MDC needs to assess its performance honestly, objectively

HARARE - Last week, I said the MDC needs to confront some uncomfortable truths about its future.

The views I express are entirely my own, and not of this newspaper.

The point of departure is that the party needs renewal.

Many recognise that the MDC was a victim of electoral injustice but victimhood can also cover up the victim’s own inadequacies.

Any organisation that seeks to achieve its objectives needs to assess its performances honestly and objectively.

It cannot be denied that in the face of gross irregularities, the participation of the MDC in the last election — the party’s third and failed attempt to dislodge President Mugabe — was ill-advised.

It is a flimsy excuse to say: “We responded to pressure from people to take part.”

People need leadership; they entrust leaders with appropriate judgments.

In 2008, the MDC failed to demand its vote, let Zanu PF manufacture a result in five weeks and was then lured into a power-sharing arrangement as junior partners.

While a wounded Zanu PF knuckled down immediately, the MDC dozed off, and was late in articulating policies while enjoying benefits of public office.

Morgan Tsvangirai has been the face of the MDC since its formation; at times its battered face owing to Zanu PF barbarity. If there is one major contribution Tsvangirai made to politics here is the diminishment of fear.

That many people now associate the MDC with lesser fear is no mean achievement in a political space occupied by brutal behemoth.

However, it is also true that Tsvangirai, as a presidential aspirant, is a disconcertingly flawed character.

He is held responsible for the split of the party in 2005. His inconsistencies on policy issues wrecked public confidence.

Through personal indiscretions, he trashed public sympathy after the tragic death of his wife.

Still, for his courage alone, he was a risk many were prepared to accept for the sake of change.
However, the MDC must now put aside sentimentalism and find a leader appealing in more ways than one.

It can choose to be pragmatic or dogmatic. Dogmatism forecloses alternative propositions; pragmatism is open to suggestions.

The MDC has a good chance of winning the next elections if it can take bold decisions.

Tsvangirai has become too vulnerable to attacks from his opponents, perhaps a liability. He should consider stepping down.

For the immense role he played, he can assume the ceremonial role of “life president” of the party making way for a new leader to stand in the next election.

If, as expected, Mugabe does not stand in 2018, the MDC will face a weaker Zanu PF and presidential candidate. 

Not all within Zanu PF will find Mugabe’s successor acceptable, creating much more fertile grounds for “bhora musango.”

The MDC can reposition itself to exploit these conditions.

A new MDC leader might also provide a better chance for reunification of the MDC formations, creating a stronger opposition.

The new leader will have the task of rebranding the MDC and expanding its social base.

Institutional renewal after poor performance is normal. In Britain, for instance, Labour rebranded to New Labour after losing elections.

The New MDC would fashion new, clear and consistent policy positions. Developing its social base will involve reconnecting with key constituencies such as students, labour and civil society, and the rural electorate.

The MDC can turn to Simba Makoni.

Pragmatists are concerned primarily about ways of achieving their objectives, in this case democratic change.

The New MDC, under Makoni, may have a greater chance of achieving such objective.

He has far more gravitas than those within the ranks of the MDC, stature that Zanu PF secretly recognises too, hence his touting as Mugabe’s possible successor in the past.

He will be a more likeable beneficiary of “bhora musango” in 2018.

Makoni, Weshman Ncube, Tendai Biti et al does not sound a bad team for a future Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai, as ceremonial leader, will still have a role as an effective campaigner.

Whatever the case, the point is that MDC needs renewal.

If it is to win the next election, it will need to take bold decisions.

That entails installing a new leader less susceptible to attacks, less doubted, reconnecting with key groups, and crafting clear and consistent polices.

