The regrettable public spat by the formations has left their major adversary, Zanu PF, in a stronger position in the current negotiations to break the impasse on the sticking points.
Reports abound that working relations between the two parties have deteriorated badly since the Maputo summit with the MDC-T taking potshots at the Arthur Mutambara-led party at every rally it holds.
Similarly, Mutambara has declined to cooperate with the MDC-T. The latest case being the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill where the MDC-M reportedly said it would not vote in favour of the proposed law alongside MDC-T. This forced Finance minister Tendai Biti to give in to Zanu PF amendments as he was staring defeat in the House of Assembly in the face without the support of legislators from the MDC-M.
Mutambara has confided in many people that whenever a Sadc summit is convened to deal with Zimbabwe’s political crisis, he has tried and failed to caucus with Tsvangirai to come up with a common strategy to confront Mugabe.
The MDC-T has accused its counterpart of siding with Zanu PF in Maputo, especially on assertions that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office is running a parallel government and is failing to denounce the continued imposition of sanctions on the country.
Tsvangirai’s party has also accused the MDC-M and Zanu PF of dragging their feet in resolving the outstanding issues within the timeframe set by the troika.
In a scathing press statement last Friday, the MDC-T said: “For two weeks Zimbabweans have waited in vain for the political gridlock to be unlocked. We note with concern that the body language from both Zanu PF and the Mutambara-led political outfit does not show sincerity and faithfulness to resolve the outstanding issues.
“The unelected negotiators from the Mutambara-led political formation, who by some chance have found themselves in government, are stalling
the resolution of Zimbabwe’s political crisis… Professor Welshman Ncube and Hon Priscillah Misihairabwi Mushonga have chosen to prioritise flying to world capitals at the expense of resolving critical issues that will deliver real change to the people of Zimbabwe.”
But Mutambara’s formation hit back and accused the MDC-T of delaying the talks.
The war of attrition is regrettable, but not surprising.
There is an infantile quality to the behaviour of the men and women who are supposed to be leading the struggle for change and that is a shame because many ordinary people trust them with their lives. It is regrettable because it shows them succumbing to the divide-and-rule tactics perfected for so long by their supposedly common adversary, Zanu PF.
But it is hardly surprising because these parties parted ways very acrimoniously in 2005 and all attempts to re-unite them so far have been in vain.
The relationship broke down irrevokably a long time ago and to expect them to toe the same line on all issues is wishful thinking. This division has worked in favour of Zanu PF, which despite its many internal problems, has remained resolutely united on the public platform.
Unlike the MDC formations, Zanu PF has long recognised that there is more that unites them than the issues that divide them.
This war of attrition hands Zanu PF a position of advantage when it already has stakes weighing in its favour.
Everyone would have thought that for parties that claim to be fighting for the democratisation of the country, they would have a common interest to protect against the main adversary that caused them to stand up and fight in the first place. An alliance of sorts would be strategic in the face of a very cunning foe.
But there is a hint of naivety on the part of the MDC formations — an unnecessary, almost childish tendency to engage in point-scoring while the nation suffers. Some individuals in both parties seem to have an unhealthy penchant for playing to the public gallery even when commonsense would require otherwise.
It is a shame because once again, they will both be outwitted by the party that sees itself as the boss of all bosses.
The MDC formations have joined Zanu PF in focussing on their own partisan agendas instead of the broader national interest. They have to decide now if they are for the people or for the trappings of power and its office.