IN a sense the low-key reunification of the MDC factions led by Tendai Biti (MDC Renewal Team) and Welshman Ncube, sealed at a ceremony on Wednesday, is auspicious in that it raises hope of consolidating what is now a splintered and ineffectual opposition.
CANDID COMMENT BY STEWART CHABWINJA
The name of the new party, the United Movement for Democratic Change (UMDC) is, however, rather paradoxical for the opposition remains mostly divided as in the main this union is shorn off the largest residual group headed by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and does not include yet Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zapu and Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Dawn/ Kusile.
Zimbabwe is crying out for a broader coalition of opposition parties constituting a robust alternative to the ruling Zanu PF locked in brutal internal hostilities, seemingly to the exclusion of its electoral pledges to pull the economy back from the brink.
After last year’s calamitous poll drubbing, it behoves the opposition to rethink strategy while mapping out the agenda for the 2018 polls. It must try to lure the progressive elements among Zanu PF heavyweights chucked out by President Mugabe as he fulfils what appear to be president-for-life aspirations.
The ground could not be more fertile for an effective opposition. Clueless Zanu PF remains stuck in thick fog as far as delivery is concerned.
In its 2013 election manifesto the party — among other lofty promises — pledged to unlock US$1,8 trillion by utilising idle assets and transfer at least US$7,3 trillion into the hands of black Zimbabweans through indigenisation, create more than two million jobs and revive the moribund education and health sectors. Its signature economy programme, ZimAsset, is dead in the water.
In fact, the illiquidity-hit economy is in worse shape than when Zanu PF won — many allege routinely stole — last year’s general elections.
If all this fails to galvanise the squabbling opposition to forge a united front coalescing all like-minded democratic forces then nothing else will. But what do we have now? An opposition amateurishly revelling in throwing brickbats at each other more than at common opponent, Zanu PF.
Any claims by opposition party leaders that their differences are insurmountable constitute dissembling baloney; they betray prioritisation of personality issues ahead of long-suffering Zimbabweans’ concerns. Were the MDC formations not able to work with a brutal Mugabe regime in the unity government for four years despite all its atrocities and criminal destruction of the economy?
In any case, Biti suggested on Wednesday the biggest step to reunification could be the overcoming of inflated egos—read arrogance — when he apologised to Ncube for verbal abuse after the party’s first split in 2005.
Hence Tsvangirai, Biti and Ncube, the chief protagonists in the MDC fragmentation, have much soul-searching to do. They would do well to take a leaf from Makoni and Dabengwa who projected maturity and flexibility by forging a united front.
A divided opposition in which everyone loses is a luxury the country can ill-afford. David Coltart could not have put it any better this week when he said: “That (2005 MDC) split was a gift to tyranny, and remains so!”