Comments (13)

Lets be brutally frank. For the MDC to survive it needs renewal and renewal begins with Morgan stepping down. He is damaged goods and has failed to lead the party effectively. The party needs new thinking. Democratic processes and principles demand that he step down.

connie - 27 August 2013

Well you have a rather enlightened opinion. I especially like the New MDC under Makoni idea. However we need to look at the conditions that the MDC was working under. Saying that they dosed off is rather extreme considering if you dont have defence security and media at your beckon call it would seem as if you have dosed off. Another thing I like about your piece is you have slightly resisted the temptation of sending all manner of vitriole towards Tsvangirai for participating. You only use the term ill advised, which, forgive the pun, is 'ill advised". Why? Simply because the highest Souther African body which could have stalled the elections didnt and passed the buck on to the Constitutional Court which went forth with the plebiscite.

Vincent - 27 August 2013

Tsvangirai is the face of MDC T and the reason why he was ousted by ZANU PF was not his fault, everybody knows that. Elections were stolen right in front of our eyes. The true winner was Ttsvangirai no doubt about that. MDC T must now sit down and evaluate what their mistakes and learn from the mistakes. MDC T should now get up from their fall, shake the dust from their clothes and think of plan B. This cheating of elections should be a wake up call for Tsvangirai and it is also a blessing on disguise. Next elections will be a better chance for MDC T because ZANU PF will definitely not deliver on their promise this time they are in office. ZANU PF failed to deliver in the past , so what magic wand do they possess to deliver promises which for the past 33 years did not deliver ? So MDC T must start now to mobilise grassroots for next elections. ZEC must not be partisan, voters' roll must be authentic and not rigged by NIKUV and Mudede. Mudede must not be in charge of the roll this time. Then we hear Mugabe will be the next chairman of SADC next year, so if MDC T has complaints, will they go to SADC if Mugabe is the next chief there?

Hapana Mufaro - 27 August 2013

When ZANU PF lost elections in 2008, they did a re- run of elections and won unopposed. When MDC T accepted to be in the GNU , they did not realise that they were being tricked into a trap that would weaken them in the future. They were given luxury cars and houses by ZANU PF, then they did not keep their eye on the ball and lost the ball game to ZANU PF. What MDC T should have done is to keep an eye on the ball in order to win the baall game. Now ZANU PF dumped them this time in the recent elections, when the economy was boosted by MDC T joining the GNU. Now that ZANU PF stole the elections and won 61% majority , they want to crush the opposition into nothingness. ZANU PF now want a One Party state and by crushing the MDC T , ZANU PF want to rule Zimbabwe forever. They are never ever going to worry about ordinary Zimbabweans. They are never ever going to be worried about schools and hospitals closing, and they do not care a toss either, if the economy nosedives during their rule. They will cling to power so that they continue to be near State resources and state funds to enrich themselves. Zimbabweans will continue to have stollen votes. Nikuv is here in Zimbabwe to stay and they will let ZANU PF win over and over again and again by fraudlent voters roll.

Taneta Nekubirwamavotes - 27 August 2013

Zimbabwean politics is still struggling deep in the doldrums of infancy. In as much as the centrality of ZANU PF'S popularity is based on Robert Mugabe, the same story can be said for Morgan Tsvangirai with regards to his MDC. Having made this observation it therefore follows that the vibrancy of the MDC can deminish once Morgan Tsvangirai ceases to be its leader and therefore changing party leadership at this moment is not a solution to any prospective change in Zimbabwe.

Tinotenda Munyukwi - 27 August 2013

What promises are you talking about you whitewashed faces of MDshit? We are already enjoying the ZPF policies of indeginization & empowerment. You think promises are all about inviting white people to our country and offered 2c jobs and be thankful - foolish

