Party leadership is not party ownership - Tanonoka Joseph Whande

Party leadership is not party ownership – Tanonoka Joseph Whande

via Party leadership is not party ownership by Tanonoka Joseph Whande | SW Radio Africa March 10, 2014

Cornered and confronted by his assassin, Ernesto “Che” Guevara challenged his killer to go ahead and shoot him, telling the man to go ahead and shoot because he was only killing a man not an idea.

Ideas. Ideas. Ideas!

Zimbabwe’s political landscape is littered with phonies…leaders with no ideas.

Our politicians have proved to be mediocre far beyond the minimums expected of people who lead people.

Our politics is submerged in poverty of direction; is in the depths of averageness and has total absence of originality. All of our leadership, regardless of party affiliation, is more concerned with filling their cheeks and pockets in total disregard of their roles as elected civil servants.

Poverty of civic responsibility and a mediocre sense of purpose characterize our politicians. They are, in every sense, like lactating mothers who suckle their own breasts at the expense of their expectant infants.

I scan the horizons of Africa and I see a common yarn across the continent, a disgusting thread of continental intolerance to such an extent that people form political parties not driven by civic responsibility but by a desire of ownership.

Indeed, to this day, we continue to mistake party leadership with party ownership.

What is ZANU-PF without Robert Mugabe?

What is PF-ZAPU without Joshua Nkomo?

My compatriots, please, tell me if it is disgusting or not to talk about MDC-T or MDC-N?

Ndabaningi Sithole died with his ZANU Ndonga and so did Joshua Nkomo with his ZAPU. All the party leaders who came after them are viewed as usurpers, charlatans who try to suckle from the breast of an old cow instead of finding their own pasture and source of milk.

We are corralled in a pool of leadership poverty and in a barren circle of governance. We are submerged in such poverty of guidance that our leaders become leaders by simply forcing people to just follow…offering no ideas or ideology to die for.

Our leaders force us to follow them on non-existent ideologies; they do not lead but force us to follow them on a path with no destination while we cannibalize ourselves along the way to a destination we will never reach because we aim to reach no destination; we just want to follow someone.

We just follow even though our so-called leaders have their eyes on their buttocks rather than on their foreheads.

Which of our leaders, past and present, ever had an idea that outlived them, like Che aptly put it to his killer?

To this very day, there has not appeared any political party as effective as the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), in terms of voluntary grassroots support.

The key word is voluntary.

ZAPU, which was born out of several dead political organisations, became a unified symbol of resistance and agitator for change. The unity of purpose, espoused in the formation of ZAPU made a big impact on Southern Rhodesia’s political landscape.

The reason ZAPU was so effective is that it was the only major party challenging the status quo and if there were any tribal overtones, they were not a major force in the life of a political party that was challenging colonialists with thousands of voluntary supporters who sacrificed everything because of a sense of belief and conviction but not for personal gain.

When there came a split and formation of another party called the Zimbabwe African National Union, the personalizing of party leadership begun in earnest.

I am saddened by the situation in the MDC today. It is not an overestimation to say that the MDC wasted people’s time because what is happening in that party is exactly what it was formed to stop.

There is no doubt that the MDC is dead, what with talk of a split and all. A split is like a compromise, no one gets what they wanted but, maybe, half of what they wanted and that is not good enough.

American presidents step aside and respect their successors. Now even Popes do the same. But not African presidents or leaders.

I find it astounding that Morgan Tsvangirai prefers to bulldoze his way into permanent party leadership the way he is doing. Is he not thankful that the people respected him enough to give him three chances to take the party to higher lofts and he failed at each one of them?

Does Mr Tsvangirai prefer to see his party fade and die because of his insistence to stay at the helm?

Whether or not there are people in his party agitating for his removal is immaterial. Why does he, on his own accord, not make it easier for the party and the people by simply stepping aside instead of causing such disunity in his party?

Whether we like it or not, Mr Tsvangirai will never ever be any more than what he has achieved. He did his part and he should thank the electorate and stand down because there is nothing more for him to prove.

It is so sad to ask people to tolerate this rubbish and to make them choose whether or not to stand by him. Now Mr Tsvangirai is making all other people seem ungrateful for his sacrifices.

The violence within the party is a shame. The beating up of party leaders at party headquarters in Tsvangirai’s presence is no less a shame than sleeping with one’s own mother.

The bombings of party elders’ homes are human excretion thrown throw the kitchen window.

To have party heavyweights squaring up in court representing different factions of the same party is a declaration of murder of a party and it is shameful that Mr Tsvangirai allows such to happen under his watch.

It is in Mr Tsvangirai’s best interest to voluntarily step aside because all the acrimony is centered on his failure as leader, something confirmed by his three successive failures to lead the party to higher ground.

