Devious democracy and deceptive alternatives

Micheal Mhlanga

To best describe the character of MDC Alliance from where I am standing, I draw an excerpt from Luis Bernado Honwana’s We Killed Mangy Dog.

In his Voice he says: “Mangy-Dog spent most of his time sleeping but sometimes he walked, and then I liked to watch him, with his bones all sticking out of his thin body, and his old skin full of white scars, and lots of sores. I never saw Mangy-Dog run, and I really don’t know if he could, because he was always trembling all over even though it wasn’t cold, and swaying his head to and fro like an Ox, and taking such crazy steps that he looked like a rickety old cart”.

Mangy Dog would best represent what was a coalition whose intention was to dislodge Robert Mugabe, who is not politically indispensable at the moment. Their purpose in life was to protect the interests of the masses that had been ravaged by Robert Mugabe however, for more almost two decades, like Mangy-Dog they had failed to live up to the billing of being scary, strong and protective like what is expected of a dog. Let me use Honwana’s lens in articulating the developments in the crumbling coalition, sermoning realities that most are in denial of.

Firstly, there is no more coalition in the MDC camp, it is now a Political party and “small guys” like Biti and Welsh are so ashamed to admit it. They were blind when the volcanic clash between MaKhuphe and Chamisa erupted, theirs was a thirst and hunger to save faces and souls from political desolation after one’s ouster from PDP and the other’s dreadful and imminent political ghostly after these elections.

Let me say, in most instances, a grand coalition is a death sentence to viable political parties. However, observation shows that only terminally ill political parties contemplate the prospect of grand coalitions as a last shot at survival and this is exactly what happened to the most principled lawyers who compromised principle for political survival and expediency.

Like Mangy-Dog, we have always watched opposition, “with his bones all sticking out of his thin body, and his old skin full of white scars, and lots of sores”. Since inception in 1999, MDC has been in brawls with and of itself. The bones sticking out of his thin body tell of bankruptcy that has battered them. For a long time being financed as a regime change project, the West had become weary of failed sponsored thinking to the extent of opting to engage the establishment. For the first time in history they are broke and are struggling to finance their campaign and that is dreary for their political marketing and the rewards are obvious. Like Mangy-Dog, skeletal appearance is a sign of abject poverty, sanctioned hunger and an institutionalised lack of a plan to politically resurrect.

The sores and scars are evidence of battles mostly lost because a hero not only survives, but avoids brutal stamps at all costs.

The Alliance is a product of 2005, 2013 and 2017 multiple violent splits that have cost limbs, lives and eyes to many. Mangy-Dog’s scars and sores narrate an agonising story of copious battle fatalities and are a testimony of undoubted weakness: That is why Honwana tells of Mangy-Dog not scaring chickens to the point of cringing for a dust mound made by hens to relax: how comical and pointless Mangy-Dog is.

The sores will not heal anytime soon as the Alliance has brewed a battle for itself. This time Zanu-PF is not their enemy, unknowingly, they are going to the ballot box to contest other opposition parties and within themselves. The exchange of verbs and insinuations of uselessness have become suburban in the campers’ mouth.

After the nomination court scuffle where Welshman’s candidates in Matabeleland North and South were denied signatures and MDC-T candidates were imposed, the battle has already begun before they knew it. Undemocratic tendencies of imposing Chamisa’s camp candidates has erupted and this has left Welsh’s camp so vulnerable that for the next five years they will not taste parliament benefits. Coupled with those succeeding to register, not in their party names but as MDC Alliance-a party, it means that their President is Nelson Chamisa who has power to recall people from parliament after July 30.

What has literally happened is that the coalition is no longer a convergence of parties to support a single Presidential candidate but still retaining their party name and agreeing not to contest each other. They have been warped into and under a single registered party-MDC Alliance and PDP kaBiti and MDC led by Welshman no longer exist and we shall not see them on the ballot paper, at least on July 30. Everyone contesting under the Alliance banner is subject to the Alliance’s dictates and should they not satisfy the leaders, they risk being recalled.

Before July 30, Welshman’s camp is showing displeasure at the betrayal and undemocratic character which they had divorced in 2005. They momentarily forgot that the survivors of Tsvangirai’s class are the ones whom they endorsed in place of Thokozani Khuphe — slow thinking.

There is a high likelihood of Welshman’s almost 2013’s 92 000 disappointing the Alliance. They are an irate lot who feel the leader’s choice has cost them their choices and they are willing to mutely punish such ruse. They didn’t opt into this Alliance, they were led into it with promises of numerous yields which have dubiously vanished.

On the other side is post-election where clashes are imminent when the Alliance fails to win the Presidency and scores a meagre 30%. Chances of the elections being out rightly declared free, fair and credible with a Zanu-PF win are definite and that will ignite blemishes and blames in the Alliance camp. Dear reader, we are headed for an alliance split after elections should it not happen sooner before elections. However, there are some who managed to be nominated like Edwin Ndlovu for Bulawayo Ward 8 who in 2013 was in Welsh’s camp and dismally lost the National Assembly. This time it was reported that he had to speedily drive to Masvingo and back in less than three hours for a six-hour drive (talk of the need for speed traps on the highway) just to get his papers signed by the Alliance cabal. Should people like Edwin win, one wonders if they would subscribe to an MDC led by Welshman split.

There are less chances of them choosing to be recalled from Council Chambers just because they have chosen to follow a losing lot. This is their ticket into “looting” (as most opposition councillors do), something they have been desperate for, so should they choose a party, and the MDC Alliance is their party so it means those who are going to split are those who are not in power at all. Welshman will lose some more of his trusted minions who have graduated to dignitaries.
Mangy-Dog is already limping, he is shaking already even when it’s not cold and demanding the photos of voters and wanting to visit us in our homes — eish! This is dangerous, people we did not agree to disclose our information to now have access to all that information just for US$20,00? It opens up for identity theft after elections, but anyway, will talk about that some other day. Mangy-Dog in his insalubrious stupor is not stable and has been making frivolous demands and accusations like how he is important than the British Embassy who used to be his go-to-guy just yesterday. Mangy-Dog has come out disparaging the access to the voters’ roll first by those he would castigate the establishment for, for not giving the voters roll, now Mangy-Dog is visibly shacking, he has no agenda and even when basking in the warmest sun, he still is shaking, surely counting down to the day Faruk pulls him down with a rope, now he can’t escape fate, they definitely will kill Mangy-Dog (democratically of course).

With evident bankruptcy, a repetition of deception, an angry section of the Alliance surely becoming a faction, the Party-Alliance has succeeded in consolidating its base in the largest coalition but that will be short lived. We are going for splits in the Alliance where in much of the constituencies they will win we shall have by-elections. After July 30, it will dawn on those who used to be Transform Zimbabwe, PDP and MDC that circumstances bedevilling the MDC-T forced them into conscripting into a party that was not.

For Advocate Man-of–the-Cloth, this is a victory, a victory not to be celebrated of course because one cannot celebrate hungry. To him and those he left the MDC-T with, it is still an achievement because they eliminated their long time arch-nemesis, Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube whom they left in 2014 and 2005 respectively. This time in Ndebele bazayifunda ivaliwe.

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