After Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai lost the battle on whether the party should contest in the reintroduced Senate in 2005 or not, he wrote: “in politics, apparent victories may be illusions….”
Tsvangirai was opposed to the party contesting in the Senate elections but party secretary-general Welshman Ncube had mobilised the leadership to vote to contest and Tsvangirai lost. A few months later the party split resulting in what was later to become MDC-T. Ncube retained the original name.
Tsvangirai wrote in his book: At the deep end: “I had spent a better part of my tenure babysitting some of my highly unpopular colleagues, including Ncube. I fought hard for collective responsibility, only to take the flak each time things went awry, often without the collective defence and support of those I had shielded. For a long time, these senior politicians insisted that I should never address a meeting alone. They all wanted to be where I was, especially at mass rallies, in order to benefit from my personal political brand. My colleagues were simply riding on my popularity, in the forlorn hope that part of it would rub off on to them. They were uncomfortable with me as a person and a leader…..”
One gets the feeling that what was happening to Tsvangirai more than a decade ago is what is happening to MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa. Everyone around him is riding on his popularity. They are always with him- at rallies, at demonstrations and at funerals.
Chamisa has committed a lot of leadership blunders but everyone is turning a blind eye because all they want is for Chamisa to secure a victory for the party at the coming elections. After that they will get rid of him. After all Chamisa breached the party constitution to assume leadership but his colleagues ignored that because they wanted him to serve their purpose.
But more importantly Chamisa was given only a year to lead the party, that is, until March next year. There is only nine months between the time the new president is sworn in and March. So if Chamisa wins the elections there is a very high likelihood that he might be forced to leave after nine months. Some might argue that it will be easier for him to be endorsed as party leader, but the Zimbabwe constitution says if someone is elected but is removed before the end of his or her term, the party can nominate someone else to complete the term. This means, it will be to the party’s advantage to remove him rather to Chamisa’s. Mnangagwa is doing that right now. He is completing Mugabe’s term. Kgalema Motlanthe did that when Thabo Mbeki was kicked out before completing his term. Cyril Ramaphosa is completing Jacob Zuma’s term.
Continued next page