hegemony and tyranny.
Ubukhosi ngamazolo – chieftainship is like dew that survives only on the benevolence and generosity of the sun. As the crescendo of resistance raises the temperature around them, political misfits always destined to doom will evaporate like dew, but the ground under their feet will remain solid, only to nurture another seed of defiance. There is historical evidence that primitive African tribes used to fight and haggle over chieftainship, but this certainly did not kill the name! It was, is and will always be an acceptable fact of life that in the political jungle, only the fittest survive the contest for territorial control.
My message to the cadres of the new struggle against tyranny is to remain focused on the mission. Let the fire burn out the impurities because it is the only way this distillation process can produce purity. In the process of reclaiming our individual dignity that has been mutilated by a shameless dictatorship, amongst us new leaders will emerge, but this time they will be urging us from the rear. It will no longer be a case of them pulling strings, but merely responding to the tide of resistance.
In the 60s, 70s and 80s, it was acceptable to captain the team for thirty years, but modern-day Zimbabwean political consumers demand high utility-style leadership.
The final round demands new and improved tactics, new methodology that does not come with tinkering with the package, or simply changing signal tune. It boils down to the fans breaching the security walls, invading the field and puncturing the ball.
* Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based writer.