This opinion piece is prompted by Pedzisai Ruhanya’s article in the Zimbabwe Independent last week headlined “Tsvangirai-Ncube pact game-changer” in which he urges forces opposed to President Robert Mugabe to form a coalition in the next general elections.
By Benjamin Chitate
The fact that politicians and analysts continue to wish for a united front against Zanu PF in the coming elections proves that unity of purpose is a noble idea.
However, the unity being called for remains wishful thinking for as long as MDC leader Welshman Ncube is not interested in such an arrangement.
The best way is to leave it to the people to decide, even though analysts and commentators should be allowed to continue wishing and hoping.
My humble opinion though, is that it is Ncube who is the stumbling block to any efforts to unite the two parties. Some years back, before Arthur Mutambara was dethroned, Ncube and the late Gibson Sibanda addressed a rally at which the two took turns to tell the people that the 2008 mistake of supporting Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba Makoni’s presidential bid will never be repeated because the people of Matabeleland will have their own candidate standing in the elections.
That seems to have stuck into Ncube’s head, even though he knows any unification talks or negotiations around a united front will suggest MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai as the candidate.
All Ncube wants to prove therefore is that a Ndebele candidate can win enough votes to spoil the chances for Tsvangirai and retain Mugabe in power.
In Ncube’s heart and mind, he doesn’t mind Mugabe ruling for life, and hopes that by the time Mugabe dies, his party will have grown enough to take over.
The argument by the MDC led by Ncube today for refusing to engage in a coalition with anybody is that their 2011 congress resolved that the party will field its own candidate in elections which were then expected to take place in 2011 as if the so-called resolutions were cast in stone.
A closer analysis of the same resolutions will show that Ncube had been singing the same tune well before the congress.
I had a discussion with a few colleagues from the “MDC-Green” — a discussion which was balanced and they did not want to blame anyone, but the ego and selfishness displayed by leaders from both parties. To use one of the colleagues’ words: “Our problem (me and you) is that we are victims of our leaders’ selfishness and egos. Imagine how strong the MDC would be if we were still a single force. It’s so sad. But mark my words, one day we will get there and one day we will be a united force and this country will be better.”
One of them blamed it all on Ncube whom he accused of being rigid. I completely agreed with this opinion from within the rank and file of MDC-Green because Ncube himself had told me several times in e-mails or Facebook exchanges that his party will not move from its congress resolution to field its own presidential candidate.
The last time Ncube shared his position on a possible coalition with me was on January 3 this year when he said in a Facebook message to me: “This year I have absolutely no intention of participating in any debate to do with coalitions.”
This is evidence of the difficulties in the practicalities of forming a pact which Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, David Coltart and Tendai Biti alluded to in the past — Ncube is just not interested, even though some in his own party are.
On his part, Tsvangirai has publicly said he is willing to engage with other pro-democracy forces which are willing to work together to defeat Mugabe, and the same position has been stated by the MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora and several other officials.
But the Ncube camp’s resistance is based on the fact that the MDC-T changed positions after an initial agreement between the negotiators on the allocation of seats to be contested in the 2008 elections, a position that I find childish.
Childish because that decision to review the allocation of seats was made by the MDC-T national executive and national council, whose mandate was to give the final approval of things that had been agreed in negotiations. So, did the then MDC-Mutambara (MDC-M) expect the MDC-T national executive and council to just rubber stamp the agreement without giving an opinion?
And the 2008 elections proved the MDC-T right because the results proved the fact that the negotiators had been more generous to the smaller of the two MDC parties.
Had the MDC-M accepted the MDC-T position, more of their officials, including Mutambara and Ncube themselves, would have been elected into parliament, and probably some of the 8% votes that Makoni got could have been in the united MDC’s favour.
True, Tsvangirai may have won an outright victory in 2008 if the parties were united, but that was not to be because of ill-informed decisions by the MDC-M, in which Ncube as the secretary-general was a major player.
Now it is up to those in MDC-Green who really believe in a united front against Zanu PF to do what their consciences tell them to. The problem seems to be that some of them fear Ncube for his education.
Ncube’s stance exposes him as an unreasonable and unforgiving man.
As said by one MDC-T official in a recent exchange, if Ncube had facts to prove that the MDC-T was insincere in the 2008 negotiations those are the facts he could have brought to the negotiating table, but he knows very well that the MDC-T’s review of allocation of seats was vindicated by the election results themselves.
So the easiest thing for him to do is to blame MDC-T and Tsvangirai for the 2008 failure to form a pact.
Ncube himself knows very well that Zimbabwe is better off without Mugabe, and that Tsvangirai is the only person at the moment with the greatest chance of beating Mugabe in an election, having done so in 2008, but he cannot stand the idea of helping him (Tsvangirai) to the throne.
The biggest mistake Ncube and those within his party encouraging him not to entertain hopes of a coalition is that they are failing to read the mood of the people calling for a coalition and think these calls are coming from people who think Ncube’s support base is growing.
One of Ncube’s aides wrote: “The panic around the whole country as well as in the diaspora around this quest for reunification tells us there is something that we are doing right and the MDC-T people are afraid that their horse will lose this election again.”
My conclusion is that because of his personal hate for Tsvangirai, Ncube has cleverly played around the ignorance among his fellow colleagues in the party to promote his personal agenda as evidenced by his mobilisation of people to support a congress resolution he wanted and then treating the same resolution as if it is cast in concrete.
Chitate writes from New Zealand.