Reason Wafawarova on Monday
NOW Morgan Tsvangirai is resting in eternal peace back in Humanikwa Village in Buhera; from where he hailed before we all knew him as a firebrand unionist and politician. May his soul rest in peace. It is undeniable that Morgan Tsvangirai enjoyed a stupendous mass of support, much of it in sympathy with a man portrayed as a victim of the fangs of despotism, especially during the fledging first five years of the MDC as an opposition party. He immensely benefited from the diplomatic war between former president Robert Mugabe and the Western community, and he was particularly internationalised as an icon for democracy in 2007, after he was unnecessarily and needlessly bashed by overzealous police officers in Highfield.
There was this ponderous portrayal of Tsvangirai as a shrewd and brave democracy fighter that elevated an otherwise unassuming politician to international heroism, attracting a few awards from the cheering Western countries, even daring a Nobel Peace Prize nomination alongside Barack Obama in 2009.
Australia’s Julia Gillard declared Tsvangirai was in the same class with Nelson Mandela, just like some obscure Mike Staresinic has declared the same for Nelson Chamisa; the man who claims Tsvangirai anointed him successor to his throne before he breathed his last in surrender to a long fight with colon cancer.
Incumbency in Government did not do Tsvangirai much glory in his political career. He was outsmarted by a greater and true international icon; a grandmaster of political scheming and shrewdness — the once invincible Robert Gabriel Mugabe. As Tsvangirai appended his signature to the so-called Global Political Agreement — an agreement to a coalition government with Zanu-PF; the then Zanu-PF leader saw a stupid cow that rejoices at the prospect of being taken to a beautiful abattoir.
The altar of assumed power totally demystified the mythical perceptions that once elevated Tsvangirai to a seeming man of gigantic political capacities.
Today, Nelson Chamisa hardly has recognisable international backers like Tsvangirai did, does not have a Western-hated Mugabe to protest against, and has to rely on what is left of the Tsvangirai legacy, and also on his one and only asset — being aged 40.
Chamisa has a few months from getting his baptism of fire in a presidential election, if he gets his way past his rivals within the MDC-T; as seems to be most likely. There is a Sudanese proverb that says, “A large chair does not make a king.” The office that Chamisa has chosen is a large chair in which sits a very small man with a gigantic insatiable appetite for power. The grandeur of the office of main opposition leader in itself will not make Nelson Chamisa a great man, just like the grandeur of the office of Head of State and Government will not in and of itself make President Mnangagwa a great man. Votes from the MDC-T National Council, or the National Executive Committee cannot in and of themselves make Nelson Chamisa a great man, neither will the noise of the thuggish youths that seem to believe they can violently rail road whomever they may so wish into submission to Chamisa’s ascendancy.
No doubt Nelson Chamisa sits in a huge chair, but he is still a small boy yet to grow into the kind of manhood required to win a national election. So far he has just managed petty victories at funerals, and at Harvest House, apart from picking social media fights with the woman who believes her constitutional entitlements in the MDC-T succession matrix were robbed by Nelson Chamisa, with the help of tribally-minded hoodlums.
Tsvangirai went to a number of African countries in 2013, hoping he would get the then pending election postponed. At the time his Western allies were deserting him and trying to make peace with former president Mugabe. Today, the West does not seem to notice the boy sitting in the huge chair left at the MDC-T by Morgan Tsvangirai.
In fact, the only engagement visible is between the Mnangagwa-led Government and the West, particularly Britain.
Tsvangirai had no takers among the African leaders he visited; Election 2013 happened, and he lost dismally to Robert Mugabe, with his party being handed its worst ever election defeat in its history. Chamisa was safe in Kuwadzana, but he was hugely blamed for the election loss; as he was the National Organising Secretary at the time. Chamisa is anchoring his political career on alienating one generation against the other. He has adopted this “them and us” approach that says governments are not inter-generational, but mono-generational.
He believes every voter of his age or younger must vote for him by way of “generational consensus”. Chamisa believes someone 18 years younger than him belongs to his own generation, but the one 18 years older than him belongs to a different generation. In any country there are about four generations at a time, and they depend on each other heavily.
Chamisa must be aware that leadership is a character-based quality, and he must also understand that being head of state and government is national mandate, not a generational mandate. There is nothing wrong with electing a young president, for as long as the mandate is given on the basis of wisdom and capacity to lead. Anyone publicly proclaiming to stand for only one generation automatically disqualifies himself from national leadership before nominations.