The heart of the matter is that the party is more important than a leader, especially a leader who was given several opportunities to bring change but failed. Mr Tsvangirai should not find himself presiding over the demise of a party that he worked so hard to form and lead…a party that has stood by him in several poll failures. Surely, he can’t complain after being afforded so many chances.

Leadership of a party has everything to do with realizing results, of catapulting a party to ruling status. Leadership is winning.

It is disheartening to see Mr Tsvangirai clinging on to party leadership despite his failures. Party leadership is not party ownership like we have seen in ZANU-PF and in other African countries. Party leadership demands results and that is one thing Mr Tsvangirai has failed to deliver despite a strong support base.

The rumoured party split is very bad not only for the party but for Mr Tsvangirai himself. The MDC cannot afford it and Mr Tsvangirai should never allow himself to be the reason of a party split.

Now, the party is expending so much time and energy to prop up a leader instead of delivering mandates to the people.

The MDC has many elected officials who have to perform on behalf of those who elected them and they should not be sidetracked by issues of taking sides within their party.

The MDC should be making the most of what they have and waste no time in factional fights.

The people do not need that.

It is my hope that no political party will be formed out of the MDC because both will be weaker. Mr Tsvangirai, like Robert Mugabe in ZANU-PF, is a symptom of our failure to deal with leadership issues and our regrettable practice of letting a person own a party instead of just leading it.

Party leadership is not party ownership. Let’s put Zimbabwe first, please.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday, March 10th, 2014.


  • comment-avatar
    thembani 4 years


  • comment-avatar
    ALLEN 4 years

    I have never said this to anyone, but this was a brilliant article. You captured perfectly why Africa is such a dismal failure. We lack leaders and as leaderless people we are destined to oblivion.

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    immaculately pened without fear or favour

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    Roving Ambassador 4 years

    Get rid of the lot. They have proven again and again, they are in it for themselves. The MDCS,both of them and ZANUPF are one and the same. Let’s make a call for Strive and Nkosana now before its too late. We need new politics new way of thinking, where the people and the country come first.
    Some one pointed out that running a business is not the same as running a country ,surely these guys with there proven track record can do better than Mugabe.
    We need leadership now. Not this bunch of hoodlums, treasonous thieves. One group is selling us to the Chinese, another taking us to a dead end.
    Wake up people.
    Thank you Whande for telling it as it is.
    Those with eyes shall see and those with ears shall hear.

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    tavaziva 4 years

    good article but I have my reservations. why must only tsvangirai go if he failed three times to win an election everyone who was on his team including those calling him to go must lead the way because they have also failed. as far as l am concerned tsvangirai wasn’t contesting the elections as an independent candidate so everyone on his team has failed including yours truly mangoma and biti.

    Ps don’t change the face of the revolution before it’s over go ask gwisai people vote for mdc cause of tsvangirai not cause of your money or education we are in a revolution so mr tanonoka kana vanonokerwa let them go they are opportunists.

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      Kubota Binga 4 years

      With guys like Tavaziva, we are doomed! Tsvangirayi gotta go coz he is the leader period. Ever seen whole Team saked coz of losses? The coach goes!!! please allow yourself some free time to accept the merits of Whande’s article.

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    Ruramai 4 years

    Joseph, you nailed it. Indeed the crisis of Africa is that of leadership.

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    thembani 4 years

    Waiting for a new paty that will be more democratic and not named after any idiot..

  • comment-avatar
    danisa tshawe 4 years

    Give this man a Bells!

    My brother you sting like a bee and fly like a butterfly.

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    ALL EYES ON ME!! 4 years

    Mr Tanonoka Whande, please lets get our facts straight. There is no party in Zimbabwe known as MDC-N. It simply doesnt exist. We the supporters only know of the MDC.

    Check with the ZEC and the 2013 ballot papers – there was no such party registered for the elections.

    The MDC-N only exists in the imagination of journalists and that of all other media channels in Zimbabwe!!!

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    munzwa 4 years

    And another Bells! Hopefully the MDC can see sense and stay united to complete its task, this would be an opportunity for new players to enter the arena but the MDC must not presume that the longer you have been a member the greater your right to claim the top positions, Actions speak louder than words…get on with the job and let the people decide who they want by the effectiveness of there actions.

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      ALL EYES ON ME!! 4 years

      Which MDC? Are you referring to the MDC-T and confusing the two? In that case, it is not even the MDC-T that is the problem; it is Morgan Tsvangirayi who is the problem.

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    Charles Chamunorwa 4 years

    Can we blame the failure of the MDC T on one person despite Nikuv. We are all aware that the MDC wone the 2008 election resulting in the delay in announcing the results. The July 2013 election was rigged massively and today we are now blaming Tsvangirai. If there is failure in an organisation it should touch on all the leadership. We cannot exonerate other members of the leadership because we will then say where were they when the failed plan was being put in place or it was a set-up so that the plan fails and then blame a particular individual.

