Democracy must not be a mere slogan: Biti - Zimbabwe Situation

Democracy must not be a mere slogan: Biti

via Democracy must not be a mere slogan: Biti February 21, 2014 by Owen Gagare

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti says the MDC-T should dissociate itself from dictatorship and intolerance by refocusing on core values and principles which include “tolerance, respect, dialogue and love”.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Biti said the MDC-T and other democratic movements should not merely focus on removing Zanu PF from power, but should work towards getting rid of the “Zanu PF system and culture, which includes violence, intolerance, corruption, predatoriness, rumour-mongering, gossip and character assassinations”.

Biti’s comments come in the wake of last Saturday’s assault of MDC-T deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, who has called for leadership renewal in the party — a move that has deeply split the party.

Biti was also a target of the attacks, but escaped after jumping into MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s car.

Although Biti refused to comment on the merits of Mangoma’s case or his assault, he said it was important for the party’s values to be respected.

“The values upon which this movement was founded; the value of democracy, the value of tolerance, the value of freedom of speech within the confines of our constitution — these values must be respected,” he said.

“As a matter of fact, I know no debate that has been suppressed, but we need to safeguard these values. We need to walk the talk.

Democracy should not be a slogan, it should be lived.”

Asked whether the incidence of violence and intimidation in the party were an indication that the party had failed, Biti said: “Collectively we have to do better.”

“After all, we have been victims of violence and intolerance from Zanu PF … So for us to then seek to inflict that on ourselves, I think it’s simply not good enough and it’s not acceptable,” he said.

Biti said democratic forces needed to guard against contradictions which are common in any prolonged struggle which can result in organisations assuming the character of institutions they are fighting.

He cited the violence, assassinations, arrests and rebellion which took place during the liberation struggle as examples of the contradictions.

“The other problem is because Zimbabwe has been under dictators since 1891, what has changed is the colour of the dictator’s skin … Zimbabwe has not known other value systems other than Zanu PF, Ian Smith and the repressive colonial state so it’s very easy for people to reproduce themselves asymmetrically to Zanu PF,” he said.

“It’s easy for people to behave, think and talk like Zanu PF. Put in simple terms Zanu PF has normalised the abnormal. So violence is normal, gossip is normal, rumours are normal, lying is normal. You see that happening in civil society and democratic forces.”

Biti said it was important to focus on the values and principles upon which “the movement was founded” while also paying attention to the central strategic objective, which is to achieve democratic change in Zimbabwe.

“The aim should not only be to remove Zanu PF but the culture of Zanu PF, to de-Zanunise the Zimbabwean state and institutions.”
Biti said if the MDC-T and other democratic forces failed to stick to their values they would be unsuccessful in fulfilling their objectives.

He cited Zanu PF as an example of a party which has managed to survive for a long time despite divisions and said this was because the party stuck to its values.

“For all its weaknesses, Zanu PF is still alive since 1963 under circumstances where it’s more divided and fractured than civil society in Zimbabwe because it has stuck to its core principles of sovereignty and power retention.

“It has been loyal to those values and we of this generation must be loyal to our values of justice, solidarity, humility and emphathic leadership and ofcourse attaining democratic change which is value based.

Biti said a struggle without content would produce an outcome which is worse than that which “we are seeking to remove”.



  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 4 years

    The value system must move away from this Zanification of the state ,which is corruption, greed, and kushaya hunhu. The politicians have pushed us into the dark ages . That’s why the call is for a new brand of politicians not tainted by the Zanufication process. This should be our period of enlightenment. Let’s spread the news that there is a better way ,there’s a better life without Zanu, where the value of life is principal. There is more to life than Chinese trinkets.
    You can have all the ngoda under your bed,but if there is no ambulance to take you to hospital, you will die on top of that ngoda. See what happened to Mujuru, no fire engine. See what’s happening in TOKWE, using donkey carts. Dark ages.
    This leadership of Mugabe, Tsvangirai is leading us know where fast.

    We must now create a tsunami wave of new politics. We need new leadership. Strive where are you ..This is our hour of need. Let’s spread the news people ,that we can be Ubuntu again.

    • comment-avatar
      Allen 4 years

      We can scream to the heavens but our sad lamentations fall on deaf ears. The leadership is preoccupied with looting and self enrichment. We need a radical paradigm shift. Maybe start sending people to the Gallows for some of these very serious crimes against society.

