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Is MDC fit to rule?

I KNOW my vote is my secret, if Zanu PF does not steal it. I am one of those Zimbabweans who were undecided whether to vote or not in the upcoming elections.

I have been pondering on what the March elections mean to an ordinary Zimbabwean suffering from cash shortages, lack of electricity, water, transport, housing and food. An economy that has been taken five centuries back with a collapsed health and education delivery system reducing every Zimbabwean into destitution and sending many into exile.The catalogue of tragedies suffered by Zimbabweans is endless. I had therefore come to the conclusion that a contest between a split MDC and Zanu PF was an exercise in futility and that the outcome of the elections was predictable. The elections would come and go and the suffering of Zimbabweans would continue unabated.

This time, votes stolen or not, after hearing that Simba Makoni has thrown himself into the race, I have decided that I am going to vote. But the decision of who I vote for like any other Zimbabwean has to be a very well-considered position based on facts and devoid of the emotional political rhetoric that characterises most discourse on Zimbabwe.

That Zimbabweans do not want Zanu PF, or specifically President Robert Mugabe, is not a point of contention or discussion. However, there are mixed emotions on the vote for the MDC which has largely been a vote against Zanu PF.

The MDC, largely seen as the party that made the first serious challenge to Mugabe’s power, may have many sympathisers and has earned respect for the many gallant fights that it has engaged with the Zanu PF government. They have been bruised and battered and have wounds to show for the struggle for democracy.

However, the elections this March will be a test for the MDC’s fitness for governance. We have proof that Zanu PF is not fit to govern and every Zimbabwean can testify to that.

I am then going to soberly ask the question: is the MDC fit to govern? This may be seen as a highly unfair and emotive question.

This reminds me of a boy-girl relationship. Head over heels in love, the girl marries the boy against the better judgement of the elders. While the elders saw it coming, she was too emotionally involved to see.

Such is the plight of many of us, being knee-deep in the political saga, all bruised and battered and emotionally charged to think rationally.

But the question is: how could the elders have known before the marriage was sanctified? What were the signs and symptoms that allowed the “elders” to see the future and predict it with such accuracy?

It will not last, they had warned the girl. But of course such advice had fallen on deaf ears.

If you were the political adviser on Zimbabwe, what would you be advising ordinary Zimbabweans to do with regards to the upcoming elections? Boycott elections or go and make their choices between Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Makoni?

It has been well argued that Zanu PF may have been effective as a liberation movement but did not have the capacity to govern and rule a nation. I think the same may apply to the MDC today.

While the MDC may have been at the forefront and championed the fight for democracy, the question must still be asked: is the party fit to govern?

The harsh reality is that while a grader may be allowed on the road to clear the way, once the path is cleared and the road tarred, it is not allowed to travel on the very same road that it charted. Such may be the plight of the MDC in the upcoming elections.

The issue is not whether the MDC should participate in elections or not. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t following a comedy of tragic errors in the Thabo Mbeki-brokered negotiations with Zanu PF and the self-centredness shown through the recent failure to unite the splintered Tsvangirai/Mutambara factions over a mere 20 seats in parliament.

Perhaps they do not understand the very democracy that they are fighting for. While Zimbabwe is burning, they haggle over 20 seats in parliament and are interested in protecting their positions. So what is the difference between them and Zanu PF?

I have warned already about the need to be brutal with facts and not be guided by emotions. An analysis of the MDC’s comedy of errors reveals a party leadership that is naïve, politically immature and obsessed with getting to State House as an end in itself.

Lack of clear leadership and capacity to take advantage of the many opportunities presenting in Zimbabwe for change have left me doubting the MDC’s capacity not only to dislodge the Zanu PF regime from power but also to govern. The MDC has earned itself the description of “a popular but largely ineffective opposition in Zimbabwe”.

The MDC and Zanu PF have failed to move the country beyond their differences and judging by how conflicts have gone elsewhere in Africa, the stalemate can last for decades while people on the ground are suffering.

Zimbabweans are caught between a rock and a hard place; a brutal dictatorial regime and an ineffectual opposition. So the “makonifactor” as I call it, unlike any other third-force factors in the form of small political parties, will give Zimbabweans something to think about in the polling booth. It is no longer either an MDC or Zanu PF situation in the presidential choices.

If we had to make an unemotional decision, who would you vote for on the basis of capacity and potential to bring about real change?

Most would vote with their hearts and not their minds in this instance and choose to reward Tsvangirai for the long battle against Mugabe. Much as we emotionally voted for.

By Maggie Makanza

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