Ncube sending wrong message

HARARE - During my time as a reporter I always looked forward to having interviews with politicians, musicians and athletes who gave me riveting stuff.

If it was not riveting, it was controversial stuff.

In my reasonably long career which is almost nearing 22 years, I regard Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti, Thomas Mapfumo and Lovemore Madhuku as great interviewees.

These guys are forthright and do not hold back where they feel they have to express their views on a particular subject.

I still regard my Question and Answer with Ncube on a wintry Friday in June 2013 — near Madzivire Secondary School in Nharira, Chikomba — as my best interview with the newly-installed spokesperson of the MDC Alliance.

Ncube was launching his election campaign ahead of the harmonised elections.

In that interview, he pulled no punches and in between, I was laughing as he laid his plans for Zimbabwe, in case he became the new president.

However, last week, Ncube said something which was not a laughing matter at all.

True to form, he was forthright and direct in his criticism of politicians and ordinary Zimbabweans who are either encouraging debate on Morgan Tsvangirai fitness to remain active in politics or those openly discussing his health issues.

Tsvangirai has said he is battling cancer of the colony.

However, his admission, which is quite laudable given the position he holds in society — including being an alternative to President Robert Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF- has divided opinion among his followers.

And Ncube waded into the saga recently when he was addressing journalists in Bulawayo, when he said it was wrong to discuss Tsvangirai’s health.

“It’s a great pity that in our country we now lack the decency of humanity.

“I just find it astonishing. Just about my upbringing in every respect tells me that we should not have a conversation like that, at all. It’s in bad taste, it’s unAfrican, unedifying, think of any other adjective, this is not the right thing to do,” Ncube told journalists.

This was quite staggering considering that Ncube, Tsvangirai and indeed ordinary Zimbabweans, have often criticised Mugabe for not disclosing his health status which they claim is the reason why he makes frequent trips to Singapore.

Mugabe, 93, officially is said to have eye problems which require him to see specialist doctors regularly.

Refreshingly, government has been forthcoming about Mugabe’s Far East medical trips — where previously all matters related to the president’s health were ill-advisedly dealt with as a major State secret.

Mugabe is the only leader we have known since we gained independence from the British in April 1980, and at 93, it is natural that from time to time he has to report a medical complaint.

So if it is okay for all of us to know and talk about Mugabe’s health why then should it be unAfrican and taboo to freely question whether Tsvangirai is still fit to be involved with the demanding job of politics especially when we are a few months away from holding elections?

Just like Mugabe, Tsvangirai holds a very big position and his fitness has a bearing on how Zimbabweans are going to vote in next year’s elections — whether he is going to be the face of the opposition’s coalition or not — because he is a big factor in Zimbabwe’s wretched politics.

We must never shy away from talking about his health especially when there are so many question marks regarding transparency on who should be leading the MDC in his absence.

I am sure Ncube knows that the majority of Zimbabweans are asking whether Tsvangirai will be contesting Mugabe in 2018 or not.

The absence of a clear direction, I am not saying Tsvangirai won’t get there, impacts negatively on the MDC and the opposition generally.

It does not help matters that Ncube on one hand, as the MDC Alliance spokesperson, says don’t talk about Tsvangirai’s health issues and on the other, MDC senior official Eddie Cross, remains consistent in his view on his president’s health which he says is not looking good.

Ncube must never underestimate the power of the electorate, like what he has just done with his ill-advised “decree” to all those willing to know and discuss the health of Tsvangirai.

As sharp and strategic as he is, Ncube should know when to say certain things.

This is not the time for double speak neither is it for sending wrong messages.

    Comments (2)

    Nothing wrong with what Ncube said. If and when the MDC Alliance sees the need to say any different about MRT's health then they will let us know. To hound them for a particular answer to your question is as good as answering it yourself. So don't sulk when you don't get YOUR desired response.

    Mumate - 5 November 2017

    Ncube simply said you should not continue to discuss and speculated when Tsvangirai himself has already told you that he has a health condition. Ncube is only saying what benefit is it to the nation for reporters to continue probing things that personal, of life and death, especially considering that the person in question is in agony. The reporter wants to be academic for nothing. The reporter actually agrees with what Ncube is saying. For the President, people have not beein clamouring for inner inner details by just enough information about the president's health status so that people are not shocked one morning. The reporter wants to agree that ever since the Govt started informing the public on the President's health, speculative reports in the press have dwindled.

    Charmie Mwendamberi - 9 November 2017

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