US-MDC relations…desperation or insanity?

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By Tafadzwa Masango

A FEW weeks ago, I wrote that ZANU PF had reinvented itself.
Change is the only constant in life so the party has regenerated itself, become more hip, articulating new polices in line with its ethos and as such, making it attractive to new demographics.
On the other hand, ZANU PF’s competition has not learnt anything from its past.
There is a saying: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
That is exactly what is going on in the opposition forces.
That the opposition MDC are surrogates for the anti-ZANU PF lobby which has been battling to topple the former liberation movement for the better part of two decades is the worst kept secret.
In a report The end is Nigh, which is part of many US reports that leaked under Wikileaks, former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, expressed his discontent with his country’s pet project in Zimbabwe, the MDC.
The report by Ambassador Dell was published on November 28 2010.
In the report, Ambassador Dell makes the following observations which are very important for Zimbabweans to note:
– Zimbabwe’s opposition is far from ideal and I leave convinced that had we had different partners we could have achieved more already.
But you have to play the hand you’re dealt.
With that in mind, the current leadership has little executive experience and will require massive hand holding and assistance should they ever come to power.
– Tsvangirai is also a flawed figure, not really open to advice, indecisive and with questionable judgment in selecting those around him.
He is the indispensable element for opposition success, but possibly an albatross around their necks once in power.
In short, he is a kind of Lech Walesa character: Zimbabwe needs him, but should not rely on his executive abilities to lead the country’s recovery.
– Arthur Mutambara is young and ambitious, attracted to radical, anti-Western rhetoric and smart as a whip.
But, in many respects, he is a light-weight who has spent too much time reading US campaign messaging manuals and too little thinking about the real issues.
l Welshman Ncube has proven to be a deeply devisive and destructive player in the opposition ranks and the sooner he is pushed off the stage, the better.
But he is useful to many, including the regime and South Africa, so is probably a cross to be borne for some time yet.
– The prospects of healing the rift within the MDC seem dim, which is a totally unnecessary self-inflicted wound on their part this time.
With few exceptions – the talent is thin below the top ranks.
The great saving grace of the opposition is likely to be found in the Diaspora.
– Unfortunately, among the MDC’s flaws is its inability to work more effectively with the rest of civil society.
The blame for this can be shared on both sides (many civil society groups, like the NCA, are single-issue focused and take the overall dynamic in unhelpful directions; others, like WOZA, insist on going it alone as a matter of principle), but ultimately it falls to the MDC as the largest and the only true political party, to show the way.
Once again, however, these are natural allies and they have more reason to work together than fight against each other.
Despite the US being very much aware the horse it has backed since 1999 is not fit for the race, it has remained strong-headed and unwilling to move from its initial position of removing ZANU PF from power.
Zimbabwe could learn a thing or two from how the US has remained adamant in punishing Cuba which it placed under sanctions as part of its Cold War operations against the then USSR.
Today, the US trades with Russia and yet it continues to punish Cubans for siding with the Russians.
That is just how illogical the Americans are.
In the book, The Hard Road to Reform, in the second chapter titled, ‘The Opposition Dilemma in Zimbabwe: A critical review of the politics of the MDC parties under the GPA transitional framework’, James Mazondidya wrote:
“Much more significantly, the MDC parties’ political effectiveness in influencing GPA processes has been influenced by their respective organizational weaknesses manifested in the lack of cohesion, indiscipline, ineffective strategy and limited participation.
From the onset of GPA Government, the MDC parties’ participation was constrained by their lack of governing experience and weak leadership capacity.
As the MDC treasurer Roy Bennett reportedly acknowledged in his private conversation with the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, in 2010 the parties lacked people with experience in administration and the few who had it were overstretched – the MDC had always struggled to attract and retain Zimbabwe’s intellectuals and elites within its leadership structures.
This has ultimately affected its capacity to engage in the sophisticated art of governance.”
In another submission, the book goes on to chronicle how factionalism worsened intra-party tensions and corruption in the MDC-run local authorities as further examples of why that party was not yet ready to govern Zimbabwe.
“The corruption among the party’s representatives in local authorities, MDC parliamentarians and government officials, as the MDC leadership itself has admitted, has the potential to cost the party dearly during the next election (2013).”
Once again, another election is upon us and the red flags that the likes of Ambassador Dell, Bennett and Mazondidya raised over the years continue to dog the opposition.
Interesting is of course that with Tsvangirai’s departure, one would have thought the ‘new’ MDC leadership would reinvent the party, but alas, it remains the same, still grasping at straws, attacking ZANU PF, making up stories and stage managing political events in a bid to maintain a narrative that it, together with the paid civil society it has used for close to two decades, can run Zimbabwe.
The political environment has changed and ZANU PF has adapted, however, the MDC risks extinction much like an animal that fails to adapt to its changing environment.
The US has no qualms about maintaining sanctions on Zimbabwe for the next 100 years because it is not Americans suffering under these sanctions, but some people of colour thousands of miles away from them.
If the US Government has no problem with the wanton gunning down of black women, men and children on its streets, what makes the MDC think it is concerned about Zimbabweans?

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