Monday, July 08, 2013

(HERALD ZW) Zimbabwe: Curing the Grand Headache
Saturday, 29 June 2013 00:01

First, the grand alliance. More accurately called the grand headache, this has always been an anguished wish for Tsvangirai and for the strong but losing anti-Zanu-PF lobby in the West, than an imperative of local politics and local politicians. At the time of writing, the activities at the nomination court have been demolishing the supposed alliance in grand style, and with it grand headlines from warped newsrooms! Tsvangirai has registered under MDC-T. Makoni has receded to Makoni West where he will meet his fate at the hands of a young boy called Chipanga.

Oh, how are the mighty fallen! Dabengwa has registered for presidency. His fate needs no divination. Welshman Ncube has registered as a presidential candidate. At the time of writing, Mutumwa Mawere was trying to register, I don’t know with what result. It explains his frenetic quest for dual citizenship, hopefully to double his chances of presidency: here in Zimbabwe, the land he doubts, there is South Africa, the home he borrows.

Does he remember our altercation, that altercation he thought he had won through my calculated silence? Today vengeance is mine, and I can goad and irritate him, at a time answering back will prove too costly.

True to his surname, he is an eleventh hour entry, very sure to skid down the slope! Kumawere.

The happy see-saw

[Simba Makoni] Of course Ncube and Makoni make interesting see-saw partners. One started up, started presidential, until gravity beckoned and brought him right down to the earth’s navel. That was Simba in 2008! The other was more geometrical, choosing to start in a Bulawayo constituency. He lost.

That means the fate was the same, but less thudding arguably. Today he has scaled up the ladder, to reach the plinth of presidency, that is if a failed attempt is generously interpreted as amounting to a beginning. Well, that’s Welshman Ncube. As with Simba, it is not very hard to predict his end.

All that remains to conjecture is whether or not his failure will be a gallant one. But even though the grand headache has ended, still it is worth analysing, given what it suggested potentially, given that it might be revisited in the event — quite unlikely — of a hung result.

Two bare and bitter politicians

I said the grand alliance was driven by outsiders. That it was. It was founded on a terrified discovery of serious weaknesses by those who had created an opposition project here to oust Zanu-PF. Tsvangirai has become weak, very weak, and his two alter egos have always been Simba Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa. Two very bare but bitter politicians who cannot wait to see the back of President Mugabe. Their bareness comes from the fact that collectively and singly, their bitterness has failed to find organizational root and support on the ground, whether within Zanu-PF or beyond it.

Indeed their bareness comes from their fast fading aura as once revered figures from history, or from some vaunted technocratic past. That vanishing aura threatens to outpace their fast-setting prospects in politics, which is why any combination which promises to shake their bête noire becomes politically affable. Hence their willingness to prostrate themselves before a man they bedim by way of intrinsic qualities, indeed prostrate themselves before politics which sit oddly with, smell odious against, what they espoused in their heroic past.

Theirs is bitter hatred that eats scruples and repudiates an honourable history.

Supplanting, surpassing liberation politics

But there is a deeper worry compounding their desperation. By launching a Zapu which could not be the real, legendary ZAPU of Joshua Nkomo, Dabengwa not just retreated to a tribal shell; he forfeited and ceded all prospects in Zanu-PF to his wartime juniors.

Simply, he can’t be a claimant to a post inside a party whose membership he has renounced. And rejoining is more mortifying: he would now have to salute his erstwhile juniors, a situation far more humiliating than saluting President Mugabe, his genuine senior and wished-for sparring partner.

And what is true of Dabengwa becomes vicariously true for Makoni. And both have denied themselves the benefit of conjecture. Everyone now knows their worth by way of their constituencies out there. Their constituencies barely go beyond the doorstep, are negatively populous!

And since the two’s prospects can no longer be pursued within Zanu-PF, both are now bent on destroying Zanu-PF, and supplanting and surpassing liberation politics in the country in favour of a new type of politics and organization which make them eligible once more, which make them equal or better than their peers after a Zanu-PF dominated era. And the instrument for that scenario would have been Mavambo in alliance with the two MDCs in 2008. It failed.

That instrument would have been Zapu after Mavambo, again in alliance with the two MDCs. That, too, failed. That instrument would have been the grand alliance of 2013, what Makoni tried to rename Movement for Real Change. Again, that has failed. We are looking at the inventiveness of severely weakened politicians looking at a salvage, looking for a revival formulae. And without any support base, time or organizational infrastructure, they sought to ride on the two MDCs.

Soiling pretty faces
The wish for a grand alliance, too, emanates from a recognition and admission that both MDC formations have severely declined from their relative zenith of 2008. It is also a recognition that both Mavambo and its tribal successor offshoot, Zapu, have lost their appeal as vehicles through which to disrupt and destabilise Zanu-PF. After all collaboration between Mavambo, and then Zapu, and the MDC formations pre-dates 2008 elections, which means the so-called grand alliance is an old collaboration that until recently was being managed covertly. The fact of mutually diminished prospects is what has foully thrust it into the open, much like a pussing ulcer. Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T have become too blunt and too disabled to handily advance western interests.

They have soiled the facade of integrity and democracy, the two factors which gave their sell-out politics pretty faces and decency. Their handlers have seen this decline, even revealing it to the world. Rather than watch helplessly as its strategic prospects in Zimbabwe wash away irrecoverably, the West has taken a new stance which requires a nuanced understanding for an effective counter.


The new West

The hard-liners within the West continue to attack Zanu-PF, to support MDC-T, or both, hoping that perchance MDC-T and Tsvangirai may just pull a miracle. Or that Zanu-PF may just make some costly strategic last-minute blunder which the opposition may capitalize on. This is why so much had been invested in both litigation and Sadc.

The membership in this camp though is small - very small — and is gnawed by serious self-doubts that often express themselves in contradictory advice and stance on Zimbabwe. But they need some parapet, which is where the advocacy NGOs come in handy. In their attack and/or support stance against Zanu-PF and for the MDCs respectively, they keep sending assessment teams in the country both to damage-probe and to sustain some strings of contact with Zanu-PF in anticipation of its victory which they hope to avert. This is a very anxious camp nowadays.

Disappointed but pragmatic

The soft-liners come in two sub-camps. There is a camp which is angry or disappointed but pragmatic enough to face the inevitable. This camp will neither cultivate Zanu-PF nor provoke or upset it. It has adopted a standstill position, waiting for time to deliver its merciless verdict.

But the anti-Zanu-PF reflex simmers, politely expressing itself as measured criticism of processes and/or incidents in the country, balanced off by way of unusually loud protestations at wild statements by errant politicians from own home governments or region. We saw this when reckless comments were made around re-engagement mission of Chinamasa, and also when Brussels almost got its fact-finding mission stopped from coming.

Of course, the still position is disguised through periodic diplomatic visits to Zimbabwe done in the name of the inclusive Government, falsely distributing attention evenly across GPA parties.

The group has a nice lip but a closed (not fisted) palm. It won’t relate to Zanu-PF or its ministries meaningfully.


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