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Candid Comment

When good intentions are not enough

By Joram Nyathi

TRUE must be the adage that roads which lead to hell are often paved with good intentions. Those in doubt can ask Reserve Bank gove

rnor Gideon Gono.

While Gono can blame his failures on lack of political will, in the MDC it is evident that good intentions alone cannot cure congenital ineptitude and greed for power.

The rupture in the MDC was bound to come given the less than auspicious circumstances of its birth. The different constituent parts of that amorphous body are coming apart, each embittered bit fighting for its pound of flesh from the benefactors. The clumsy handling of the fragmentation process by the leadership gives it a sense of calamity because a lot of false hopes had been raised about an imminent hour of redemption.

Imagine Save Zimbabwe Campaign with its 23 motley bits, each formed with a separate agenda and constituency, now all pasted together by the quest to heal the nation of corruption, cronyism, violence, restore the rule of law, the constitution and the voice of the majority, yet each required to maintain its original identity for the sponsor.

So I am personally not surprised by what is going on in the MDC. Civic society organisations made it clear they were fed up with the MDC leadership following the unanimous passing in parliament of Constitutional Amendment Number 18 by both the MDC and Zanu PF. That was also the culmination of their protests, spearheaded by NCA chair Lovemore Madhuku, over their exclusion from the inter-party talks between Zanu PF and the MDC.

Under a different set-up the break-up should have been a salubrious development for the MDC in its delayed evolution from a protest mass movement into a serious opposition political party. But I find it worrisome that after the flake peels off, there is no pith of revolutionary cadre left around whom to build a less repellent, more solid party. It starts and ends with a fascination with the persona of the leader.

The same leader who initially was supposed to be a symbol of the fight for democracy and the pillar of the party is the same person who has become impatient if not contemptuous of democratic procedures and the law. Democracy has been turned into an empty catchphrase to push disparate agendas masked as fighting Zanu PF political thuggery.

I will explain. When the real split occurred in the MDC on October 12 2005, official explanations were laden with tribal innuendo. Very few openly acknowledged the inappropriateness of the so-called kitchen cabinet. It was an unforgivable sin to impugn the leadership (It still is). It was as if Morgan Tsvangirai had not breached the party constitution. He had to be protected from foes who were colluding with Zanu PF to kill him.

There was nothing for the people in the senate, we were told. The “rebels” who had a different opinion for wanting to vote had to be “crushed”. The logic was that the end justifies the means even if those means were the very negation of the founding principles of the party. The leader said then that he was ready to let the MDC die than respect party rules in the outcome of the vote for or against the senate. “Democrats” supported his “logic”, but now feel “betrayed” because he has endorsed an even bigger senate without explaining what is in it for the taxpayer. Don’t expect change in the party that espouses change.

We have come full circle, yet I am alarmed at the flippancy with which the party constitution is viewed in the MDC. Those standing up in defence of Lucia Matibenga are less motivated by Tsvangirai’s violation of the constitution than they are worried about losing power, hence the perversion of the debate into a feminist war.

To me the message is that the leader of any opposition political party can break any principle or law with impunity so long as he claims to be fighting for democracy. Democracy is regarded in the MDC not as the core of the current fight against Zanu PF but as something incidental to a holier, nobler cause, which unfortunately political power can never be. How can anyone cynical of principles ever be sincere about democracy? It makes me sick.

There is a single thread running through all the sanctimonious pleas for peace in the MDC: everyone wants a share of the spoils when finally “change comes”. You support Matibenga or Tsvangirai depending on the perceived possible personal benefits, not because of any abiding ideals or principles either embodies.

Then there is the culture of violence. I hear there were physical clashes in Bulawayo last week where the kitchen cabinet mutated into a restaurant committee to elect Theresa Makone to replace Matibenga. This is a boon for Zanu PF.

I understand some MPs had their heads bashed at Harvest House for expressing sympathy for embattled Matibenga, now a persona non grata at the Nelson Mandela Avenue (God protect his good name from being sullied) MDC headquarters. Another boon for Zanu PF coming just before crucial election.

Then there were threats of further violence at the same venue where members of the national executive committee were supposed to meet on Saturday to put a final seal on Matibenga’s fate. I understand they were forced to move the meeting to a safe venue in Marlborough to escape their violent followers. These are the same people trying to convince the world they may boycott next year’s harmonised presidential and parliamentary elections because of Zanu PF violence. Some violence; some democracy. Viva Zimbabwe!

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