By Saul Gwakuba-Ndlovu
NOVEMBER 22 2018 was ‘Budget Day’ for Zimbabwe, but MDC Alliance Members of Parliament were ejected from the august House because they became rowdy after the arrival of the country’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The Speaker, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, ordered their ejection and some of them were literally physically carried out of the House by ZRP officers.
It was obvious the MDC Alliance MPs were protesting against President Mnangagwa being the national President of Zimbabwe, a sentiment that was strongly stated by the MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa, shortly before and after the harmonised July 30 2018 elections.
The contention was taken to Zimbabwe’s highest court and a full bench unanimously endorsed President Mnangagwa as the duly elected President of Zimbabwe.
Following that historic court verdict, if not in spite of that verdict, there has been some talk about either the inclusion of the MDC Alliance into the national Government, or of its leader, Nelson Chamisa, into some type of Government of National Unity (GNU).
For this part, Chamisa maintains he and his party, the MDC Alliance, actually won the elections but were cheated out of power by ZANU PF.
No tangible evidence has been given to support that claim, but it is still being made, and was, in fact, behind the November 22 2018 parliamentary disturbance.
Why did Chamisa, a qualified lawyer, take the issue to the country’s highest court if he and his organisation were not prepared to accept the court’s verdict.
In a country that upholds the rule of law, the judiciary commands a great deal of respect and its verdict, particularly by the highest court, must be duly respected and honoured.
It does not make sense whatsoever for a complainant to take a matter to court if the same is not prepared to accept and abide by that court’s decision.
This position was also stated by the Kgalema Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry recently when Chamisa appeared before it.
Zimbabweans must be serious about positions taken by their organisations and leaders on such important issues as court decisions. It may assist some MDC Alliance MPs and ordinary supporters to give an analysis of the country’s immediate pre-election environment which led to the MDC Alliance losing in many regions.
We are not here attempting a psephological exercise (statical analysis or study of the July elections) but shall only deal with factors that negatively affected the MDC Alliance electorally.
The very first factor was the unilateral appointment by the then MDC-T president, the late Morgan Tsvangirai, of an additional two vice-presidents, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri.
That development sent a very negative message about the MDC-T and its leader.
The tension and arguments that occurred between Chamisa and Mudzuri, on one hand, and between the constitutionally elected MDC-T vice-president, Dr Thokozani Khupe, on the other, dented the organisation’s image in a big way.
However, the Chamisa versus Mudzuri tension did not electorally affect the MDC Alliance as some understanding and agreement between the two had been reached.
However, the undoubtedly clumsy way some MDC-T youths treated vice-president Dr Khupe at Tsvangirai’s funeral certainly alienated some of its members from Chamisa.
We are dealing with vice-president Dr Khupe, first, in ethnic terms and, second, in gender terms. She is from Matabeleland and is, of course, a woman.
Both Chamisa and Mudzuri are originally from Masvingo and are male, and so was Tsvangirai. If ever the MDC-T harmed its very own image, the way it treated Dr Khupe was one of the worst self-inflicted blows an organisation could make.
Its gender-sensitive and ethnic-conscious members could not vote for it in the July elections.
A second very important factor that had a rather adverse membership effect on the MDC Alliance was the November 2017 security forces-accelerated former President Robert Mugabe-retirement from national politics.
The MDC-T had been repeatedly calling for the removal of the then President Mugabe from power.
When that occurred last November, some MDC-T members and sympathisers felt for President Mugabe’s successor — President Mnangangwa deserved to be given a chance to lead Zimbabwe.
That simply meant former President Mugabe’s resignation had negatively affected the MDC-T’s support and, ipso facto, electoral strength.
A third factor that should be taken into account when discussing the MDC Alliance’s July 2018 electoral performance is the death of Tsvangirai, its founder-president, and the organisation’s new face under Nelson Chamisa, whose socio-economic development dreams sounded weird.
Chamisa was criss crossing the country promising his predominantly youthful audiences bullet trains and brand new cities, one of which would be constructed on the granite rocks of the Matobo Hills in Matabeleland South Province.
At about 40 years of age, Chamisa sounded rather unrealistic.
His ideas were out this world, especially the Third World of which Zimbabwe is an integral part.
So, mature voters did not take his messages seriously, not as seriously as they treated those of his late predecessor, Tsvangirai. In any case, the Bantu regard old age as being synonymous with wisdom, and young age with reckless experimentation with new ideas.
The vast majority of Zimbabweans are of Bantu stock.
Their cultural tendency to trust elderly people more than younger ones is mostly pronounced on the land ownership issue.
They do not think the MDC Alliance takes the land ownership issue as seriously as does ZANU PF, one of whose objectives for waging an armed liberation struggle was to retake the land from the white colonial settlers. It is because of this fact that ZANU PF always focuses its election campaign strategy on the rural, much more than on urban, areas.
Urban areas are home to the working class (proletariat), and rural areas to mainly the peasantry.
Land is a permanent feature of the lives of the peasants.
Peasants are interested more in the production and rearing of livestock, in the development and distribution of water, in the production of food from land, in the construction and maintenance of rural roads, health and educational facilities and also in sources of energy such as woodlots but not in bullet trains, airports and the construction of mega cities.
An understanding and appreciation of these dynamics is, among other things, what enabled ZANU PF to win the last harmonised elections.
Their strategists efficiently and effectively managed their communication system, created selected information and targeted its relevant audiences.
Elections are won by candidates who present practicable socio-economic, cultural and political ideas and plans to relevant audiences, particularly opinion leaders.
It is really of no use to campaign on a string of criticisms without any ideas of one’s own. If one has lost an election, the most reasonable thing to do there-after is to improve one’s approach to the constituency, especially with better ideas and plans than those of one’s rivals, but certainly not to be rowdy or destructive.
The rowdy behaviour of the MDC Alliance MPs on November 22, in Parliament, was the exact opposite of honourable, an epithet that should be earned instead of being bestowed as a matter of course.
Saul Gwakuba-Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo-based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email, firstname.lastname@example.org