MDC must learn from mistakes

HARARE - The dust has settled, well, sort of, on the recently concluded 2013 harmonised election.

Besides the contestations around election results, with Sadc and the AU endorsing the poll, reality is beginning to sink in even into the most hard-wired MDC supporters.

The nightmare is slowly turning into reality and hopefully despair will also lead to introspection.

What went wrong? What changed from 2008 to now?

How could the party lose, and by such a landslide?

Introspection and a post-mortem is called for here.

The MDC hopefully will take a hard look at itself in the mirror and in doing so hopefully glean some hard, bitter truths.

I always maintain that the biggest mistake that the MDC made was in firstly entering the power-sharing government in 2008 and secondly entering as a junior partner.

The MDC won 47,87 percent of the vote to Zanu PF’s 43,24 percent.

If anything, the Prime Ministers’ post should have been created for the losing Zanu PF candidate, who should have lost his position as Head of State and Commander of the Armed Forces!

Unthinkable for Zanu PF and President Mugabe right? Then why was it kosher for the MDC to accept what was unthinkable to Zanu PF?

To put it in another way, what did Zanu PF and Mugabe lose when they lost the 2008 election; can anyone remind us?

They came out of the whole process with a few band aids, State machinery and security intact under their control.

The MDC effectively ceased to be a opposition party and became part of the establishment.

This transformed the party from being seized and preoccupied with the politics of the governed to being inundated with the politics of governing.

Inheriting councils, ministries and coordinating with ministries long steeped in predatory and patrimonial practices was always going to be a daunting task for a junior partner in government.

Naïveté, the allure of power, the politics of government and council bureaucracies, the politics of governing, greed; either one of these or various combinations soon took hold and in no time, it became difficult to distinguish who was who between the zoo-keeper and the poacher.

Allegations of graft in MDC-controlled councils became common place, lavish lifestyles followed.

Being in a power-sharing government, the MDC acted as if they had “arrived”, but this was a journey incomplete!

The electorate was watching, lessons from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar were not being heeded; Crowds are fickle!

Sometime early 2012, I attended a funeral in Uzumba and at the funeral Zanu PF cadres were already in election mode.

Taking advantage of the funeral of a family patriarch, I remember Zanu PF cadres extolling the virtues of the dearly departed and linking his role in the liberation struggle somehow to how supporting the MDC would be to disrespect this departed family patriarch blah blah blah.

The point being I am not sure what the MDC was doing but Zanu PF was re-galvanising their strong holds and reconnecting with the people.

Mid-2012 again, I remember seeing Morgan Tsvangirai playing golf at the Borrowdale Brooke golf course on some random Friday morning and I recall thinking this is a catastrophic mistake!

Wasn’t that the time, when the election mode was still off, to penetrate traditional Zanu PF strongholds like Mash East, Mash West, Masvingo and other Zanu PF strongholds and meet the people on the ground, galvanise and connect with people.

Wasn’t that the time to go back to the trade unions, student unions and civil society roots and reconnect and cement relations and alliances?

Gestures go a long way, what if the MDC in government had shunned luxury cars and mansions and said instead lets use that money to resuscitate a hospital, a clinic in that far flung constituency, cholera drugs there?

Tsvangirai could have been a different kind of Prime Minister, less presidential but taken a working class peasant prime minister role; a Zimbabwean Chavez type-in touch with the common man, workers, students, peasants without the visible trappings of power and luxury!

Nothing says “I’m at it more than golf and luxury boat cruises in a time when the majority of people who were MDC sympathisers and supporters were going through hell just to get hold of a dollar.”

Power cuts, water cuts, health-care dominate urban life and strife. Dollar shortages, grain shortages, farming inputs shortages, declining health-care and education standards permeate rural grounds.

Did the MDC do enough in these constituencies to address any of these troubles?

Many would have also loved to see a catchy election slogan to campaign with.

“Service and sacrifice” sounds academic and lofty vis-a-vis “bhora mugedhi: or “ibhola igedhini”.

The latter was clearly not designed for the urban electorate whom Zanu PF knew was not the home base.

Go to Mash East, Mash West, Masvingo and “bhora mugedhi” is as common place as thatched cottages.

With all due respect, service and sacrifice doesn’t sound like a clarion call, it doesn’t sound urgent.

And now with news emerging that Sadc advised the MDC to pull out of these elections as the only way that they could be delayed and allow time for reforms to be implemented, one wonders why that advice wasn’t heeded unless the MDC was overtly confident of victory? Never underestimate powerful opponents.

No election would have taken place if the MDC had pulled out; it’s as simple as that.

Pressure would have mounted from Sadc on Zanu PF to align the playing field.

