'Biti's U-turn puzzling'

HARARE - Tendai Biti, MDC secretary-general, on Thursday last week touched off a storm when he admitted that his party lost to Zanu PF in the watershed July 31 elections due to poor electoral messages.

Biti, who was addressing a meeting of civic groups and academic leaders in Harare, had previously alleged that they lost the polls due to massive rigging, claims rejected by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.

Biti had all along alleged that Zanu PF had “stolen this election to the extent that they themselves are so embarrassed”.

At the Thursday gathering, he claimed Zanu PF’s bhora mugedhi message resonated well with the electorate and added that the MDC’s economic blueprint dubbed JUICE — an acronym for Jobs, Upliftment, Investment Capital and Environment — launched by party president Morgan Tsvangirai at his 8th national policy conference held at the Jubilee Christian Centre in Milton Park in Harare a month before the poll, was too complicated for the electorate.

Social and political commentators gave varying perspectives on Biti’s sudden U-turn.

Playwright Cont Mhlanga said while he is not sure where Biti is coming from, he is sure where he is headed to.

“He is choosing a camp, finally coming out in the open the side of the coin he is on, the side that is calling for their president to step down,” Mhlanga said.

“He is setting himself up to be the new leader in the new party that will come out of this crisis that they have pushed the party into.”

The playwright said Biti has always known that Zanu PF stole the election not from the ballot box but from the MDC structures that concerned themselves and not with the people and the future of the nation once they got into government during the inclusive years.

“It is true that while their leadership was showing off across the country, regionally and some internationally, Zanu PF was busy stealing the hearts of their members through their empowerment programmes and later the manifesto,” he said.

“They even called it vote-buying through indigenisation but failed to find an attractive counter to the vote-buying but only to shout Mugabe’s old age and long term in office as if it is the one that was their party’s policy and manifesto.”

Mhlanga said after the election, Tsvangirai’s MDC hurt themselves further by trying to make the people and the world buy the dummy of vote rigging when it was obvious that they willingly went to play and lost.

“They should just have quickly admitted defeat, congratulated Zanu PF and gone swiftly to re-organise their party by opening up for other opposition parties and civil society inviting all to a round table to find new directions for the nation and not for MDC,” he said.

“In the process the party was going to renew itself. We would be having no calls for Tsvangirai to step down as we have today.”

Mhlanga believes the latest episode is time wasting for MDC and soon it will be election time and they will find themselves at a disadvantage as Zanu PF will have a head start policy manifesto wise.

“This is equal and or even worse than the time wasting that they embarked on during the inclusive government. If they are plotting a split they need to move with speed to save on time and amount of destruction.”

Civil rights activist Precious Shumba said it is unfortunate that Biti has chosen the time of their internal party dispute to make those serious claims, considering that he was vociferous in his denunciation of Zanu PF and the so-called Nikuv involvement in the rigging of the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections.

“As the party’s secretary- general, he must have been one of the key strategists to identify campaign issues, design campaign strategy and executive the election campaign plan, and provided a lot of input to guide the whole process up to post-election evaluation processes. “Working in a team means one is bound by the team resolutions, meaning the team remains united in failure and success. In a team, one must take full responsibility for their roles and be accountable for their own actions.”

Shumba, however, said it must be soberly noted that the analysis into the July 2013 election must evaluate the content of election manifestos and their relevance to the Zimbabwean citizen.

“In that view, Biti’s comments must be respected as they reflect a growing frustration within the top hierarchy of the MDC with the leadership style of Tsvangirai as the head of Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party,” he said.

“His utterances make the MDC a party of indisciplined party cadres who think that they all have the right to speak to the media on policy and administrative issues. That is where they lose the struggle to Zanu PF.”

Political commentator Blessing Ivan Vava said Biti’s remarks are not surprising considering the infighting within the MDC.

“The sum of it all is to place the blame on Tsvangirai since he is the leader of the party and justify the calls for Tsvangirai to step down,” he said.

“The statements therefore reinforce their argument that the loss was as a result of Tsvangirai’s alleged bad leadership style.”

A political commentator who refused to be named said Biti’s statements are hypocritical and an act of desperation which should be viewed in the context of the current fissures within the MDC.