In dealing with Western funders, Chamisa needs to remember the Ethiopian proverb that says, “Dine with a stranger, but save your love for your family”. You do not support strangers when they punish your own people through murderous economic sanctions, even if those sanctions are meant to get at your hostile political opponents. That trip that Chamisa, Dewa Mavhinga and Tendai Biti did to the United States in December 2017 remains unforgivable — fruitless as it turned out to be.
It is not politically prudent to endeavour to win an election on the backdrop of the suffering of your own people. It is not a learned idea to try and win an election by setting up one generation of the population against the other.
In fact, one does not become a head of state and government by walking into a national presidential election armed solely with young age. A one-generation vote happens at universities, and certainly a country is not a university.
Anyone that dines with Western imperialists in the name of sweet democracy must always be reminded that the skin of a leopard is beautiful, but not its heart. This is why Madhuku said he became wiser after being dumped by Western funders. Even in this re-engagement process initiated by ED Mnangagwa we cannot be as excited as to be stupid. Zimbabwe is open for business, but not for the business of being screwed and looted.
Western democracy is as beautiful as the skin of a leopard, but the imperialism that drives it is as deadly as the venom of a cobra. In re-engaging the West Zanu-PF must always remember the national interest. Greed loses what it has gained, and Chamisa must be very careful where he steps. He cannot rise by the propping of hooligans and then hope to become a peaceful leader in the future.
He sits in this gigantic chair left by Tsvangirai with the small cheap mind that can get him to open his mouth and lie that he was promised $15 billion by Donald Trump when nothing of the sort ever happened. He has the same small and cheap mind that says the noisy and thuggish youths in the MDC-T Youth wing are an asset in dealing with political rivals. Maturity is needed badly in the current MDC-T set-up.
The MDC-T has always lacked depth in policy compared to Zanu-PF. Chamisa must forget about using his age to win votes and must start using his brain and imagination to formulate saleable policies to the electorate. This “let us try something” mantra is just empty talk that cannot win an election. Voters try something else after being given hope. Hope is not about slandering your opponent. It is about promising what one can do for the voter.
The West sees the need for correction after years of relentless demonisation of Zimbabwe. The idea of a mindless thug undermined the intelligence of Robert Mugabe, and that gave the iconic veteran politician an edge over his detractors.
Conversely the idea of portraying Chamisa as an intelligent and youthful fighter badly underestimates the man’s weakness — power-mongering and ruthless suppression of competition. It is a staggering thought to imagine what a man like Chamisa would do with State power in his hands each time we see him unleashing those rowdy youths to make Harvest House a no go area for people seen as opposed to his leadership.
The 2009-13 inclusive Government exposed the MDC-T morally. They cannot be preaching political holiness anymore.
Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe said MDC-T politicians “exposed their own naivety and appetite for opulence and extravagance”.
He added: “In four years the level of wealth these MDC guys have accumulated is shocking.” Majongwe was quoted by David Smith of the Guardian in his article titled, “Mugabe’s Redemption as Father of the Nation”, Indeed, the rise of Mnangagwa helped redeem the legacy of Robert Mugabe as father of the nation. Hard to believe what would have happened if Mugabe had departed the throne at the hands of the MDC-T.
Zimbabweans are now overwhelmingly in admiration of the 2000 land reform programme, especially with many of the beneficiaries immensely transforming their lifestyles through tobacco sales. MDC now badly wants to be included. This makes the MDC-T rhetoric about the land reform programme being a huge disaster sound disgustingly treacherous. The more this is said the more Chamisa would look like a small boy failing to outgrow childhood fantasies. The point here is that Zanu-PF remains connected to the rural voter through the land reform programme, and given that 3,5 million of the 5,1 million registered voters are from rural areas, the opposition does have a mountain to climb in 2018.
Professor Ian Scoones of Sussex University in his 2013 book titled “Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land” concluded: “In the biggest land reform in Africa, 6 000 white farmers have been replaced by 245 000 Zimbabwean farmers. These are primarily ordinary poor people who have become more productive farmers.”
The domino effect has now become evident in South Africa. All that Zanu-PF will need to do now is to attract investment in time for the election, to reinvigorate the initiative to re-engage with the West in particular, and also to increase cooperation with traditional allies.
Zimbabwe is now open for business, and let business begin.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.