Lawson Mabhena, Editor
IN an editorial published in the Washington Post last Wednesday titled, Turkey Can’t Defy the Laws of Economic Gravity, the authors, Bloomberg’s Editorial Board, wrote: “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has spent much of the past year seeking and failing to defy economic logic.”
On the same day in Zimbabwe, opposition political party Movement for Democratic Change — Tsvangirai (MDC-T) plunged into crisis when the leader of the party, Mr Douglas Mwonzora suspended his deputy, Dr Thokozani Khupe.
Dr Khupe who immediately hit back by claiming Mr Mwonzora “fired himself” from the party when he wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) saying he will contest elections under “another party”, the MDC-Alliance.
Dr Khupe repeated the same allegations the following day when addressing a Press briefing at Macdonald Hall in Mzilikazi, Bulawayo, where she declared herself leader of MDC-T.
This is just one of many times the MDC party has split, first in 2005 when then secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube and others formed MDC-N. Then in 2014, a faction led by Mr Job Sikhala split from the MDC-N to create MDC 99.
The leaving of Prof Ncube and others had prompted party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai to form MDC-T, but in 2014, MDC-T’s secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer-general Mr Elton Mangoma left the party to form MDC Renewal.
Mr Biti and Mr Mangoma later parted ways to form the People’s Democratic Party and Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe, respectively.
In March 2018, Dr Khupe announced that she was leaving the opposition party now led by Mr Nelson Chamisa following the death of Mr Tsvangirai, but would retain the name MDC-T. This forced Mr Chamisa to participate in the 2018 elections under the name MDC-Alliance.
In March 2020, a Supreme Court judgment ruled that MDC-Alliance was illegitimate and that Dr Khupe was the legitimate successor to the late Mr Tsvangirai. However, a congress on December 27, 2020, made Mr Mwonzora party leader. And now the “legitimate MDC” has split.
To steal from the Washington Post, the opposition MDC has spent the past 23 years or much of its time since formation in 1999 seeking and failing to defy political logic.
Opposition parties oppose ruling parties and not themselves. They exist to wrestle power from the ruling party and not from each other. This political logic can never be defied; especially by the MDC.
Of interest, following Mr Mwonzora’s decision to write a letter informing ZEC that his party will be contesting elections as MDC-Alliance, Mr Chamisa’s party no longer has a name. Can you believe it? Where in the world has a nameless party successfully wrestled power from a ruling party? In the case of Zimbabwe, a ruling party that is 59 years old.
A ruling party that removed a colonial regime and brought about political independence. Who does Zanu-PF tell its supporters not to vote for: “That one without a name?”
If the nameless party is interested, here’s a free name: Movement to Change Political Logic.
The irony of all the political comedy in Zimbabwe is that a party that claims to be founded on the principles of democracy has split several times for lack of the same. The party is led by political despots who will do anything to cling onto power.
They will even destroy the party they formed or split votes during national elections. Talk about defying the laws of political gravity!
The death of opposition politics in any democratic country is no laughing matter. A good opposition is needed to keep the ruling party in check.
This is why in most democracies — Zimbabwe included — both the ruling party and main opposition get support from treasury. Both are important in the democratic mix.
Unfortunately, the MDC in 23 years has not mastered the art of contributing to building a Zimbabwe all Zimbabweans want.
Instead, the party has been a battleground for leadership positions. Individual interest ahead of national interest.
The greatest victim in all this bickering and splitting is democracy. Who would have predicted in 1999 that in the future, the biggest threat to democracy in Zimbabwe would be the newly-formed Movement for Democratic Change?
Who would have predicted that this party that had caught the attention and indeed the funding of liberal Western nations would wither away, drained by its futile quest to defy political logic?
The Movement for Democratic Change must change itself first before changing Zimbabwe.