By Justin Mahlahla
There is no doubt the MDC-T has been rocked by divisions and intra-party violence that surpass any other political party in Zimbabweâ€™s history. The party is only 12 years old and has already witnessed factionalism and divisions that continue to threaten the very existence and viability of the British-bred and backed organisation.
In 2005, Professor Arthur Mutambara led a break-away group that called itself the MDC-M(utambara). That became the beginning of incessant bickering and finger-pointing that led to the formation of several other MDC splinter groups, notable among them the MDC-99 led by Job Sikhala. By calling his MDC-99, Sikhala seems to connote that his is the original Movement for Democratic Change whose founding principles date back to the year 1999 when Britain founded the organisation called MDC in Zimbabwe.
The MDC-M itself has suffered major shakings after a power tussle between Professors Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube almost saw the formation of an MDC-N(cube).
So many divisions in so little time!
It is amazing that the MDC, which purports to be a democratic party, fighting to bring democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe, is evidently a sick doctor who needs to treat himself first before attending to his patients.Â
Before the British establishment begins to talk about restoring Zimbabweâ€™s democracy, rule of law, human rights and good governance, the party should first address the time-bombs within its own ranks and whip some of its undisciplined members into line, or it will be a noise-maker with no consequences on the politics of Zimbabwe.
Yes, the party has risen to become a major opposition party in Zimbabwe in many years, but it falls far short of requisite order, discipline, harmony, unity, national agenda, national vision and Zimbabwean roots.
It has just come into the open that the MDC-Tâ€™s major funder, Huddersfied businessman, Alan Fish, will not be funding the oppositionâ€™s annual congress.
In an interview, Fish said the MDC-UK held elections, whose questionable outcome influenced him to stop supporting Morgan Tsvangiraiâ€™s MDC party as he used to.
Fish hinted that there were negative developments which have now tainted Morgan Tsvangiraiâ€™s party in the UK.
He has labeled the MDC-T a party of cheats â€˜who cheat at their own electionsâ€™.
â€œYou have proved yourselves to be no better than Zanu. My support was total and an ambassador for you in the white British community but after what I witnessed Saturday I cannot support a party who even cheats at its own elections,â€ said Fish.
He was referring to the sham elections organised by the MDC-Tâ€™s national chairman Lovemore Moyo in which many non-qualifying people were openly allowed to vote resulting in an outgoing leader being controversially re-endorsed by Moyo as winner despite protests and a request to have vote recount.
Funny how the MDC rants about the inefficiencies of Zanu PF whenever it comes to elections, always claiming that the revolutionary party imposes the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe, on the majority.
But Zanu PF, through its strong grassroots-to-top-level structures, always manages to bring the people together and unite them in endorsing Cde Mugabe as the partyâ€™s sole presidential candidate. Unlike in the MDC-T, there are no rich moguls who dictate well before a party congress who should be the presidential candidate and who should not.
Unfortunately for the opposition, the party is run by money for personal gain, by individuals who are only seeking opportunities to enrich themselves. The divisions and violence that are dogging the party are a result of greed. Nothing else.
And this time they have â€˜endorsedâ€™ Mr. Tsvangirayi as the partyâ€™s presidential candidate in elections expected to be held later this year, although there has been an outcry from disgruntled party members all over the country that the Westâ€™s choice is not their choice.
I like what the Newsday of April 26, 2011 said, â€˜Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has once again been chosen to lead the MDC-T in its sustained efforts to dislodge President Robert Mugabe from power and pave way for what the party says would be democratic change.â€™
Indeed, the report successfully gives the reader a clear impression of what the MDC-T stands for in Zimbabwe â€“ the removal of President Mugabe from power. Nothing has occupied the MDC-T more than the exit of Cde Mugabe from office. That is why the MDC-T has been blamed for its lack of concrete policy frameworks that will transform Zimbabwe and its people.
However, some reports have suggested that Mr. Tsvangirayi was long endorsed by his handlers as early as last year, because he is regarded by Britain and America as the face of opposition in Zimbabwe. Pity. Now even the stalwarts in the party have stepped aside and left Tsvangirayi to face the veteran Cde Mugabe on his own.
But, what happened to constitution of the party that gave an incumbent president (Tsvangirayi) two-terms at the helm? Has he not over-stayed his welcome? Of course, the MDC-T claims that it is still a young party â€“ that, because of the major split of 2005. But we all know that the MDC-T is now an old dog in the politics business. The party was formed (perhaps officially) in 1999! Zanu PF may argue that when Simba Makoni left to form Mavambo, the constitution should have changed to allow for more sitting terms for Zanu PF officials, including the President.