    • comment-avatar
      sigasiga 4 years

      Well said but I tend to disagree for your call on Masiyiwa. One’s success in the business entity is no guarantee for success in leading the country. Some people are just exceptional in building the economy the way Masiyiwa has done but lack the political impetus to run a country. Captains of industry are just good at that and let them play their role in creating jobs and building a robust economy while “real” politicians create a conducive environment for the likes of Masiyiwa to thrive not only for themselves but for the entire country.

  • comment-avatar
    Rocks tone 4 years

    In any situation of election in Zimbabwe , do u think ZANU pf is willing to be removed or surrender power through election?

  • comment-avatar

    Well said @Roving Ambassador-The party should be greater than any individual for it to run democratically.This is a good move from Biti.Any party which achieves its objectives by means of violence has lost its grassroots support.

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 4 years

    Interesting watching Biti trying to be a grown up

  • comment-avatar
    CHINDUNDUMA 4 years


  • comment-avatar
    Africanson 4 years

    “….soverengty and power retention…” are ZANU’s core values so says Biti. Are these core values not relevant to any African party? Does MDC not share the same values. In so far as i am concerned these are profound values, what needs to be changed is how to maintain those values.

  • comment-avatar
    sigasiga 4 years

    Don’t be a hypocrite Biti. If you were true to yourself and living these same values I don’t think we would have witnessed the level of rifts rocking MDC today. In any group of people there is bound to be differences in ideas and ideals but it is how we handle and manage them that makes a difference. It is my assumption that there are rules that govern your conduct as well as taking and managing party issues but you all have been disrespctful of that. All you show us is political immaturity that you demonstrated in student politics. Gone are the days Biti,and it doesn’t mean making the most noise gives one a monopoly of ideas and the supper-urge to lead.

    It’s heartbreaking to know that even Tsvangirai went to loose direction when he was surrounded by people of your calibre. Were you all guys? Were you making a leopard’s calculated moves to pounce on and rebel against your own? If you didn’t have a hand in all these problems rocking your party why would these violent “rogues” target you? (Not condoning violence of cause) You have all destroyed our hope where we had invested our energy in anticipation for a real change. Kurai all of you mutiitire zvinhu kwazvo, we have young and focused guys we can mentor into real and true revolutionaries for a true democratic change. People who have he resilience to manage the political dynamics to bring real change.
    ZANU PF has managed to uphold the unity of purpose as integral and key value and that’s why they have managed to withstand all forms rifts from within and without. And why not you?
    You need to put value in team work and see your successes through collective efforts and engagements and not perceive failure as caused by an individual in the party. There must be full ownership of success and failure as this is a product of collective efforts.
    And so Biti and your colleagues get REAL!!!!!!!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    Africanson 4 years

    Biti is just expressing his admiration of ZANU’s core values which MDC lacks. Being in opposition does not mean dissagreeong with everything that your opposition says. At least Biti is free to express himself. This is very rare from both members of MDC and ZANU. Politics of patronage has made our country poor.

  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 4 years

    Thanks Sigasiga,my call on Masiyiwa is motivated ,yes by the fact that he has managed to grow and run a massive cooperation. A modern institution. Give the same to Bob ,it would fall to pieces. Masiyiwa hasn’t he people appeal which is important in politics ,he is also morally respectable. This does not mean ,do it alone,there is a Lt of zimboa of all colour and creed willing to work for the nation. If you have names to throw into the Frey,let’s have them and we can debate

  • comment-avatar
    mukanya 4 years

    Masiyiwa can come in and try his lucky its his democratic right, he has funds and is a christian not really a bad candidate, my view is that he can only be confrontational towards Tsvangirai at great risk especially if he appears to be handled by Biti as rumours suggest. Those who have been in the party for money and can do everything for money including representing Gono are obviously salivating at the mere likelihood of being associated with him. However true and majority supporters of the party have sacrificed money, land, comfort, jobs, limb and life for really change and may not be easily swayed. A deal between Save and Masiyiwa can possibly work after Save moves around the country convincing supporters that he is not another imposter.

    • comment-avatar
      easily fooled 4 years

      Ndiko kuti Mukanya ka uku? It has to be a proper arrangement. I, however, do not think Masiyiwa would accept that. The business will be at risk, at this moment, he is more concerned about his business empire than politics. He will not dare.

      Two kids were found fighting over who would get bigger half of the loave of bread they would buy in the luck event of them picking a $1

  • comment-avatar
    easily fooled 4 years

    Dear Tendai,

    Thanks you for the message and the interview. I must tell you that you are culprit number 1 of preaching what you do not do. I intent to open you eyes like all elderlies would do. Take my words seriously.

