People First threat to MDC-T existence

via People First threat to MDC-T existence – NewZimbabwe 23/01/2016 by Dr Tapiwa Shumba

SAD as it may sound to those of us who invested their youth towards democratic change in Zimbabwe, the reality is that all human and natural permutations are consistent with the imminent decline of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) owing to the excitement around the emergence of People First (PF). It is not hidden knowledge that all things, at some point, come to an end.

Of course, it is too simplistic to say that a political party faces extinction simply because of the emergence of another political party. However, in the case of the MDC this view is not that entirely simplistic. It is supported by concrete events in the lifespan of the movement itself. In fact, no one tells a better story of the decline of the MDC than the MDC itself.

The MDC was formed in 1999 and rose to prominence on the backdrop of the economic decline registered around early 2000. So charismatic and powerful was the MDC around 2000 and 2002 that it enjoyed tremendous support from the people; support enough for it to wrestle power from Zanu PF. But it didn’t. The support enjoyed by the MDC would drop in the 2005 election due to, mainly, poor leadership and lack of strategy which saw power struggles and infighting ahead of national elections.

With the economic and political situation worsening towards the 2008 elections, the MDC rebound was inevitable. The party regained its political base and almost capitalised on the ruling party’s apparent inefficiencies in dealing with the dire economic challenges that saw hyperinflation precipitated by a worthless currency and empty shelves. The MDC won the 2008 election but did not win power.

Perhaps, the MDC’s participation in the government of national unity saved the country from total collapse and helped restore political and economic stability but instead of propelling the MDC further and presenting it as the better alternative, remarkably, all that good work backfired. Not for any other reason except that whilst the MDC was astute on its economic agenda it was naïve in its political strategy.

The 2013 election represented the last genuine hope for the MDC to wrestle power from Zanu PF outside any miraculous intervention from supernatural forces. It is not complicated to see how the MDC lost in 2013. Arithmetically, if you don’t win an election in 2008 as the opposition, you cannot win it in 2013.

The reason why PF will sweep the MDC’s political base is because for all those people that genuinely long for change, the less delusional know that the MDC can only now realistically lose more ground than it can gain. The MDC cannot register a new high beyond 2008. It had its fair chance and that opportunity was missed because of poor leadership and strategy.

That is not to say the MDC will suddenly disappear; surely not. It will maintain a good but inadequate following simply because for those that have sacrificed their time and lives for the party, they would rather believe that a miracle will raise their party from the dead than imagine the reality that the sun will soon set on it. But for the rest, including those that have left the main MDC to join or form other political parties, the courage to accept this and refocus the struggle is a clear sign of faith drain.

The major reason why there is so much excitement about PF than with the emergence of any other political party during the life of the MDC is that for the first time people have come to a true and reasonable understanding that the MDC will never get a better chance than it has lost so far. People are not prepared to continue to support a party that has no hope of winning and taking power and the MDC now clearly seems to be that party.

Worse still, besides tame and meaningless rallies to keep supporters on their toes until 2018, the MDC has not done anything new to show that things will change. There is no new hope that the party will effectively win elections and govern. Those of us left in the MDC represent a common sentiment in the party of remaining happily hopeful in a hopeless situation. It is hard to leave your political home because, as natural as human beings come, we are not comfortable with change, especially having known only one political home since childhood.

The only source of hope left for those diehard MDC members is the probability that the party will form a winning coalition with other political parties. Without such a coalition, the MDC will be, at most, the third biggest party behind Zanu PF and the PF. People First will sweep the MDC’s political base not because people don’t like the MDC anymore but simply because people want change and no matter how much they love the party, it is slowly dawning on them that the MDC is not getting younger and will not enjoy its youthful days anymore. This is the painful reality they face and have to accept.

This situation is purely natural. Even sports-persons, musicians and other actors that depend on popular support know very well that every person has a peak in their career from which if they don’t maximise will never rise again. New players will come on the scene and capitalise on your weakness and overtake you. That is the sad situation with the MDC.

Since 2013, the MDC leadership has not attempted to do anything that can create any sense of hope that, this time; there will be a new plan, a new strategy and victory. To the contrary, the party has not only resisted renewal but even went further to entrench the deadly dead status quo.

The MDC does not seem to be able to capitalise on anything at the moment, be it the economic decline, Zanu PF infighting or simple things like civil servants’ bonuses. In fact, the government is so relaxed and experimenting with lives since 2013 to the extent that, heartbreakingly, people would have been better off if the MDC did not exist because, then, they would learn to lead themselves into action.

The MDC is now the one that is holding the people’s struggle at ransom. It has to be said, the MDC support base has done all it can and given the party everything it can but the party is a bottomless pit, mainly because, in truth, the party also has, perhaps, its worst top leadership since its inception. How the MDC has become so, lame, clueless and largely painful to support and follow like the football club I support, one can only wonder.