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    Across the continent is the same design. The parties are run by the same people until they die. In fact, the party name was not being held because the members do not participate in the policy for privileges in government. When the head of the party dies, the party is in decline. There is no party in Africa.

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    NBS 4 years

    I like this article: a lot! Thank you, Tanonoka. Disappointment with the MDC is palpable. That is not to say that ZPF have come up smelling like roses. They most certainly have NOT! And their stench permeates ever asset and facet of this nation. I personally went to an MDC meeting when the party was in its infancy to see and hear their vision. I remember the leaders saying that checks and balances would be put into place to ensure that what had happened in ZPF would never happen again in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans, this is what happens when we place our trust and faith in man-any man- and not God. This is what happens when we put any man on a pedestal. That man actually begins to think he is divine and above all others and he begins to abuse power. There is a very powerful evil spirit behind power.This is what happens when we fail to pray for our leaders. MT and all MDC leadership should go on a fast and cry out and seek God and repent and humble themselves and ask the lord Himself to choose His leaders. Truly, the 2013 elections should be a huge wake up call. Not because ZPF won (those elections will never hold up before a just and all knowing God) but because you squandered an opportunity. You were too confident and too proud; every man seeking after his/her own selfish ambitions instead of seeking from the Lord what His will would be for the nation. Disappointment! Oh yes! That we are! May the Lord Himself raise up a leader for this nation. Maybe Strive is not such a bad idea. He is self made with the help of God and so maybe he will not need to plunder the nation and spend millions on frivolous things when the nation starves and suffers. Lets pray! Lets repent! No repentance! No restoration!

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    NBS 4 years

    I like this article a lot. Thank you Tanonoka. What a terrible disappointment. It is a huge lesson in how not to trust any man but God only. May the Lord Himself raise up a leader. A man after His own heart.

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    Mandy 4 years

    I have lots of respect for Tanonoka Whande but he like many others misses the point and plays into the hands of the master tactician. Billy Clinton during his campaign put the issue simple when he said “Its Mugabe stupid!” I hasten to add that, unlike the American Society where citizens could freely exercise choice to heed Clinton’s call, it will not be easy against an authoritarian regime as given in Zimbabwe. The worst thing is for us to forget that we are victims in all ways of the authoritarian regime, period! Today we revere Joshua Nkomo for standing up to both the Smith and Mugabe regimes. Remember that it took SA at least 27 solid years to dismantle the apartheid system. During that period sentiments similar in character to what we are being presented today against Mandela and the ANC had become common cause. Lets not run away from the issue that is at hand. When an authoritarian system turns the focus away from itself then it has achieved its goal. Today we revere Joshua Nkomo because for over forty years he stood up to similar regimes and did not relent.
    A change of MDC leadership was done in 2005 but where did that take us. Today we hear Welshman has retired to his rural home, totally abandoning us and leaving no impact whatsoever on the regime. Let us be careful not to play into the hands of the regime.
    Lastly, those who were there during the war of liberation will tell you that a ‘ndipe ndiridze’ attitude among the leadership command always ended in unnecessary loss of lives of able combatants.

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      ALL EYES ON ME!! 4 years

      No you are wrong, it did not take 27 years to dismantle apartheid – it far much long than that. 27 years is simply the length of stay by Mandela in prison, not the length of the struggle against apartheid.

      Remember the ANC is now over a 100 years, the oldest liberation movement in Africa, if not the whole world and there had been several leaders of the ANC long before Nelson Mandela, since 1912 when it was formed. Mandela only came to the fore as a youth leader in the ANC in the early 1940s.

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    NBS 4 years

    I think it is an excellent article.

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    hypocrite 4 years

    Very good article Tano. Ya, a change of name from the current personalized one should have been on the agenda, amongst other issues including a forensic analysis of what happened in 2013, for the MDC so that it can have enough time to re-brand and restrategize. The current in-fighting of “who is against me or for me” will not take Zimbabwe anywhere in dislodging zanupf and having a government which is really for change. The experience in the GNU was not very encouraging for the MDC. It showed that they were just interested in replacing zanupf and not having a really different outlook on what needs to happen in Zimbabwe. The MDC has the same characteristics as zanupf, i.e, women’s league/assembly, youth league, President Tsvangirai instead of Mr. Tsvangirai, etc. We are indeed in for a hard time as change is not coming soon!!!

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    NBS 4 years

    I like this article.

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    Jacktheswede 4 years

    Great piece Mr Whande. Nowhere in modern politics do you see a leader of a party insist on staying at the helm after failing to unseat another party 5 times. Hate them we may but the Americans and most of the strong democracies dont believe in second chances or “corrections” failure is one too many. This is not a dynasty where a baton is only handed over to one in the lineage..its a movement started by the ordinary worker to whom it should be entrusted. Move Tsvangs…get out of way.

