BY BRIAN CHITEMBA
RECENT tumultuous events in the MDC Alliance and MDC-T parties climaxed this week with the surprise recalling of the parliamentary portfolio committee on public accounts chair and former Finance minister Tendai Biti. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) secretary-general Benjamin Rukanda pulled the trigger on Biti, William Madzimure, Settlement Chikwinya and Sichelesile Mahlangu after writing to Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda on Wednesday.
The MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora — whom the MDC Alliance accused of being a “surrogate of Zanu PF” — has been sacking parliamentarians and councillors.
The Nelson Chamisa-led alliance has also lost control of the Morgan Tsvangirai House, formerly Harvest House, to Mwonzora.
At a time Biti, a rabid Zanu PF critic, was being kicked out of parliament, former MDC-T deputy spokesperson and ex-Justice deputy minister Obert Gutu was joining Zanu PF.
Chitungwiza Senator James Makore also joined the former liberation movement. All these events paint a gloomy picture for the opposition. It raises questions on whether the MDC Alliance will be intact come the 2023 plebiscite. Chamisa, in his Agenda 2021 address, accused Zanu PF of trying to create a one-party State modelled on Chinese political culture dominated by the Communist Party.
Probably the only difference will be that unlike in Zanu PF where politicians are rewarded on the basis of patronage, ethnicity and cronyism, the Chinese Communist Party is driven by what Professor Daniel Bell calls “vertical democratic meritocracy” which entails promotion based on competence from lower levels of government up to the high echelons of power.
Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo has denied that the ruling party harboured one-party state ambitions. Without doubt, the developments ravaging the MDC-A and the MDC-T have decimated the opposition, formed in 1999 by the late Morgan Tsvangirai. Can Zanu PF be wholly blamed for the damaging recalls and defections?
The answer is a yes and no.
To go by Professor Stephen Chan’s argument that Zanu PF has adopted the Indian style of politics of drawing opposition party members, the fractured opposition is fighting a seasoned political outfit determined to keep a firm grip on power. Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC-T, which MDC-A says, is “Zanu PF B”, as it enjoys a cosy relationship with the ruling party, which denied the MDC-A money from the Political Parties Finance Act, will share ZW$100 million allocated under the 2021 national budget with Zanu PF. On the flipside, the opposition has been stalked by splits even from the Tsvangirai days. Discord is not new in the MDC as political history is replete with examples.
Thus, Chamisa should unite his people ahead of 2023 elections or he continues to suffer losses in parliament and party. A robust opposition is good for democracy as it helps to keep the governing party in check. But as it stands, the MDC-A is rapidly losing its foothold among the Zimbabwean polity.