“What is clear is that the MDC is dominated by people who masquerade as genuine individuals wanting change and yet they are in it for personal gain.

“All along Biti and his colleagues have been telling us that the elections were stolen. He himself said that it was Nikuv who stole the election on behalf of Zanu PF.

“He even went out of his way to take footage which has since gone viral on Internet of how Zanu PF manipulated the elections on July 31 providing evidence from constituencies such as Mount Pleasant.

“So Biti’s sudden U-turn is surprising considering that he is one of the top MDC leaders who compiled the much-hyped dossier they submitted to Sadc and AU about how the July, 31 election was stolen.”

Media activist Tabani Moyo said the truth of the matter is that Zanu PF employed both hardware and software strategies that led to the crushing victory in the just ended elections. “However, I do not believe it was anything to do with the messaging of the campaign, but it was more of the fact that the opposition was disorganised.

“Above all, the opposition’s short stint in government exposed it to serious shortfalls pertaining to the governing of the country.

“The opposition, in short took, the people for granted and they thought it is given to win the next election,” said Moyo.

He added that there is no departure point here only to say that yes, Zanu PF won out of the opposition’s complacency, “it was more organised than the rest but not mainly on messaging but recruitment and mobilisation of its supporters to vote.”

“In addition it controlled through influence or otherwise the registration of voters in towns.”

Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu believes while it cannot be denied that Zanu PF had a better message, one cannot completely say the election was free and fair.

“We all know of the failures around the voters’ roll, the herding of rural communities like cattle to the voting posts,” he said.

“The biggest failure was the failure by Tsvangirai, Biti and team to demand a genuinely free and fair election more so an independent ZEC, and transparent voter registration.”

He added that Biti is right, “the election was not entirely rigged but was lost because the MDC leaders were sleeping on the job.”

Comments (19)

talking of what happened in 2013 elections is now history our minds should focus on challenges ahead

cde chaperachapera - 12 March 2014

Point of correction. I hail from the resettlement areas, there was no herding of the rural communities to the election points. The work was done by a month beforet the elections and everybody in the rural was agreed that lest defend the land because Morgan was a threat in that regard. Dont forget the alien vote, it was a game changer, they are very loyal to the farming cause and their employers

Shebba - 12 March 2014

A flawed process can never be free neither can it be fare for the simple reason that its flawed.

Ziziharinanyanga - 12 March 2014

Biti is confused these elections were not going to be won by any other party apart by zanu pf .Zanu had promised to kill upon loosing.People were very afraid.Ask people from Chief Charumbira area,gokwe,gwanda,tjolotjo,dotito---you name it.They were afraid kufumurwa huori whavo whe 34 years.Tsvangirai tried his best.These zanupf beasts have no people at heart.They are looters bloody thieves!!!

ndizvo - 12 March 2014

as we analys what happened in the last election mugabe is watching closely if any of us does know how he did it. at present nobody seems to know. so he will use the same in the next election if we dont. for me the strongest tool of all he is using is mudede the quite one. mark my words. he knows how to play around with numbers. he has two voters roll, one from zanu one from the country as a whole. he knows where to add what and where to subtract what, the reason why the parties are fighting is because in truth they dont know what hit them. as soon as they point at what real hit them you will see or hear mugabe being defensive like he defended the reform of the army. at present we are not hitting it ladies and gentlemen and we have the opposition who are fighting each other than finding out how it was done against them. that why i i like how ncube acted after the election. dont comment until you know what to say. i believe this man will surprise us.

see - 12 March 2014

Sekuru Gudo vanofamba zvinyoro-nyoro vachikwira makomo

Colonel - 12 March 2014

Biti is behaving like a confused, conered add desparatet rat trying to find its way out of a trap.Ngaabude pachena samangoma kwete kuita hide and seek.He is a coward.

jonso - 12 March 2014

Its a pity to see our leaders fighting one another. Tsvangirai ngaabve, apara mhosva yei.Biti Mudzuri and mangoma have no place in mdc nokuti vatengesi. we are not going to win any election kana tine vatengesi ava. kucongress hatidi kana kuvaona, they must leave mdc alone and form their own party.

