Time has an uncanny habit of exposing hypocrisy, and often times, vindicating formally perceived villains. It is a double-edged sword. In Zimbabwe, time has helped us unravel the duplicitous behaviour of some of our political players in a damning fashion.
The opposition, mainly the MDC-Alliance, has often, albeit for political expedience, cried foul over alleged electoral malpractices in national elections. That party has always used allegations of intimidation, electoral fraud, tinkered voters’ roll, violence, among a litany of unfounded complaints, all aimed at obfuscating the electoral process and to push for electoral reform, as well as justify its poor performance during elections.
One would ordinarily think that, it is a party which stands for democracy. A party that thinks democracy. A party that breathes democracy. A party of excellence in democracy. But time is a troublesome child. It pesters you today, exposes your yesterday and shames you in posterity. The MDC vaunts itself as a movement for democratic change, an acronym that presupposes that it prides itself as a custodian of democracy, both internally and externally.
However, history and time have chosen to be brutal on this movement. It has turned out to be a movement for undemocratic change.
The death of Morgan Tsvangirai (may his soul continue to rest in peace), that party’s inevitable loss in the 30 July, 2018 and the delayed congress to be held in May 2019, have all conspired to expose the shocking democracy deficit in the MDC-Alliance.
Congress: The violence
The jostling for posts ahead of the MDC-Alliance congress has exposed the party as an anti-thesis of democracy. It is an autocracy, where village politics is the order of the day. Wary of the threat to his disputed leadership of the Alliance, coming from secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora, and vice president, Elias Mudzuri, Nelson Chamisa unleashed his Vanguard hooligans in Harare to threaten and intimidate his rivals.
The hooligans led by provincial youth assembly vice chairman, Stan Manyenga, held a presser, where they declared that Chamisa was not going to be contested by anyone, and that anybody, who would do that was an enemy of that party.
There is residual fear in the MDC, where violence has been consistently used to cow down opponents, dating as far back as 2005, when the initial split occurred. Time is deadly, it exposes duplicity. Welshman Ncube, Trudy Stevenson, Elton Mangoma, Tendai Biti, Thokozani Khupe, just to mention a few, have all been attacked by the infamous Democratic Resistance Committee, now aptly called the Vanguard.
It is hypocritical, if not shocking, that a party with a glittering history of undemocratic behaviour internally finds fault with peaceful national elections. The last elections were held in a peaceful, tolerant environment, which was only sullied after the plebiscite when the MDC-Alliance instigated bloody riots on 1 August, 2018.
Tampering with voter registers
The MDC-Alliance has oft claimed that ZANU-PF tinkers with the voters’ roll to win elections, an issue that Government “addressed” to appease that party through the implementation of the Biometric Voters’ Roll. Despite this gesture of goodwill, the MDC-Alliance still dismally lost the election.
Ahead of the MDC-Alliance congress, there are irrefutable reports published by a private newspaper with sympathies for that party, which note that there is internecine factional fighting in the party’s restructuring exercise ahead of Congress.
Party bigwigs are doctoring dodgy party lists of structures at branch, ward and district level with a view to influence the electoral college that will vote at the main congress. MDC-Alliance organising secretary, Amos Chibaya, is at sixes and sevens on which lists to use for the restructuring since there are three lists, one each for the Chamisa, Mwonzora and Mudzuri factions. It is dog-eat-dog. Is this democracy? A party that questions the integrity of the national voters’ roll, itself does not even have one. This is hypocrisy writ large.
The violent skirmishes in the MDC-Alliance culminated in the circulation of a video of an MDC-Alliance district organising secretary being pummelled by irate pro-Chamisa hooligans for having expunged or excluded pro-Chamisa members on her list. Whatever the case, the outcome of the MDC-Alliance congress will be a sham. It will be undemocratic. It will be rigged.
Suspensions to eliminate opponents
Chamisa’s henchmen, realising the real and present threat being posed by Mwonzora to their principal’s ambitions of being elected president, systematically started eliminating pro-Mudzuri and Mwonzora party leaders in lower structures.
History has treated Chamisa harshly after being soundly beaten by Mwonzora to the secretary-general’s post. They cannot allow history to repeat itself again.
It is common cause that anyone under disciplinary proceedings is automatically disqualified from participating in party programmes, including the restructuring exercise ahead of congress.
Wary of these shenanigans, Mwonzora, as secretary-general, has moved to veto any suspensions and expulsions ahead of congress, declaring that all disciplinary issues will have to be sanctioned by the standing committee.
This is not democracy — bringing spurious and contrived allegations against fellow party members as a tool of subverting democracy.
The sustained use of intimidation, coercion, threats of violence, name-calling and labelling is being systematically employed by the Chamisa faction to cow down lower structures from nominating either Mwonzora or Mudzuri from contesting Chamisa. Recently, during a rally in Mutare, a hired crowd that had been given money and placards booed and disrupted Mwonzora from speaking, labelling him a sell-out for challenging Chamisa.
Chauvinism and nudity
As if the foregoing undemocratic politics in the MDC-Alliance are not enough, there is palpable chauvinism and sexism aimed at alienating women from positions of leadership. There is a calculated effort to disenfranchise women in a similar manner that former MDC-T co-vice president, Thokozani Khupe, was elbowed out of that party based on her sexuality by Chamisa.
MDC-Alliance’s ward 28 candidate for Cowdray Park, Collet Ndlovu, said that, “women need men in positions of power because they are afraid, hence if crushed, they keep quiet.” Such crude, sexist and out-of-sync comments about women during Women’s month, fly in the face of women emancipation.
They come straight from Chamisa’s uncivilised playbook, where he has previously placed a bet to give off his sister, if he lost to President Mnangagwa, a promise he is yet to deliver.
The male chauvinism in the MDC-Alliance has reached a crescendo, with nude pictures of Kariba deputy mayor, Farai Magevha, being leaked on social media as a way of elbowing her out ahead of the restructuring exercise.
Chamisa-aligned hawks have started processes to institute disciplinary proceedings against her for being a victim of a leak that exposed her womanhood.
It is equally shameful that the so-called motley host of pro-democracy activists have choose to draw misplaced and false similarities between the undemocratic actions of the MDC-Alliance to ZANU-PF.
They cannot stomach the reality that ZANU-PF is an institution with known structures and is a stickler for constitutionalism.
In chastising the MDC-Alliance’s undemocratic practices, they cunningly rope in ZANU-PF.
It is trite that the duplicitous and hypocritical behaviour of the Movement for Undemocratic Change be exposed for what it is.
The MDC-Alliance approaches Government with dirty hands on matters electoral.
Their leader is an unelected individual who grabbed power at a funeral.
His conduct, and that of his acolytes, would make most dictators green with envy. Zimbabwean politics will remain poor with an undemocratic opposition which believes in archaic politics that are anti-democracy. The MDC-Alliance does not walk the talk on democracy.
It must practice what it preaches, not to practice what it preaches against.