But to go in an election knowing fully well that the voters’ roll is in chaos and without access to it, having witnessed the chaotic special vote of the uniformed forces, that the neutrality of Zec is questionable, that intimidation was taking place in the rural areas and that in the event of disputes the courts to arbitrate are not neutral, didn’t the MDC realise they were setting themselves up for a kamikaze mission? 

The MDC now has five years to get back to the basics, re-strategise, re-stimulate and learn from mistakes.

New leadership might just be the injection that it needs to resuscitate and become a top contender in a few years time in this game of thrones.

*Mamvura is a  visiting Rhodes lecturer.


Comments (9)

The analysis is reasonable but I think it is premised on a wrong assumption. It is assuming that the results announced reflects the correct outcome of the vote. I do not agree with that assumption because of the overwhelming facts to the contrary. I know that MDC T won the election but unfortunately denied and ZPF knows that. I can write a book on this. MDC T won the popular vote but ZPF used the big brother approach and manipulated the whole electoral system:- Zimbabweans frog marched and ambushed (rushed) to this election, ZPF abused state resources and institutions and its machinery (mudede, ZEC, judiciary, chinamasa, Nikuv, etc), violating the constitution left right and centre, violating numerous sections of the Electoral Act, Broadcasting Act, Presidential Powers among others. Why does ZEC refuse to avail basic information as requeste? People should also know that the Electoral Act requires that the election be free, fair, transparent and verifiable. This process is noble, feasible and comes at no additional compilation cost because the data is already there. Having said that the question is why ZEC has not released this information? ZPF knows it did not win and so is every level headed person. ZPF iri kutyei kana yakawhina??? Until the information is provided then ZPF must not be taken as a winner in this election. The writer may want to consider writing on why MDC T was denied the opportunity to run this country

Simon - 19 August 2013

I mantain the MDC's entering the unity government was not a mistake. It had the welfare of the people at heart. Those who were in Zimbabwe during this time will attest, there was no room for them to manouvre even if they had wanted to stay out of the GNU. In as far as corruption in councils is concerned it pales into insignificance when compared to the other party. The MDC lost the election for a myriad of other reasons and the two mentioned above are not one of them.

gutter poet - 19 August 2013

This analysis is very correct,most of us voted MDC T in 2008,but after GNU we noticed the leadership had lost direction,remember these guys got Loans from lMF or WORLD Bank,and intead of funding or sponsoring those who voted them,they chose to give each other salaries raging btn US$5000 - US$15 000 among the top brass of Leaders.While ZANU PF was dishing out maize seeds to rural folks the MDC President is paying over us$300 000 for pwanyaruzhowa . Surely the blunders are many to mention here.

mupositori - 19 August 2013

This was your thoughts. Mike Mabvura, don't talk as if you are not a Zimbabwean. We are all very much aware that even the agreed procedures when MDC and zpf entered in GNU ZPF wanted to do it themselves. This is the kind of people we have in ZPF. Remember T. Mbeki lost his presidency because of Zimbabwe but those people he was fighting for are still ruling. Human rights is not recognized in this country, that's why in 2008 you were like a form one student because of food shortage. We can deduce that what the ZPF want is to rule not to give anyone the chance even in their own party. How can someone rule for 50years as if he is the only one left in the country. You should know that they don't trust other ZPF guys. how can they allow MDC to know all the secretes? Another point when Morgan was spotted playing golf its a very good thing taken by a leader. You are not suppose to preach politics every second of your life. For example you are writer, are you always writing on every thing you encounter, if so you are the one who is writing even in the toilets by his own.... As human beings we should relax a bit and strategize. What we are much aware of is that before elections ZPF used a tough stratagem of intimidation and all tricks for them to win thus why they were predicting of am overwhelming victory before election as if they were writing a revised leaked form two paper.

big soss - 19 August 2013

Reporter you can say that if elections were free and fair.Are you forgetting that these election did not meet the required guidelines by SADC standard although they contradicted themselves by endorsing the results.I don't see were MDC deserve to be critisised when they were cheated.

chimwango - 19 August 2013

stupid comments from stupid MDCshit supporters who are doomed. Do u think Zimbabwe iToilet or rubbish bin rokumba kwenyu kwamunosweroita zvamunoda? Zimbabwe will NEVER be a colony again - period!!!!!!!! Chamatama chakakupai mupfuhwira kani? Playing GOLF vanhu vachitambura???? Daylight sickness - ZPF experienced kuti there is NO time to play. When people make decisions on governance, they make sacrifices, yet imi munofunga kuti paneTIME yokutamba GOLF. Idiotic!

ndire ndire - 20 August 2013

Amaru Amaru

Yo - 20 August 2013

the election was rigged as usual, FULLSTOP.

1st Zimbambwean - 22 August 2013

elections are over lets think ahead and be focused and composed

herbert - 22 August 2013

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