ndire ndire - 27 August 2013

You Conrad, politics in Africa is built around personalities and Tsvangirayi personifies the MDC. However asking them to unite with the smaller MDC which no longer exists if the election results are anything to go by is losing the bigger picture. In fact the smaller MDC should swallow their pride and go back to the bigger MDC and stop wasting everyone's time. Makoni is a good team player but he does not have grassroot traction. Biti is acting a part in a play in his mind so nobody takes him seriously, without Tsvangirayi he is just another loose canon like Gwisai and Sikhala..ie there is no gravitas there. Rather the MDC should rearrange chairs at the top six and drop passengers who cost them this election, though conventional wisdom suggests they did not lose it. I think Tsvangirai should start selling his deputy as the new boss with real energy.. he can then take two steps down and assume the chairman ship..remember Cameroon and Hague in the UK. Mudzuri with all his energy can come in to replace Biti and Komichi can become SG with Madzore taking on the organising secretaryship from Chamisa and get Matibenga back as chair for the women's assembly and then re-engage. You can rope in Biti as publicity secretary where his theatrics can be used to distract ZANU. Thus you have the top six.

gutter poet - 27 August 2013

Changing MDC T's leadership is exactly what ZANU PF want and that is to weaken MDC T by removing Tsvangirai. ZANU PF want to crush MDC T , so by removing Tsvangirai , MDC T will disappear into the thin air , so, MDC T must tell Tsvangirai to get advise and wisdom and ideas from his technocrats vana Biti nana Chamisa , Timba etc. They should just unite and be stronger than before. They were tricked this time, votes were stollen , so they must wise up and keep Tsvangirai as head and must re-group and fight another day.

Comment - 27 August 2013

Apa Conrad washaya nyaya. it just shows kuti wagarisa kuLesta and u r completely out of touch nepolitics dzekuZimba. Zvako zvekuita politics dzepainternet hazvishande mfanami. Simba wauri kuda uyu haatengeseke kuvanhu. He is the only minister (former) who has never won an election at any level in 33 yrs. Constituency yake ndeipi yaungati aite prezdent weMDC? Ita uchitanga wadzamisa pfungwa usati watanga kunyora munin'ina. usashorese chikoro chawadzidza. ita kuti vana vafungewo kuti kuCoventry university kune zvinodzidzwa.

Max Lunga (Scara) - 28 August 2013

Ana Max zvenyu ndezvekutaura nezvemunyori. Hatinei nazvo. Iyi inyaya inotaurwa kazeve zeve muMDC. Conrad is right. Iwe Max ndiwe uri out of touch. Tsvangirai has had his time. Tava kuda zvitsva

Taffy - 28 August 2013

Vana Max maMDshit mataurirwa zvamanga musingade kunzwa nemumwe wenyu saka momutuka. Unofunga kuti nyika ino ichava naPresident Tsvangirai. Ndingatova zvangu na President Simba Makoni pana President Tsvangirai nekuti Tsvangirai idofo hombe sewe Max

Jah Prezah - 28 August 2013

my suggestion is that the MDC-T is not finished.Tsvangirayi should be given last chance to dislodge ZANU,then he passes on the rely button.Recently held elections proved that Bulawayo was strong hold,they managed to bury MDC-M into dust bin of history,so they only need to map forward ahead of 2018 elections.party leaders should continue working very hard in all provinces.MDC-T still commands the majority support abroad and within Zim.Bhora mudondo/Ibhola egangeni come 2018!!!!!

lobengula bulawayo - 1 September 2013

While your analysis sounds very good I view it in the context of more democratic nations than ours. In Zimbabwe the politics is about popularity. With that in mind I am totally against taking Tsvangirai out of the picture. Tsvangirai is the known opposing figure in Zimbabwe in all places, rural and urban. You want to make the mistake ZANU(PF) did not want to make...taking Mugabe out and replace him with someone new, people had to learn of. Do not fall prey into that disastrous trap! The struggle should continue with Tsvangirai at the helm. If you remove him and put any other person: doubt + lack of popularity will reign and people would vote for ZPF. People do not know who Biti is, who Makoni is, let alone Welshaman Ncube(the betrayor). Political analysts are also dangerous players in politics....do we need to be reminded about one Jonathan Moyo?

charles charingeno - 3 September 2013

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