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When days are dark friends are few

“WHEN days are dark and nights are long and your faith is fading, look up there is a ray of light calling you by your name from above. He hears your cries and He feels your pain, help is on the way. Your best years are ahead of you.”


“When days are dark they are a prelude of many days of light that is just ahead of you. When days are darks, keep looking up and praying for the dawning of day in your life. God your Father will see you through when days are dark.”

These are words of Margaret C Mullings, an American songwriter and playwright with a great religious passion and appreciation for performing arts.

Anyone around the world going through a rough patch or difficult times would find such words encouraging even if they may not be religious.

One person who would probably appreciate such words of hope and encouragement at this point in time when he is down is MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who is going through a tough period after his recent crushing yet controversial election defeat at the hands of President Robert Mugabe.

While he is under pressure from inside his party and outside to concede defeat and resign, Tsvangirai seems determined to fight on even when days are dark and friends are few.

After an awkward situation in Mutare last weekend when he battled to rally his troops during the MDC-T’s 14th anniversary as he tried to turn mourning of defeat into celebrations, Tsvangirai on Tuesday moved to appoint a 21-member shadow cabinet consisting of senior party members to boost their morale.

He also threatened to recall MDC-T councillors who voted for Zanu PF mayors as he tried to stem possible party implosion.

“The party has a right to recall the councillors,” said Tsvangirai.

“They will have to answer to district councils whether they carried out the mandate they were given by the party. That information will be given to us as an executive next week and we will make a decision.”

Despite putting a brave face, there has been little to cheer in a week of unprecedented events in the party’s history when the MDC-T’s recently elected councillors voted for Zanu PF mayors on Monday. The defiant revolt by councillors who collaborated with their Zanu PF counterparts to subvert their party’s directives and the electorate’s will demonstrated all too clearly signs of a party at war with itself and facing possible disintegration.

So will Tsvangirai and the MDC-T weather the storm and survive defeat and the resultant internal strife? Will they live on as they did at the height of Zanu PF political repression and turmoil following the acrimonious 2005 split which resulted in the formation of the MDC wing led by former party secretary-general Welshman Ncube?

While acknowledging councillors’ action was an act of indiscipline, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora however downplayed the issue saying “the number of councillors who have done that is not significant at all”.

However, such a response is likely to be viewed as tantamount to burying one’s head in the sand or as an act of denial.

Soon after the July 31 polls, there were reports the MDC-T had plunged into political upheavals with the top leadership locked in serious infighting amid accusations and counter-accusations of who was to blame for the defeat. As a result, calls are still mounting for Tsvangirai to go, a dramatic reversal for him after he spent years shouting the now clichéd “Mugabe must go” slogan.

When the MDC-T national executive recently met for a two-day retreat at Mandel Training Centre in Harare for a post-mortem on elections, no one among the top leaders was spared blame, particularly organising secretary Nelson Chamisa whom colleagues say was largely responsible for the party’s disastrous performance.

There was even talk of a cold war between Chamisa and party secretary-general Tendai Biti, touted as two of the brightest prospects in the frame to take over from Tsvangirai in the future.

That is over and above the Tsvangirai-Biti rivalry.

To make matters worse, from his vantage point in self-imposed exile in Britain, MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett last week openly demanded Tsvangirai must go, the highest ranking party official to do so publicly yet even though many others are pushing for the same in private.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, academic and political analyst Brian Raftopoulos warned of looming MDC-T crumbling triggered by the election defeat, indicating latest developments within the party “are very real although that does not necessarily mean disintegration is inevitable”.

“Obviously there are real problems with the imposition of candidates which the party needs to deal with,” said Raftopoulos.

“But then again you are also going to find such behaviour after a huge defeat where opportunistic party members seek to curry favour for themselves with Zanu PF. Party elements will certainly pull in different directions.

Raftopoulos continued: “The leadership needs to honestly re-examine themselves and ask the honest questions concerning whether they are the best people to take the party forward and if they are, how they will need to re-organise the party structures for the next elections.”

Zimbabwe Democracy Institute chairperson Rashweat Mukundu said the MDC-T was gradually disintegrating as there is now a disconnect between the party leadership at Harvest House and lower structures.

“What the MDC-T now has are councillors who are independent of the party leadership,” said Mukundu. “But more importantly, the councillors’ revolt reflects a failure of leadership in the party.”

However, Tsvangirai remains defiant as he told the Independent on Wednesday he will stay put at the helm of the party despite growing demands for him to go.

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