Comment: Ncube must cut to the chase

THE MDC held its congress last weekend and as expected Welshman Ncube was elected as the new party president.

While we congratulate Ncube, we feel that the changes are nothing short of window dressing which was made to satisfy personal agendas.

The changes which were couched as democracy at work through the transfer of the party leadership from Arthur Mutambara to Welshman Ncube were soon exposed for what they were in a NewsDay interview given by Ncube.

“Principals are principals and they are the leaders of the party,” he said. “That means that the principals that we have now are (President) Mugabe, (PM) Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube,” he said.

The pronouncements by Ncube clearly demonstrate that the congress is being used as an instrument to ensure his elevation to power and not in keeping with the tenets of democracy as they would want us to believe.

Ncube must come out clearly that he wants to be the Deputy Prime Minister and not pretend  he really wants Mutambara to continue in the job. In one instance he said that recalling was not part of the party’s culture and then in another breath said they could shuffle the party positions at any time. He should not take the nation for fools.

Instead of wasting time on doublespeak, he should be working on trying to breathe life into a party which has performed well below par as a political entity. Ncube must start to show that the MDC is more than just an extension of Zanu PF or a poor imitation of the MDC-T.

Arthur Mutambara’s reign as party leader has by and large been a failure. The miserable performance of the party under his tenure began in 2008 when Mutambara, Ncube, Trudy Stevenson and then party member Job Sikhala were trounced in the harmonised elections.

The party then expelled three of its legislators, Abedinico Bhebhe, Norman Mpofu and Njabuliso Mguni. The party failed dismally to have its candidate Paul Temba Nyati elected as Speaker of Parliament losing to the MDC-T chairman Lovemore Moyo.

Under Mutambara the party has endured continuous and embarrassing defections. This has been worsened by the comical antics of Mutambara himself. Who can forget “So help me …God?” at the swearing-in?

We cannot but agree with former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell’s assessment of Mutambara in a classified cable released by whistleblower WikiLeaks, in which he said: “Arthur Mutambara is young and ambitious, attracted to radical, anti-Western rhetoric and smart as a whip.  But, in many respects he is a lightweight who has spent too much time reading US campaign messaging manuals and too little thinking about the real issues.”
Mutambara was once quoted as saying that “there was method in his madness” after being appointed Deputy Prime Minister. After his tenure as party leader, we have only seen the madness.
Which is why Ncube should now focus on rejuvenating his party if they are to become relevant to the country’s political landscape.

His failure to have the name of the party changed from MDC to the Congress for the Movement of Democratic Change was hardly an encouraging start to his leadership.

This is aggravated by the threatened split within his party by a faction led by the former national chairman Joubert Mudzumwe which could prove to further weaken the wobbling outfit. The ability to handle the conflict and resistance within his party will be the first real test for Ncube.

He comes in at a time when they must win the hearts and minds of voters ahead of elections. It should be remembered that Ncube and Mutambara are in their positions as a result of the Global Political Agreement and not on the people’s mandate. Ncube lost to Thokozani Khupe in Makokoba and Mutambara lost in Zengeza West.

Ncube has said that they hold the balance of power in the inclusive government but if they do not turn the tide in the next elections, they will join the political scrapheap.

Given the enormity of the task ahead of him, drinking tea with Mugabe on Mondays should  not be the reason why he becomes a principal.

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