Maxwell Sibanda 12 January 2018
HARARE – The MDC’s youth and women’s assemblies should not behave like
leagues of the “old” Zanu PF who, against all logic, wanted former
President Robert Mugabe to remain party candidate for this year’s election
despite his advanced age and ill health.
I was surprised at the MDC’s wings’ recent reactions to Morgan
Tsvangirai’s intimation at retirement to pave way for a younger leader for
The wings, aided by some senior MDC members were angered by Tsvagirai’s
announcement, saying they wouldn’t allow him to step down regardless of
the fact that he is battling ill health, hence cannot manage to run the
full race when it comes to rigorous campaigning ahead of this year’s
I would have thought that Tsvangirai, in hinting that he would pass on the
baton, was doing it in the interest of the party, for continuity and a
smooth succession process.
The MDC structures and some of its members could also have misread
Tsvangirai’s intention in announcing this because I believe it was meant
to be a soft landing in which he was preparing his party for this imminent
And just like in the “old” Zanu PF, these people advocating for Tsvangirai
to stay put know deep in the hearts that it is the right thing for him to
step down and have enough time to recuperate.
In the “old” Zanu PF, when the issue of Mugabe retiring and passing the
baton was raised, the women and youth leagues were so furious and insisted
that the former president would rule forever, regardless of his health and
It is interesting to note that while these Zanu PF wings defended Mugabe’s
continued rule, they were the first ones who after his dethronement were
cheering and saying he should have gone long back. They agreed that Mugabe
needed some rest.
Apart from the two wings, there were also several high profile Zanu PF
politicians who did not want Mugabe to go regardless. We saw these also
celebrating after his demise.
Come 2018, we are having the same scenario playing out in the MDC politics
were guns are blazing as some factions in the MDC are adamant that
Tsvangirai is going nowhere and will stand as their presidential candidate
Just like the former first lady’s famous salvo they would rather have the
MDC leader voted and have him rule even if it meant his supporters pushing
him around in a wheelbarrow!
It seems there are high-ranking officials at the MDC who want to hold
Tsvangirai hostage for their selfish needs; they know if Tsvangirai steps
down then they will lose out.
They would rather, like what the G40 used to do with Mugabe, keep an
ailing Tsvangirai than surrender power to someone else.
That Tsvangirai is a popular brand among its members and the generality of
Zimbabweans is not a secret at all. That Tsvangirai is the only one who
defeated Mugabe at an election is also not under dispute.
But the man has said it himself because he, his family and doctors are the
only ones who know his health status.
Why then should the MDC force a man to stay at the helm of the party when
he feels he has done enough and wants to rest so as to recover? Why punish
The MDC president has not said he is leaving the party altogether and even
if he steps down, he will remain an elder and the party’s founding
Tsvangirai has run his race and Zimbabweans must thank him for being the
opposition leader to stand against Mugabe at a time opposition politics
was taboo and dangerous.
During the Government of National Unity, Tsvangirai as Prime Minister
played a sterling role in stabilising the country.
I am sorry to say it is a pity that MDC is not Zanu PF where the army will
have to come in and solve the party succession issue.
However, MDC is a people’s party and the people will have to come in and
organise their party before factionalism tears the party apart.