PROBLEMS that are rocking the MDC Alliance have not come as a surprise.
They were there from the onset and their manifestation is only serving as confirmation theirs was an unholy alliance.
That the Alliance was no more than a convergence of politicians seeking donor funding, revival of their faltering careers and a way for them to gain political relevance was long written on the wall.
The Alliance is on the verge of an acrimonious divorce, an estrangement that has been authored by greed and lack of ideological orientation.
It was touted as the best thing to have ever happened to Zimbabwean politics but as the MDC Alliance teeters on the brink of an embarrassing electoral defeat, there are many issues to pick from the disaster that the coalition has been.
First has been the unilateral violation of the terms of the coalition agreement by MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa during the Nomination Court on Thursday last week.
The terms of the agreement were that from 210 parliamentary seats, the MDC-T would contest in 114 constituencies, while six other parties would be running in the remaining 96 seats.
However, information gathered by The Patriot this week shows that the MDC-T has breached the 150 seats mark.
The MDC-T unilaterally grabbed seats which were initially reserved for Alliance partners and saw double submission of papers in some constituencies and wards and outright failure to file papers in others.
Chamisa also stands accused of refusing to sign nomination papers for some Alliance candidates in what insiders revealed this week was a move intended to appease angry MDC-T members who have been opposed to the Alliance from the beginning.
Dr Thokozani Khupe, who openly opposed the Alliance, has since left the MDC-T and is contesting against her former party after she successfully filed to field candidates in 112 constituencies.
So dire is the situation in the MDC Alliance that other partners are reported to be mulling pulling out.
The MDC Alliance failed to field candidates for four council seats in Matabaleland South and in Insiza North due to the confusion ensuing in the Alliance.
In total, the Alliance has failed to field candidates in more than 90 council elections.
In Harare South, expelled former ZANU PF legislator Shadreck Mashayamombe filed his nomination papers on an MDC Alliance ticket, while Tichaona Saurombe from Transform Zimbabwe was also duly nominated as a member of the Alliance in that area.
The situation is the same in other areas such as Mazowe North and Bikita East where Transform Zimbabwe fielded candidates alongside representatives from Chamisa’s camp.
Mabvuku-Tafara constituency has not been spared from the fiasco.
James Maridadi, who lost in the party’s primary elections,filed papers together with a James Chidhakwa on an MDC Alliance ticket.
It is the same in Masvingo Province where ugly ruptures have erupted in the MDC Alliance.
It has fielded two candidates each in six constituencies, namely Zaka West, Gutu North, Gutu West and Gutu Central, Bikita East and Masvingo South.
In Gutu West, Stanley Manguma and Knowledge Mupini both filed papers to represent the MDC Alliance.
In Gutu North, Hamandishe Maramwidze and Juniel Manyere will both represent the MDC Alliance.
As a result of this untenable situation, serious divisions and mistrust have rocked the Alliance.
Add to that the violence that has visited upon officials like Khupe.
When the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, on August 5 2017, signed with six other political parties what they said was a ‘grand coalition’ to topple ZANU PF from power, the critical aspects of history and ideology were clearly lacking.
Disgruntled MDC-T officials snubbed the event which took place at the Zimbabwe Grounds.
The so-called coalition alliance brought together the MDC-T, Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC formation, Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party, Agrippa Mutambara’s Zimbabwe People First, Jacob Ngarivhume (Transform Zimbabwe), ZANU Ndonga and Multi-Racial Democrats.
All these parties congregated under the name MDC Alliance and were supposed to ‘unite’ other opposition parties and launch an offensive against ZANU PF.
However, they have failed dismally on both fronts.
Joice Mujuru formed the People’s Rainbow Coalition, while Elton Mangoma created a creature called Coalition of Democrats (CODE).
These two stoutly refused to join the Alliance.
On the election front, it has been a nightmare for the MDC Alliance as prospects of a split gather momentum by the day.
Whichever way one looks at it, the MDC Alliance was from the onset a coming together of people driven by egos more than ideology.
Besides the MDC-T, none of the six other parties add any value to the Alliance.
Biti, who left the MDC-T in April 2014, has had a sobering reality after recently addressing less than 500 supporters in Harare East where he is vying for that constituency’s House of Assembly seat on Friday last week.
Barely 48 hours later, Terrence Mukupe, ZANU PF’s candidate for the same constituency, addressed more than 5 000.
Other Alliance ‘partners’ have simply been out of the picture, without adding value or numbers to the alliance.
They are yet to conduct their own rallies.
Then there is ZAPU’s Dumiso Dabengwa who ‘endorsed’ Chamisa’s bid for presidency over the weekend.