Zanu PF can also argue that when Dumiso Dabengwa left to form his party, Zanu PF would then be left more years younger and therefore change the constitution again.
And that is what the MDC-T wants us to believe, that simply because there was a split in 2005 the party was left to start all over again and therefore the constitution had to be reviewed!
And now it appears all attempts to end factionalism that has erupted in the MDC-T have hit a snag and the party will have to make do with disgruntled and divided supporters in its first congress after the infamous split of 12 October 2005.
The party has in recent weeks shown that within its rank and file there is gross intolerance, divisions, factionalism and violence.
Reports say this has resultantly annoyed a host of American and British funders of the MDC-T who have always invested trust in democratic processes within the party. An angry US embassy official was overhead saying: “Yah the guy truly needs a lot of handholding because there is disaster in the movement now,” referring to Mr Tsvangirai and MDC-T.
The Wiki leaks cable by former US ambassador Christopher Dell has described PM Tsvangirai as a “weak and indecisive leader who needs a lot of handholding” recently â€“ publicly embarrassing the popular MDC-T leader.
Bulawayo, Masvingo and Midlands North provinces have topped the list of the most divided and intolerant MDC-T hot spots.
In Bulawayo – violence erupted between the Matson Hlalo and Godern Moyo-led factions and some MDC-T members were injured in the process. Hlalo and Moyo both wanted the chairman post which was eventual won by Moyo.
The Hlalo camp contested the outcome but the partyâ€™s Standing Committee backed Moyo.
This weekend Mr Tsvangirai descended in the City of Kings to cause unity amongst the warring parties and the solution was endorsing Moyo as the partyâ€™s provincial chairman.
However â€“ the party will continue the elections for the Vice Secretary, Organising Secretary, Vice Organising, Organising Secretary, Treasury, Information and Publicity and five committee members.
Other provinces like faction riddled Midlands North have shown signs of being volatile and uncontrollable. Mr Tsvangirai and his partyâ€™s organising secretary Ellias Mudzuru visited the province in a bid to restore order after persistent threats and counter threats of violence amongst party members.
In Matabeleland North, there were irregularities in the manner in which nominations were conducted, and that caused further divisions and internal strife in the party.
The nominations were allegedly done without the 13 district chairpersons because the provincial chairman â€“ Sengezo Tshabangu had been arrested for failing to clear a political meeting with the police in terms of the Public Order and Security Act.
Tshabangu has told Mr Tsvangirai that he handed himself over to the police as a formula of protecting his partyâ€™s MPs who were supposed to go and vote for the Speaker of parliament position.
Matabeleland North structures are reported to have agreed to return their preferred candidates.
In Masvingo â€“ battle lines have been drawn amongst party cadres over the presidencyâ€™s position. There is a faction that vies for Tendai Biti and another that feels that Mr Tsvangirai should continue leading the party.
The youth wing has its problems too. Promise Mkhwananzi, Amos Chibaya and Solomon Madzore want the chairman post. Sources say an act of tribal balancing has been done and will see Madzore being elected to lead the youths deputized by Chibaya, and then Mkhwanazi will be the secretary general.
Said a Harare province member on condition of anonymity: “If these problems persist we are going to witness bloodshed at the congress. The leadership has failed to stamp its authority. They fear some people,” she said, adding that the issue of appeasing new comers in party is very thorny.
Chaos that erupted in Bulawayo between Moyo and Hlalo camps was a result of the fact that the Hlalo camp labeled Moyo a Mazifikizolo at first and a Nzwelaboya later simply because he is new in the party.
Moyo was picked up from civic group Bulawayo Agenda by Mr Tsvangirai allegedly because he has capacity to woo the Matabeleland vote to the MDC-T which faces stern competition from the Dr Dumiso Dabengwa-led Zapu and Professor Welshman Ncubeâ€™s MDC.
Further, there is a growing tide of resent in Matabeleland of Shona candidates which culminated in the birth of vibrant pressure group â€“ Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF).
MLF is lobbying all political parties in Matabeleland to filed Ndebele candidates in the coming elections. MDC -T is on record of fielding Shona candidates in Matabeleland â€“ the candidates have been accused of failing to grasp important regional matters and attend to them satisfactorily.
Itâ€™s about squabbles, strife, violence, distrust, tensionâ€¦
And then comes the national congress â€“ what new issues could be expected? Will Tsvangirayi do the honourable thing â€“ step down because he has over-stayed his welcome and needs to give space to a younger generation? Will there be peace at the congress? Surely the MDC-T can lead by â€˜exampleâ€™ and hold a calm congress whose resolutions will satisfy every one of its members?