munyarari wakachekwa - 12 March 2014

We spent more time on mediocrity that is why we are in the 1940s when other countries are already in 2020.

maita - 12 March 2014

The MDC and media fixation with morgan is symptomatic of the ideological bankruptcy of the party-it has experienced still birth because its intellectual brain trust is seriously depleted with the departure of Welshman, Chaibva, Gwisai, Mangoma and maybe now Biti. The mob needs an elite of thinkers to steer the ship. No revolution ever prospered without this vital ingredient. Otherwise, a rule by the undiscriminating mob will lead to a reign of terror. MDC might have prospered if it could be the broad church such as ANC. But even there, they have problems and class struggles and underlying suspicions which are shored up by some crisis. Morgan is all charisma but no substance.That is the cold hard fact. He is the prime minister of women.

bollo billings - 12 March 2014

You are all worried about slamming Biti. What of Mudzuri and others such as Solomon Madzore ( who spent months in jail for the revolutionary cause) and Promise Mkwananzi ? Is Madzore a Zanu Pf agent also ? Why did the youth beat him up ? Who set them to it ? MDC eats its own children. The blind cannot continue leading those who want to see. Cold hard fact.

bollo billings - 12 March 2014

When the blind was leading us all the way to the elections where was the secretary general, Mangoma, Bennet and all these bastards who are making noise now they must accept that all of them were beaten by Nikuv & thats all

Sigas - 12 March 2014

Tendai my son, nyoka huru haizvirumi.

biti - 12 March 2014

Every time I ask myself .how does one become a political comentetor . Nearly all these so called political comentetor u spoke to all do not know zim politics . How can you say zanu had better policies . People in rurals areas know no policy simple . Zanu uses fear people are always of what happened in 2008 if they vote for MDC they we be killed this zanu 's policy and come election they will use this strategy mark this space. On why Biti is backing off is very simple he has seen that Morgan is still commanding a huge following eg 210 districts all put their weight on Morgan . Mangoma suspended by the national council pending expalsion Biti has realised that Morgan will image the victor here such that he has started to panic but i think he has soiled himself already he may resign and go into law practicing.

Dibulaanyika - 12 March 2014

Yoh, Zimbabwean politics! undesciplined senior members of the opposition party? Using the press to further their personal agendas. Morgen, get rid of these malcontents and focus in the next election. Why are we majoring the minor. We do not need this not now, never. Please do not take notice. Let them form their own party. Morgen you are the brand, just like Lionel Ritchie and the commodores. Without Ritchie, were they the commodores? You are MDC manhi!

jerry - 12 March 2014

AUGUST 2013 :ZANU stole the election I have evidence. They bussed thousands to my constituency to vote for them. OCTOBER 2013: I have agreed to be GONO's lawyer. Remember this is purely a non political issue. We lawyers are professional unlike you little people of Dotito and Chendambuya. We know where to draw the line between political and professional. DECEMBER2013: ZANU stole the election. They themselves are embarrassed of the extent of their theft. MARCH 2014 : NO SORRY I mean ZANU won fairly. Their messages resonated well with the electorate. MARCH2014: OOPS pardon me. I was trying to say that while they beat us , I mean their messages resona...., I mean they, I, THEY, you know in this AUGUST house , Your Worship NO THEY STOLE THE ELECTIONS. They stole it. Yes that is on record. I said they stole the election and that is that PERIOD. (Very disappointing indeed)

mosquito - 13 March 2014

The brand called Morgan Tsvangirai has expired.... That brand will never win an election in ZIMBABWE. Take that to the bank.

Nyakudirwa - 13 March 2014

If THE TRUTH BE TOLD, this nikuv thing played a significant in the 2013 elections. When a party is a grieved and wants access to ballot papers why refuse it if there is nothing amiss. As for blame on results all the top leadership should b busy strategising now if not immediately after the elections. All these people blaming Morgan for the loss could hv never done better as well. Stop pointing fingers 2018 is around the corner ladies n gentlemen.' ALUTA CONTINUA'.

SANDILE NARE - 13 March 2014

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.