Under these circumstances, only a miracle can save the MDC from being overtaken by the demands of its political support base. People First is propelled by a presumed belief that it can take on Zanu PF and wrestle political power; something which the MDC has proved beyond doubt that, alone, it is incapable of doing in its current state. Of course for a population that longs for change, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps this will cause the MDC to wake up from its slumber.

That is not to say PF will find it easy against Zanu PF. The truth is Zanu PF is very brilliant when it comes to power retention. Although in part contributed by the inept opposition, Zanu PF has defied everything that makes sense to retain political power in impossible situations. How Zanu PF manoeuvred and survived the past decade will be a source of many scary folktales that generations will never believe just like the day to day Zim economics of the mid-2000s.

Of course all hope is not yet completely lost, but if the MDC wants to genuinely remain relevant and compete with the emerging PF without simply depending on courting it into coalition, the party has to do a thorough self-introspection and renew itself. It must regain its lost vibrancy and find new strategies. Yes, that might demand leadership change.

Dr Tapiwa Shumba is a former spokesperson of the MDC in South Africa writing the painful truth about the party in his personal capacity. He accepts alternative views and is ever willing to engage.


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    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    A well-written and accurate article. Unfortunately, Morgan is too dumb to understand it.

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      Reflection is necessary for change ..MDC tried near to 2 decades to fight as opposition but the oomph has run out, neither are we saying people first is the best outfit to lead into the new zimbabwe, due to the fact it’s over loaded with old ideas.. a new way of thinking and politicising is required for a new zimbabwe .. I like what Zunde stand for …and the new way of thinking for the future. .

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    Tjingababili 6 years ago


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      Joe Cool 6 years ago

      So, instead of just criticizing, why not offer an alternative positive proposal?

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    Lovemore 6 years ago

    Mr Tapuwa you are lost for you to think MDC T have lost ground . The MDC is fighting a democratic war were individual rights are respected. The coming on board of people first is MDC baby. That is what we want but MDC T remains demanding reforms first. In a fair and free contest no one can beat Tsvangirai.

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    kalulu 6 years ago

    Whilst I agree with the writer that MDC had their chance and THEY indeed squandered it by surrendering all the power to Mugabe after the people had given them a mandate through the hard way and with many people being murdered in the process and Tsvangirayi exposing himself as a short-sighted leader, I personally do not think the PF is the answer.

    People First movement has shown its propensity for dictatorship by installing a leader before the party is even formed. Those people fronting Mujuru to be the leader will most likely be looking forward to being compensated for their efforts of crowning Mujuru to be the leader and will no doubt remind Mujuru what they did for her and being a scholar of the notorious ZANU PF it goes without saying how she is going to respond and ‘corruption’ will once again be on the roll.

    It is on record how the Mujurus got their massive wealth which obviously did not emanate from salary or hard work.

    Not long ago the People First proponents stated that in Masvingo that War Veterans will have a special, favoured and biased place in PF which shows that PF icon does not mean what it stands for but should instead be ‘WAR VETERANS FIRST’.

    I have nothing against War Veterans as I sincerely appreciate from the bottom of my hearet their selfless sacrifices during the struggle for independence but the majority of them and of course having been infiltrated by fake ‘war veterans’ like you know who have turned their backs on the values of the struggle and instead began to worship Mugabe, what a shame. I am aware of the genuine war veterans who to this day have not compromised the principled stand they took from the time they left their families to take up arms to this day and to them I say I will always salute you to my grave.

    There are some so called war veterans who have no direction or principles alwaysfollowing the direction of the wind. Yesterday they were genuine cadres, transformed to be ‘Mugabe’s task men’ sabotaging peoples freedom by infiltrating the opposition or working in Mugabe’s projects and publicly stating that they expected to be rewarded by Mugabe or ZANU PF for their inhuman tasks of sabotaging usurping people’s rights and yet they claim to have fought to liberate the generality of Zimbabweans. Today they followed the wind and they are front runners in PF.

    What do you honestly expect from such people or such a movement unless if people prefer anything that does not publicly state that it is Mugabe’s project.


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      zunzanyika 6 years ago

      I respect your opinion sir, you have very sensible arguments and you may be right. I am actually asking you to to join the people first project. The main reason for my asking you is the fact that you understand how politics works. People make parties and leaders, and they vote in patterns. So you should understand why people first will prevail over either grace or Emerson as I can not see the old man contesting the next election. You could help to create much needed awareness among our people using your cultured ideas which you use calculatively. People first will be the next government, what happens after is a story for another day, so join us.

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        kalulu 6 years ago

        No thank you, but I am wishing you success in your endeavours.

