The Politics of the MDC-T


The former Prime Minster and long-time leader of the MDC-T opposition party has been laid to rest after an arduous battle with cancer.



Indeed he fought a good political fight in his time and will certainly be remembered in the history of Zimbabwe as one of the country’s leading lights, particularly in the post-independence and post land-reform phases of our history.



However, his greatest shortfall (as with most African leaders) is that he failed to resolve the succession issue in his party timeously.



Put plainly he did not have in place a succession plan by the time of his departure.



I have argued before, and I will state again here that clear succession plans should be explicitly put in place in every institution, especially if the institution intends to ensure that there is continuity after its leader departs.



This is true in families, family businesses, corporates, political parties, and any other form of organization.



Every institution must have a clear and explicit formal succession plan.



Having said that, recent events in the MDC-T serve as examples of how things go terribly bad when succession is not handled well in politics.



Zeal without Knowledge



Proverbs 19:12 reads “desire without knowledge is not good how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”



Like many Zimbabweans, I marvelled at the haste with which Nelson Chamisa and his faction anointed themselves as heirs to Dr. Tsvangirai’s throne almost immediately after Morgan Tsvangirai’s death was announced.



In fact before the late opposition party leader’s body had arrived at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International airport, Chamisa and crew had already called for a National Council meeting which hastily elevated Chamisa to the position of acting President for a 12 month period.



Immediately after that National Council meeting, pastor Chamisa addressed a song-and dance rally outside of Harvest House during which he declared himself leader to the unsuspecting and impressionable crowds of the MDC-T political laity who were innocently waiting to hear about Dr Tsvangirai’s funeral arrangements.



Instead, they were mischievously misled into believing that Nelson Chamisa was their new leader.



Yet, by calling for the 14 February 2018 meeting at Harvest House, and furthermore by addressing his self-anointing rally on the same day, Nelson Chamisa showed the world his unbridled desire to be president of the MDC-T, and his willingness to exercise haste in order to achieve those ends, yet foolishly so.



If Nelson Chamisa is as popular as he assumes he is, then why couldn’t he wait a few days for Dr. Tsvangirai to be buried before engaging in his succession politics?



It is my view that the rally held by Nelson Chamisa’s faction on February 14 outside of Harvest House was the major cause for the violent episodes that we saw during Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral.



The fact is that the crowds that he addressed on 14 February consisted of youths, undoubtedly inflamed on chibuku, bronco and cheap liquor, who then took pastor Chamisa’s populism as gospel and that is where the danger began.




That was his first mistake.



Violence is Inexcusable



We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.Nelson Mandela



In 2014, the then MDC-T deputy treasury-general, Elton Mangoma and secretary-general, Tendai Biti were assaulted by a group of party youths for allegedly calling for leadership renewal in the party.



At the time they said they were attacked by “a drunken mob” and it was alleged that Nelson Chamisa was not far from the violence when Mangoma et al got thumped.



You see the reason why nobody believes Nelson Chamisa’s statements attempting to distance himself from the violent episodes at Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral, is because he has been suspected of instigating violence before.



In fact a 2014 report of the Elton Mangoma related mayhem stated that “a four-minute, six seconds security video taken during the melee… saw Mangoma beaten up with punches and slaps all over his body by party youths, places Chamisa smack dab in the center of the incensed crowd, a few minutes before the assault.



“Standing amongst the crowd, which was singing and chanting, baying for Mangoma’s blood, snapshots from the video show Chamisa relating to some of the gathered youths.”



You see, given his reported participation in Mangoma’s 2014 attack, it is difficult to believe that Chamisa was not involved in the violence at Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral, or in Dr. Khupe’s 2017 attack for that matter.



It is also therefore difficult to believe his statements distancing himself from the recent drama.



Given the intra-party violence that has occurred in the MDC-T in recent times at the alleged instigation of Chamisa, firstly against Mangoma and Biti and later against Khupe, one could be forgiven for thinking that pastor Chamisa is thuggish.




Apparently they charged “Chamisa, Chamisa” as they charged at a retreating Dr. Khupe.



All this unethical tomfoolery brings to mind the saying “You can take the homeboy out of Kuwadzana East, but you can’t take Kuwadzana East out of the homeboy.”



For a long time the nation has given Nelson Chamisa the benefit of the doubt, saying he’s youthful and educated.



However based upon recent events, it would seem he’s also power-hungry and violent.



His haste and desire for power have made him miss the way. That’s unbecoming of the political pastor.



My own view is that Nelson Chamisa is politically immature, and cannot capably fit the shoes of the late Dr. Morgan Tsvangirai. First it was his Trump and 15billion debacle and now this.



I think it is safe to say that Nelson Chamisa a local leader that should be confined to Kuwadzana East. He is not a national leader and in fact he has a lot of growing up to do politically.



Furthermore, my perception is that the constitutional leader of the MDC-T is Dr. Khupe, and she should be in charge of the party until the next congress.



Also, it would seem that Nelson Chamisa’s shenanigans have discredited him as a potential leader of the MDC-Alliance, and it is probable that Dr. Joice Mujuru will soon become the new face of the coalition.


Tau Tawengwa


Executive Director




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Zimbabwe 2018 election: Ethics versus Prosperity


On Thursday 15 February 2018, I was part of the crowd outside Harvest House in Harare listening to Nelson Chamisa and crew politicking, and appearing to anoint themselves as Dr Morgan Tsvangirai’s successors a few hours after his passing, and days before he was laid to rest.



What many people thought would be memorial rally in honour of the former Prime minister at Harvest House, turned out to be a rally which saw Nelson Chamisa’s faction declaring themselves as the rightful heirs to the MDC-T throne.