Statistics from the July 31 2013 harmonised elections make bleak reading for Dabengwa.
In the presidential polls, he garnered a measly 25 000 voters and this is what he is bringing to the Alliance through his endorsement of Chamisa.
Regrouping of defectors
The MDC has been characterised by demoralising splits since its ill-fated formation on September 11 1999.
On October 12 2005, Welshman Ncube and several other officials including Trudy Stevenson left the MDC in a huff after disagreeing with Tsvangirai over the Senate elections.
They were subjected to serious violence by angry Tsvangirai youths with Stevenson being hospitalised.
On April 26 2014, Biti and Mangoma fired Tsvangirai at Mandel Training Centre claiming the former MDC leader was not fit for office.
This was after Tsvangirai had been thumped in the July 31 2013 elections.
This marked the second split in the MDC. And as was the case with Ncube and Stevenson, Biti and Mangoma were walloped by MDC-T youths.
So what does the Alliance mean for Biti and Ncube?
It has offered an opportunity for the likes of Ncube and Biti to rejoin the party.
But the two have an agenda.
Time and again, The Patriot has said the two have a plan to wrestle power from young Chamisa after the July 30 2018 elections – a plan to that effect is in motion as we write.
They want to regain control of the party they helped form.
Alliance’s false start
The Alliance was founded on shaky grounds.
It was mired in mistrust and outright dishonesty.
Hardly had the ink dried when Dr Khupe was attacked by rowdy Tsvangirai youths at the party offices in Bulawayo on August 6 2017.
Tsvangirai responded by ‘suspending’ MDC-T deputy treasurer Charlton Hwende and deputy spokesperson Tabitha Khumalo as well as three youth assembly members who were linked to the violence.
But all that was a façade.
Two days later, some of the Alliance partners were fuming.
According to a letter dated August 8 2017, ZANU Ndonga president Denford Masiyarira claimed Aerial Sakuinje, who signed the alliance agreement, had no mandate to do so.
“Mr Sakuinje is not a member of the leadership of the party and was never given a mandate by myself as president of ZANU Ndonga to sign or act on my behalf in any capacity in relation to all matters to do with the party,” he wrote in the letter.
As a result, the agreement signed by him on Saturday August 5 2017, on behalf of ZANU Ndonga is null and void and as such illegal.
I write to inform you that the Zimbabwe National Union (ZANU Ndonga) disassociates itself from the signing of the agreement relating to the MDC Alliance purportedly on behalf of ZANU Ndonga.”
University of Witwatersrand researcher Blessing Vava then warned that the Alliance would not survive.
“It (the alliance) won’t survive, and we can’t run away from the ideological perspective and shared vision,” he said.
“It was shown from the signing ceremony; there was no hope and there was a lot of hypocrisy from the leaders.
I would particularly want to refer to Ncube who apologised to the people, but we all know he left the MDC because of lack of internal democratic mechanism and dictatorship by Tsvangirai.”
Why coalitions don’t work
A June 13 2017 article by African Arguments raises fundamental issues on why and how it is difficult to bring together people of different ideological and political backgrounds.
Below is what the article says on coalitions.
“According to political scientist Nicolas Van de Walle, opposition coalitions only work when they appear capable of winning and thus prompt members of the ruling party to defect.
These defectors not only bolster the ranks of the opposition, but can bring supporters with them and sway undecided voters.
However, this strategy is not straightforward. To begin with, it can be difficult to encourage members of the ruling party to cross the aisle.
And when they do, it can be tough to persuade opposition supporters to vote for someone who was, until recently, part of the Government.
The more deeply polarised the political landscape, the harder this is.
When it comes to Zimbabwe, the environment looks similarly polarised, especially between the main opposition MDC-T and the ruling ZANU PF.
The MDC-T claims to be the democratic saviour to the ZANU PF’s illegitimate authoritarianism; ZANU PF presents itself as the liberator hero to the MDC-T’s foreign subservience.
But unlike the FDC in Uganda, the MDC-T seems to be – at least in principle – less averse to allying with the long-standing Government insider, Joice Mujuru.
Nevertheless, the fundamental irreconcilability between the images of the MDC-T and ZANU PF brings a certain riskiness to this decision.
What does it say about the vociferous opposition party that it now says it is prepared to stand alongside a former ZANU PF stalwart and vice-president?
How will its supporters react?”
The future looks bleak for the Alliance.
Its partners are unhappy and already there is confusion on how to tackle the issue.
PROBLEMS that are rocking the MDC Alliance have not come as a surprise.