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    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    Some see it, some don’t: what’s important right now is not who you vote in, but WHO YOU VOTE OUT. Nothing else.

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    Oscar Lune 6 years ago

    Morgan Tsvangirai is not meant to be a leader, never was and never will be. This is why he was a failure in the GNU and sold out to events leading to its formation and when he sat in this Mbeki/Zuma concocted political circus. No need to feel sorry for Morgan the fool he agreed and sold to Mugabe who led him on a leash like a lost puppy.

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    Yayano 6 years ago

    This is another over the top analysis from possibly a former MDC member who has becomes disgruntled in the diaspora and thinks the party may cease to exist.
    I think it’s just wishful thinking by people who are not on the ground who don’t understand the thinking of the ordinary people.
    At the same time he overrates People First(PF). PF is comprised of mainly Zanu PF supporters who were sympathetic to Mujuru. The number of supporters is not even known.
    The only true thing in Zanu circles is that Mujuru has more supporters than the unelectable Mnangagwa. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.
    Mujuru herself whilst in Zanu never spoke of democracy, she let people get killed in Mashonaland Central without even saying a word because she wanted to get a seat.
    She almost denied Econet a license and thank God to Nkomo who stood up to her otherwise we would have been Telecel and OneTel only.
    Suddenly she has become a defender of democracy after being chucked out of Zanu.
    Where was Mutasa when people were being maimed and killed in the Headlands area? Didn’t he supply some of the vehicles that were used in those operations?
    Suddenly Mutasa is putting people first. Seriously?
    Mavhaire and Bhasikiti jumped over dead bodies on their way to Parliament and somehow now they want to put people first. Really?
    Zimbabweans can be anything else but certainly not fools. The MDC has to lie low at the moment, the elections are in 2018, there is no need to be overexcited and that shouldn’t be confused with extinction.
    The only advantage PF may have is that it may have people who are still in Zanu PF who will tell it about the rigging plans or even stop them. That way PF could be of help.
    2018 will be a totally different election and those people like Shumba talking about the demise of MDC should come to the people on the ground and listen to them as they speak in the combis, bank queues etc.

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    Netanyahu 6 years ago

    The eyes of a disgruntled activist sees that. The eyes of the masses see a saviour in Tsvangirayi. Perhaps I should just end here.

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    Nyoni 6 years ago

    The PF project is just that a prioject. Yes anyone has the right to form whatever they want but like Simba Makonis party it was a means of spltting the vote. Is this a planned tactic by the wily fox Mugabe who sees his power being threatened by the MDC? Mujuru had her day and I cant for one believe she has Zimbabweans at heart.Why should she she is busy swimming in the pools with her muddy grubby friends.

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    amina 6 years ago

    People first are a threat to individuals who were in MDC as a party aimed at fulfilling their greedy and quick accession to power, these are in the likes of Biti, Ncube and Shumba. Real MDC was formed by real Zimbabweans with the interest of the majority at heart in the like of Learnmore Jongwe, Ndirai, students of 1999 and 2000, who faced a bleak future in the face of ZANU PF’s poor governance. These will not opt out of MDC in the face of People First. People first is for people with ZANU PF affinity. These people are not patient to see a real movement in the making of MDC winning elections, if they had been patient, Ncube and Mtambara, in 2008, there would have been an outright winner first time not the way ZANU PF had to cook the figures and came up with their on results. In the same vein PF will dance in the same floor with ZANU PF because it will create a platform for nice rigging with ZANU PF claiming just above 50% and them MDC and People First sharing the spoils but in actual fact these will be false results. ZANU PF will never run the risk of a runoff no matter what happens in Zimbabwe’s election. If PF does not appear, then ZANU PF will know that denying MDC a chance will be risking too much since there will be more disgruntlement even among the war veterans who if People First is formed many would loose in the People First and while they are battling to see how they lost ZANU PF will be consolidating its power again just like what they did after rigging in 2008 run off by biting people when MDC polled out last minute. Elections went ahead and Mugabe inaugurated, they went to the GNU table as an elected president while Morgan was a losing finalist.

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    Msizeni silwelani 6 years ago

    My fellow countrymen, Joice Mujuru is but the other side of the same coin zanu pf. She has been in the party since her teen ages. She has seen all the good and the bad with zanu later on to be zanu pf. She is a zanu factory fault. A reject we are sold to give it some credence.

    Mujuru has been nominated by her office counterparts to lead a imagined political beast but not elected by a lay woman in Tendai Biti’s Chendambuya. Hence her misguided popularity that has time and again led us nowhere cannot be ascertained.

    Her personality is full of insufficienies: corrupt, she is on record for castigating the media for exposing corrupt activities by zanu pf linked parastatal board members. Let alone telling the Matebele that, ‘munoti zanu ayidyisi? Ndimwi musingati kudya’.

