Tsvangirai mustn’t preside over yet another MDC split

Cornered and confronted by his assassin, Ernesto “Che” Guevara challenged his killer to go ahead and shoot him, telling the man to go ahead and shoot because he was only killing a man not an idea.

Tanonoka Joseph Whande

Ideas. Ideas. Ideas!

Zimbabwe’s political landscape is littered with phonies — leaders with no ideas.

Our politicians have proved to be mediocre far beyond the minimums expected of people who lead people.

Our politics is submerged in poverty of ideas; is in the depths of averageness and has total absence of originality. All of our leadership, regardless of party affiliation, is more concerned with lining their pockets in total disregard of their roles as elected civil servants.

Poverty of civic responsibility and a mediocre sense of purpose characterise our politicians. They are, in every sense, like lactating mothers who suckle their own breasts at the expense of their expectant infants.

I scan the horizons of Africa and I see a common yarn across the continent, a disgusting thread of continental intolerance to such an extent that people form political parties not driven by civic responsibility but by a desire of ownership.

Indeed, to this day, we continue to mistake party leadership with party ownership.

What is Zanu-PF without Robert Mugabe?

What is PF-Zapu without Joshua Nkomo?

My compatriots, please, tell me if it is disgusting or not to talk about MDC-T or MDC-N?

Ndabaningi Sithole died with his Zanu Ndonga and so did Joshua Nkomo with his Zapu. All the party leaders who came after them are viewed as usurpers, charlatans who try to suckle from the breast of an old cow instead of finding their own pasture and source of milk.

We are corralled in a pool of leadership poverty and in a barren circle of governance. We are submerged in such poverty of guidance that our leaders become leaders by simply forcing people to just follow…offering no ideas or ideology to die for.

Our leaders force us to follow them on non-existent ideologies; they do not lead but force us to follow them on a path with no destination while we cannibalise ourselves along the way to a destination we will never reach because we aim to reach no destination; we just want to follow someone.

We just follow even though our so-called leaders have their eyes on their buttocks rather than on their foreheads.

Which of our leaders, past and present, ever had an idea that outlived them, like Che aptly put it to his killer?

To this very day, there has not appeared any political party as effective as Zapu, in terms of voluntary grassroots support.
The key word is voluntary.

Zapu, which was born out of several dead political organisations, became a unified symbol of resistance and agitator for change. The unity of purpose, espoused in the formation of Zapu made a big impact on Southern Rhodesia’s political landscape.

The reason Zapu was so effective is that it was the only major party challenging the status quo and if there were any tribal overtones, they were not a major force in the life of a political party that was challenging colonialists with thousands of voluntary supporters who sacrificed everything because of a sense of belief and conviction but not for personal gain.

Then there came a split and formation of another party called the Zanu, the personalising of party leadership began in earnest.
I am saddened by the situation in the MDC today. It is not an overestimation to say that the MDC wasted people’s time because what is happening in that party is exactly what it was formed to stop.

There is no doubt that the MDC is dead, what with talk of a split and all. A split is like a compromise, no one gets what they wanted but, maybe, half of what they wanted and that is not good enough.
American presidents step aside and respect their successors. Now even Popes do the same. But not African presidents or leaders.
I find it astounding that Morgan Tsvangirai prefers to bulldoze his way into permanent party leadership the way he is doing. Is he not thankful that the people respected him enough to give him three chances to take the party to higher lofts and he failed at each one of them?

Does Tsvangirai prefer to see his party fade and die because of his insistence to stay at the helm?

Whether or not there are people in his party agitating for his removal is immaterial. Why does he, on his own accord, not make it easier for the party and the people by simply stepping aside instead of causing such disunity in his party?

Whether we like it or not, Tsvangirai will never ever be any more than what he has achieved. He did his part and he should thank the electorate and stand down because there is nothing more for him to prove.

It is so sad to ask people to tolerate this rubbish and to make them choose whether or not to stand by him. Now Tsvangirai is making all other people seem ungrateful for his sacrifices.

The violence within the party is a shame. The beating up of party leaders at party headquarters in Tsvangirai’s presence is no less a shame than sleeping with one’s own mother.

The bombings of party elders’ homes are human excretion thrown on the kitchen window.

To have party heavyweights squaring up in court representing different factions of the same party is a declaration of murder of a party and it is shameful that Tsvangirai allows such to happen under his watch.

It is in Tsvangirai’s best interest to voluntarily step aside because all the acrimony is centred on his failure as leader, something confirmed by his three successive failures to lead the party to higher ground.

The heart of the matter is that the party is more important than a leader, especially a leader who was given several opportunities to bring change but failed. Tsvangirai should not find himself presiding over the demise of a party that he worked so hard to form and lead; party that has stood by him in several poll failures.

Surely, he can’t complain after being afforded so many chances.
Leadership of a party has everything to do with realising results, of catapulting a party to ruling status. Leadership is winning.

It is disheartening to see Tsvangirai clinging on to party leadership despite his failures.

Party leadership is not party ownership like we have seen in Zanu-PF and in other African countries. Party leadership demands results and that is one thing Tsvangirai has failed to deliver despite a strong support base.

The rumoured party split is very bad not only for the party but for Tsvangirai himself. The MDC cannot afford it and Tsvangirai should never allow himself to be the reason of a party split.

Now, the party is expending so much time and energy to prop up a leader instead of delivering mandates to the people.

The MDC has many elected officials who have to perform on behalf of those who elected them and they should not be sidetracked by issues of taking sides within their party.

The MDC should be making the most of what they have and waste no time in factional fights.

The people do not need that.

It is my hope that no political party will be formed out of the MDC because both will be weaker. Tsvangirai, like Mugabe in Zanu-PF, is a symptom of our failure to deal with leadership issues and our regrettable practice of letting a person own a party instead of just leading it.

Party leadership is not party ownership. Let’s put Zimbabwe first, please.

Tanonoka Joseph Hwande is a journalist and he writes in his personal capacity.