Biti redeems himself

HARARE - In the aftermath of his Southern African Political and Economic Series (Sapes) faux pas, one is tempted to say Tendai Biti has done himself and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) a lot of good by moving to clarify his controversial statements at the discussion forum last week.

While this political hard-man’s remarks had been interpreted as a ringing endorsement of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party’s victory — through a raft of smart campaign strategies — the words were also at variance with Biti’s own party position and his earlier view that July 31’s outcome was contested.

As such, the feisty lawyer had taken quite some flak from a wide cross-section of disbelieving Zimbabweans and opposition supporters. Additionally, many were even wondering whether the MDC secretary-general had been “bought off” by the ruling party or he had completely lost his marbles — and which is why it is good for him, his party and the country in general that he has moved to clear up the nonsense.

Indeed, one does not have to be an MDC sympathiser or fanatic to realise that a strong opposition is good for any democracy, and our long-suffering Zimbabwe is no exception. And in an exclusive interview with our political editor Thelma Chikwanha earlier this week, an emotional Biti — clearly reeling from his embarrassing Sapes gaffe, endless clashes with Morgan Tsvangirai and other debilitating problems bedevilling their party — vowed he would rather die than join Zanu PF.

Crucially, he also reiterated his public views that the 2013 elections were rigged by Mugabe and Zanu PF, putting paid to any lingering doubts about his continued appetite for opposition politics and the quest for a more democratic Zimbabwe.

While some Zanu PF functionaries and apparatchiks may disagree, Biti’s position on this and many other issues is not only good for his standing, and the MDC, but also for our country for the following reasons.

As the Daily News has repeatedly pointed out in recent editions, the current strife and warring in this troubled party is a pointless conflict in which all the players are set to lose big time.

For the record, this includes Tsvangirai, Biti himself, suspended deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and other party honchos politicking for this, and other factional interests.

In another view, it can also be argued that Zimbabwe at large — together with its nascent democracy — is the biggest loser as this madness within the MDC rages on because the country has never needed a united, stronger and viable opposition than now, especially when economic problems are threatening to mirror the calamitous and myriad crises of 2008.

What makes this saga even more tragic is the fact that all the warring factions know fully well that their party was destined to lose last year’s election since they had naively agreed to participate in that ill-fated vote without all the key tenets of the global political agreement as had been directed by Sadc.

In that light, no amount of smart election campaigns and messages were ever going to change this reality, as the dice was heavily loaded against the MDC before the game had even started. Put differently, the opposition was always going to lose — and fail to dislodge Zanu PF — as dismally as it did once it had agreed to participate in the ballot without the agreed reforms.

The nation’s hope, therefore, is that Biti’s clarification of his commitment to the MDC and cause for deepened democracy in Zimbabwe, will begin the process of healing within the opposition leadership — and by Jove, Zimbabwe needs it.

After all, while it is clearly understandable that Zanu PF bigwigs will always fight each to death in their faction-riddled party — due to rich pickings and a real slice of the patronage system, and access to resources which include diamonds, multiple farms and fat State tenders like those unmasked by the media over the past few weeks — there is absolutely nothing to engage in mortal combat for those in the MDC.

In fact, for most of the party’s supporters and activists there is only pain, poverty, sacrifice and a trifling of drying donor funds to look forward to — rendering the current orgy of intra-party chaos utterly useless.

There is one final point to be made, though.

By now, one is sure that most Zimbabweans understand that when a party loses as badly as the MDC did in last year’s plebiscite, there was always going to be some blood-letting.

And the shattering reality, and pain of such a heavy defeat is always such that both confusion, and paralysis and reign — and people always look for easy answers out and scapegoating sets in.

Unfortunately for the MDC leadership and the country, and as inviting as that path may be, it is a highway to Hell and must be avoided at all costs as this country can ill-afford that.

So the hope is that Biti’s interview with the Daily News, and his clarification of his position, will reset the MDC’s moral and political compass, so that the party can keep its eyes on the ball at this crucial time of Zimbabwe’s history.

Comments (4)

Well said Daily News, my heart was bleeding. its common cause that the aftermath would always be tricky and these cat fights were unavoidable. now that the leadership is finding common ground, i can only smile. while Biti could be faulted for busting, mai makone, chamisa, komichi, machingauta and company showed their true colours- berefit of leadership quality, they should have been concilliatory in their speeches at rallies. Thanks Mwonzora for saying that the lawyer in biti will soon see sense. am proud of my SG. main objective - democracy & prosperity

Learnmore Machingauta - 13 March 2014

Well said.Let sanity prevail...remember some lost life, limb and property fort the cause. If you cannot fix internal party contradictions in a civilised and dignified manner what about national problems. Musadaro varume.Handizvo!

Godfrey - 13 March 2014

Its too late. The likes of Chamisa, Makone et al has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that they are not fit to run the affairs of this country given their kindergarten utterances in licking Tsvangson. the cat is well out of the bag as to how useless and childish they are.

Pretty - 13 March 2014

Biti is petty..he did not need to punch below the waist to prove a point against Tsvangirayi..He can try all trickery but his star is gone..That he is a mediocre voluble somebody was never in doubt but that he would sink to this level reveals a side to him that is so UGLY. If anything no serious political party would want to have anything to do with him. It is just like his boss who seems for some strange reason believe that he is some superman when his performance on the ground is anything but! A fair congress would rid the party of both these clowns..With upwards of a million members the MDC can do so much better than these two..of course not forgetting one Chairman Moyo and parrot Chamisa. The MDC will said on 'super cruise' if they ditch these four clowns.

gutter poet - 15 March 2014

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