    Arrogant, dispises authority, how she tried to override a decision by an acting president when she was a mere minister.

    Timid, ‘vaMugabe ndibaba’ when she was underseige from the very same person till she was unceremoniously kicked out of zanu. Cannot challenge the status core, she vehemently and sheepishly disuaded Prof Moyo from standing as an independent candidate in the 2005 elections.

    Greedy, look at the wealth she and her late husband have acquired. All can not be traced to hard work. The distribution of her late husband’s estate has been dragged into courts, her name is prominently mentioned in the process.

    Mujuru is a pathological liar. She promised all who cared to listen that she would not rest until the nation is told what or who killed Solomon. Delailah? She has gotten busy with people first, a hubristic and disillusioned group of political malcontents who could not make it in a failed organisation.

    I refuse to accept that we have reached a political mindset that detects we should think about who do we vote out rather than who do we mandate with taking us to a better Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is alive

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    Are there any plausible elections ever held here. Food for thought. We just gasp in dark mirages.

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    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    What I see is that there is no consensus at all. Mujuru is seen as being as bad as Zanu PF – Correct, she is. Tsvangirai is seen as being a failure. Correct, he is.

    So, what’s the name of our upcoming saviour who is going to lead us out of Mugabe’s wilderness. Moses, after 40 years?

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    Ngoto Zimbwa 6 years ago

    @Joe Col
    Netanyahu has spelt it out.

    Lots of people don’t like Tsvangson.
    That doesnt make him a failure.
    Struggle is a long and winding road.

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    C Frizell 6 years ago

    This is very sad for me because I was involved in the formation of the MDC.

    The problem is/was that M.T is too “nice” (or too soft if you like) In 2008 he cared too much about the safety of the people to push the ZPF Mafia to the wire, eyeball to eyeball.

    We had already lost over 200 people murdered and M.T and his colleagues did not want more killed. I think that was a mistake when you consider ZPF killed about 30,000 people during the war and maybe another 20,000 during gukurahundi. It is a very well-oiled killing machine.

    My feeling is that the ZPF Mafia will cling on to power by force as they will not want to lose all they have stolen over the years.

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    It’s truly saddening when one realizes that we have come to a point in our history where the emphasis of our debate is focused on who we vote out rather than who we vote in to lead our country in to the future. Electricity will always attempt to follow the easiest path to ground, keeping this in mind one should not be surprised to find that people will do the same, especially so given a political deadlock. People will gravitate to the side that has the best perceived chance of unseating the incumbent. Is it too far fetched to say that my enemy’s enemy is my friend so long as we share the same momentary goal. A hyena can not miraculously change it’s checkered spots over night and as such PF is not exactly the optimal choice especially so given that the very same people heading it were part and parcel of the madness that has presided et independence to some degree or another, but it is ultimately a choice nonetheless and a very lucrative one at that. While I am understanding of the fact that an interim leader is the norm given it is a new party those at the helm have much and more to answer for. As for the Mdc, the party is a dud simply put, a dwindling hope given the almost two decades they have had to implement the change people have so desperately craved for and disastrously failed. Morgan is an idiot not withstanding the sacrifices he endured earlier on in the struggle for democracy, he portrays someone slightly more literate than zuma which is not saying much. His arrogance is unbelievable and just like bob he is clinging to power at any cost. It’s just pathetic. Now we have a situation whereby we have a recipe ripe for disaster, too many political parties all splitting the vote much to the pleasure of the lunatics at the chibuku box headquarters in downtown Harare. The only thing PF has going for it is the possibility of actual democratic process at subsequent conferences after it’s inauguration whereby perhaps people will be gunuinely given the opportunity to choose their leaders instead of having leaders imposes on them as seem to be the norm but this is a fools hope. One can only hope and pray for the best I suppose.

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    So, you rubbish all of them but Morgan particularly?

    And you think PF offers a choice, hyena spots and all?

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    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    After any political party has been in power for an extended period of time, ‘democracy’ceases to exist, because the incumbent party gradually infiltrates every organisation and creates a Mafia-like network.

    Botswana is a good example. The BDP has been in power since independence – 50 years, this year. Everyone in any position of real power is in the BDP. Any individual who shows a real political threat to the BDP is either bought (they have all the money) or targeted and broken.

    Zanu PF enticed the impoverished MDC politicians in 2009 into joining the gravy train, which they did. They didn’t buy Tsvangirai, because they saw that he wasn’t a threatbworth the price.

    Forget for now what Didymus Mutasa did, or Joice Mujuru did, whilst in Zanu PF, because right now there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Forget the economy, forget the potholes in the roads, forget the lack of doctors and medication in the hospitals.


    Or you really are going to suffer.