    Never ever take people for granted. People gets offended to learn that since 1999 you have been taking them for a ride. The objective of MDC was brining in democracy. Do you want it in a silver platter? No, ofcourse no! Do you admire revolutionist like Mugabe, Mandela, Nyerere etc. The answer is Yes you do. They went to live in the bushies, fighting for over 15 (1963 to 1980) and some even more (1956 -1994) for Umadiba Mandela. Do you think they had legal firms to work on. Infact Madiba actually left a legal practice at its prime; when it was needed most. Ironically you leave the struggle for demicracy for personal stuff at its prime. And after spitting on MDC fellows and follwers like that you want tolerance?

    Either you are for them of you have been retained by the enemy to course confusion, and the masses message to you and Mangoma is stop it or walk out peacefully like Mr. Ncube of MDC-N.

    Loud and clear


  • comment-avatar
    tino 4 years

    Good that Biti is getting sober.You cant remove a person on dubious grounds, of which he Biti is part of.If we as MDC cadres had taken the top leadership on a hearing as we had planned, Biti was not spared.We are still going to do the hearing, asking them the way forward and make them sign declarations of not betraying the struggle.When Susan Tsvangirai passed away, those of us who knew her could tell that one part of Morgan had really gone, not funny preaching but the truth.Now we need to rally behind our leaders and restrategise for 2018.We are saying the tensions have spruced our way forward and those who need to continue are going to be approved by the congress.Biti as a lawyer has his democreatic right to associate with Gono but come congress, he is dreaming if he thinks he can sit meetings to defend ZANU PF members and then stand in front of us chanting the way forward.Dreaming!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Strive Masiiwa can only be accepted after congress approval.He also is living in a safe haven in South Africa, a bit of a disadvantage to him.To win the hearts of the people, breath with then,eat with them, suffer with them,feel for them.Iam not dismissing him but he has to be more home than SA to be approved.As part of Zimbabwe revival strategy ,we are not going to ignore Mthuli Ncube,Nkosana Moyo,Simba Makoni and the best Agricultural brain in Africa-Professor Mandivamba Rukuni who is heading FAO.We have a vision,a vision to be lived by those who believe in the true sense of democracy and accountability to the masses.Let us love the people and they will appreciate us.Together forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    jiji 4 years

    Excellent Tino.We are going to take them to task .We had forgiven them as we were and still convinced that the elections were rigged.Now some of them are dining with ZANU,they are showing the true colours.Come congress we are booting them out.You can not eat with ZANU and then come to address us.Who do you think you are? Bennet went to jail for assaulting Chinamasa.No symbathy from ZANU judiciary system.So why don’t you want Gono to go to jail?Unless you are saying you charged Gono 20 million as legal fees and that money is going inton the MDC coffers!! You are doing it for your own self enrichment and knowing well that Gono will taint your name.And you know you are not innocent in the Gono-Kereke saga.The people have spoken and Biti have to reconcile with the people,otherwise we will see you embarrassed come congress.

  • comment-avatar

    Biti is a sell out even during elections he sold morgan so that they can blame is also cming that he was sponsoring independant candidates .what type of a leader is he??these guys are after donor funds not the struggle.

  • comment-avatar
    Saddened 4 years

    The truth of the matter is that excellent leaders with the calibre of Mandela are scarce worldwide not just in Zimbabwe, so what to do. I believe the fault lies with us the people who idolise leaders instead of holding them to account at every turn. As Vince Musewe suggested we should get involved in our ratepayer groups, civil societies etc and move away from sitting on the fence on matters affecting our lives. Let’s insist that our MP’s & councillors report back to us regularly so that they are kept on their toes. This way they will have a lot less time on their hands to get involved in any nefarious activities. We have the power so let’s start using it

  • comment-avatar
    Davy Mufirakureva 4 years

    Biti and company used Morgan to be where they are. They could not make it by their own. Viva Morgan!!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    Davy Mufirakureva 4 years

    We do not like parasites

  • comment-avatar
    nesbert majoni 4 years

    Biti and Mangoma are sell outs

  • comment-avatar
    Ndebvu Mukomichi 4 years

    The Way to Damascus:
    So the effect of hwezviyo is wearing off bete muBiti.

    Your eyes are being opened to the beauty and strength of the values of ZPF!

    There is a lot of room at the inn- Come home to ZPF! Your love for the party is shared by many! Dr GG seems to be doing some good work at convincing you to leave!