The event seemed distasteful to many who attended desiring to honour Morgan Tsvangirai, and not to participate in MDC-T factionalism.



That matter got me thinking about whether or not our politicians still consider ethics in politics, or do they seek power at all costs?



Interestingly, in town on the same day, I overheard a conversation between two youthful gentleman, during which one said to another “kana zvisingasungise muZimbabwe hazvina mari (if the business you are doing in Zimbabwe is not illegal it is not profitable.”



This made me ask if we, as a citizens still consider ethics in our day to day lives, or are we out for prosperity at all costs?



All this made me recall a research project I steered in a Pentecostal church in Pretoria some years ago.



The aim of that research was to determine what social benefits the church’s brand of ‘prosperity gospel’ had for the wider Pretoria community.



After an insightful period of twelve months, the research was concluded, and it was found that the church’s “prosperity gospel” did indeed inspire members of the congregation to aspire for prosperity and consequently to engage in various forms of enterprise and ingenuity in attempt to achieve that end.



Yet, one fundamental question kept on arising: do the church members pursue wealth using moral methods? Or do they attempt to achieve prosperity by any means necessary, irrespective of morality?



Put plainly, in our contemporary society is morality still important in the pursuit of wealth?



In the course of that research, I found that many church members engaged in dubious practices in their pursuit of wealth.



This was not surprising, because that particular church was an inner-city congregation located in an area well known for unemployment, informal sector trade, violent crime, substance abuse, and prostitution.



In fact some members of that church were rumoured to be hard criminals, yet they faithfully attended church, paid tithes and offerings and believed with all their hearts that they too could attain the ‘blessings’ of prosperity.



That old research seems relevant approach the harmonized elections.




Politics and Ethics



Prosperity is a key theme of political party manifestos at election time.



The various political manifestos will propose how they intend to bring prosperity to the country, and improve the lives of our people.



Already, we have heard politicians pronounce how they were promised 15billion.



Such pronouncements beg the question: do our politicians consider national ethics when they make us promises about national prosperity?



The difference between ethics and morals, is that morals are subjective and usually inspired by an individual’s religious beliefs, while ethics are commonly recognised despite an individual’s religion.



For instance, a follower of traditional religion may believe that polygamy is moral, while a Christian may believe that it is in fact immoral.



Yet, from an ethical perspective, both the tradionalist and the Christian will agree that spousal abuse is illegal and therefore unethical, despite their contrasting moral standpoints.



While morals deal with people’s personal beliefs, ethics refer to general codes of conduct.



Now, since the year 2000 Zimbabwe has suffered economic decay that has affected citizens across political persuasions.



Yet, ironically, one could argue that the nation has become morally stronger since 2000, despite our economic regression.



This is because in the midst of our economic backslide, our country has seen vast growth in the religiosity of our citizens with ninety percent of Zimbabweans belonging to Protestant or apostolic religions in 2018 as compared to sixty percent in 2000.



Yet being moral doesn’t make you ethical, and perhaps we can agree that since 2000 corruption has become endemic in Zimbabwean society.



In fact recent Transparency International reports state that Zimbabwe is the most corrupt country in Southern Africa, and one of the most corrupt countries in Africa- this despite our intense religiosity.



We are the most religious (and perhaps moral) country in Southern Africa, yet we are also the most corrupt, and therefore unethical.



We have become a people that wholeheartedly pursues power, profit and prosperity without considering ethics.



We are a conflicted nation.



Nevertheless the 2018 elections provides a golden opportunity for our politicians to begin the process of reintroducing ethics to our people.



So far, I commend president Emmerson Mnangagwa for his consistent calls for investment and his reiterations that Zimbabwe is open for business, while simultaneously saying that the new dispensation has a ‘zero-tolerance approach’ to corruption.



This is a bold first step towards reigniting an ethical society.



If government continues to take firm action against corruption and other unscrupulous behaviours, then people will think twice before engaging in unethical conduct.



In this light it was encouraging to see the flamboyant Wicknell Chivayo appearing before parliament this week.



In the past, Chivayo’s open profligacy and social media pronouncements had embittered many citizens.



For instance in April 2016 he reportedly posted a picture on social media with the caption: “Had dinner in Dubai yesterday with my mother (Grace Mugabe) and my little brother (Robert Jnr).



“I love my parents…Mungandi dii? Hapana kana zvamunondiita (What can you do to me? There is nothing that anyone can do to me).”



For the record this is Wicknell Chivayo, the self-confessed ex-con, who told parliament that he has no qualifications, yet he allegedly somehow, a few years ago managed to convince government ministers to advance him seven million dollars for a project which to date has never materialised.



He did this, in a country with ninety percent underemployment, and graduates that sell airtime and live with their parents.



Perhaps I’m wrong, but I say that controversial Wicknell Chivayo deal portrays how unethical our society had become.



Ethics should be reflected in Politics



As we approach elections, my hope is that the positive rhetoric that we have been hearing from president Mnangangwa with respect to corruption and ethics goes beyond talk and becomes enunciated potential policy in the various political manifestos, so that the talk of building an ethical society becomes national policy post-elections.



We have examples across the world of countries that have managed to restore ethics after years of decline.



China for instance has had a far-reaching campaign against corruption since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012 steered by that country’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).



Also Singapore (considered to be one of the most ethical societies in the world) seems to have won the war on corruption through strong political will, and by institutionalising a robust, comprehensive anti-corruption framework that spans laws, law-enforcement, the public service and public outreach.



In any case, it should be the priority of our political leaders to achieve sustainable prosperity alongside ethics beyond the 2018 elections.



If we build our reputation as an ethical country, with an ethical workforce and an ethical policy framework then naturally investment and revenue will follow.



Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director


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