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    NBS 4 years

    Excellent article. You hit the nail right on the head.

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    Pablo 4 years

    Amana ka..I wasn’t expecting this from the main opposition party, no. All of u guys Mangoma, Tsvangirai or whoever see sense and check where ur actions will lead the party and the pple.

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    Rocks tone 4 years

    That’s a good article , from mr Whande, we have and had eloquent editors ,ie Joseph Whande,Tawana Majoni,Masola Wadabudabu, the incumbent & the late professor Jonh Makumbe .The articles are vivid , well analysed and orientates a clear cut dipctions to the readers , but my problem is are these analysts not vibrant enough to conduct a meaningful and radical effort in accelerating waves of change in Zimbabwe , because in Zimbabwe the idea of going to election is null & void with the kind of terrain we have , yes it is fine to have well written articles , that motivates us ,I’m kindly appealing to all those editors and analysts to contribute physically in our rampaged country which was once the bread basket of Africa , thank u

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    Nzara Yotonga MuZimbabwe 4 years

    Tanonoka Joseph Whande, where have you been all along. You have brains to analyse and advise. This top of the shelf staff. May you send Tsvangirayi a personalised copy. Please do not close the chapter. I wish I had the verbs and adjectives like yours. I was going to deliver this message personally. Tsvangirayi has mutilated MDC and our hopes have disappeared into thin air like ether

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    Isu-zvedu 4 years

    All praises for Tanonoka. Really? I for one beg to differ. When someone shouted, “all leaders stand up!” I saw only a few brave faces-Morgan Tsvangirai included, and nowhere was the likes of Whande and his pretenders. The evil in Zimbabwe still cry loud and clear for real men, amadhodha sibili to rise up. Guess what, only Morgan Tsvangirai with his ignorance, his poor vision, his whatever you call, is still standing up to evil. Its so wrong to spend all acres of paper writing against one man as if he is the creation of Zanu PF and Mugabe. What have real men done? What are they waiting for? Why cant they rise up and be counted? Are people so blind they can only see through Whande’s eyes that Morgan is bad news? Whande, last week in Mabvuku there was a mini rally. You were supposed to go there and tell the red shirted supporters that it was time to choose you-give your reasons, they would have followed you. Long ago there used to be individuals on Market Square on hunger strike because they opposed the establishment. This business of pretending to know it all through the keyboard is only wasteful and useless compared to those on the ground doing whatever. They say in Shona, “aswinya arwa” and for that reason, I shall forever hold Morgan in high esteem for his brave stand against evil. Granted, he is human and he does make so many mistakes. But what do we have as an alternative? Armchair critics like Whande hiding somewhere outside of Zimbabwe and claiming to know so much? Please.

    Let MDC continue to fight evil in its own way. If they are failing and so be it. Meanwhile critics like Whande are worse than the evil we are fighting. These are the armchair critics whose sole responsibility is to sow seeds of confusion, biting the opposition from its side while claiming they are exiled by Mugabe. Go home and stand up for your ideas and vision. Leave MT and his followers to do what they can under the circumstances. Today we are told MT failed 3 times. Really? Ko iwe wakagona zvingani?

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    Kubota Binga 4 years

    ALL EYES ON ME!! You amaze me, so you dont even know there is MDC T? Where are you ? On Mars……continue in denial. Its people like you that fail to accept their shortcomings, that will hold onto some rotting peice of meat hoping it will get fresher?

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      ALL EYES ON ME!! 4 years

      You problem is that you dont understand what you read. You read what I wrote, but you did not understand what I wrote. Stay like that, with you poor comprehension of the English language – its disgusting!

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    @isu zvedu and Mandy :guys u nailed it,all those who are against Morgan wy cant u just form yr party , cme home and remove Zanu since u know more than morgan,You want Morgan to hand over the party to Zanu utikwanire Hwande neshamwari dzako,makangwarira paduri sehuku zvekfadzana muchinyora zvamusingazivi uyai paground musangane naMugbe naMorgan,maida kuti morgan akuvhoterei makarara makadii kunovhota? Maida kuti auye kuzokutinhai kwamuri ikoko? Hamuna kukwana uyai tisangane isu tiripaground tirikutorova ndima Operation Morgan Dzi Muhofisi. Taurai zvinoitika kwete fiction.mungabvisa Tsvangirai ngekunyomba and Talking about Western Democracy did u remove the big Dictactor? We will sort them here on the ground people here want Morgan nt these Cio operatives u want to hijack our revolution Havalume tiripo paground muchanyora zvenyu imi vakomana vemadark glasses bt the truth is you know Morgan Ndizvo to Zim people

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    E.M. 4 years

    Interesting to read. But if Tsvangirai has failed, so has team including Biti. They should all go with him, they were the advisers.