Be­ware the ghost of Beng­hazi

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion - Spec­trum Jo­ram Ny­athi

YOUTH is a pe­riod of im­petu­os­ity and ad­ven­ture. It is a time to test and ex­per­i­ment. It is a pe­riod of phys­i­cal and men­tal growth. Youth is a time of dis­cov­ery and for self­def­i­ni­tion. It is a time to search for one­self and to also reach out for op­por­tu­ni­ties thrown about by good for­tune. In Zim­babwe pol­i­tics has pro­vided one of the most fer­tile grounds for the ad­ven­tur­ous, and the am­bi­tious. Es­pe­cially since 2000, de­based though op­po­si­tion pol­i­tics has been.

On July 15 this year MDC-T leader Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai sprang a sur­prise when he ap­pointed two long-serv­ing mem­bers of his party vice pres­i­dents.

That’s Nel­son Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri. The sur­prise was that the two had not been his clos­est al­lies in the party since his ig­no­min­ious loss to Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe in the July 31, 2013, har­monised elec­tions.

Mudzuri had then fash­ioned sce­nar­ios whose ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive was to get Ts­van­gi­rai out of the way. Chamisa, on the other hand, was viewed as too am­bi­tious and a per­sonal threat to Ts­van­gi­rai’s lead­er­ship of the party.

A few days be­fore the sur­prise ap­point­ments, which up­set and riled many in the party ranks, not least the sole serv­ing fe­male vice pres­i­dent Thokozani Khupe, party sec­re­tary gen­eral Dou­glas Mwon­zora and spokesman Obert Gutu, Ts­van­gi­rai had dis­closed that he had been di­ag­nosed with can­cer of the colon.

He said he was re­ceiv­ing treat­ment in South Africa. Elias Mudzuri and Nel­son Chamisa, he told be­liev­ers and non-be­liev­ers, were ap­pointed to re­lieve At­las’s load from his fail­ing shoul­ders.

But since dis­clos­ing his phys­i­cal ail­ment Ts­van­gi­rai has not rested from party ac­tiv­i­ties, only he couldn’t have an­tic­i­pated the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of his ap­point­ment of helpers.

Since then he has es­ca­lated his search for a pact of op­po­si­tion forces ahead of the 2018 elec­tions, a search which, in­ad­ver­tently, has alarmed his ap­pointees about his true in­ten­tions, and raised the ide­o­log­i­cal stakes in the in­tended coali­tion.

The char­i­ta­ble view when Ts­van­gi­rai ap­pointed Mudzuri and Chamisa as his deputies was that he prob­a­bly was too sick to con­tinue ac­tive party work and was there­fore work­ing out a sys­tem­atic suc­ces­sion plan in the party, which he could man­age by re­mote con­trol.

In­clud­ing the even­tual per­son to take over as party leader among the three vice pres­i­dents.

Some two weeks ago Ts­van­gi­rai seems to have got­ten too close to Zim­babwe Peo­ple First leader Dr Joice Mu­juru.

To­day we hear there are 18 po­lit­i­cal par­ties which have joined hands. But it is Mu­juru who ap­pears to have rat­tled MDC-T se­nior mem­bers and mud­died the suc­ces­sion ma­trix.

While to an out­sider and the gen­eral MDC-T mem­ber­ship Dr Mu­juru might look like a fat catch who brings in her train vot­ers and lib­er­a­tion war cre­den­tials (and pos­si­bly the vote of dis­af­fected war vet­er­ans) to lend op­po­si­tion pol­i­tics elec­toral grav­i­tas, in the up­per ech­e­lons mat­ters are not so clean, and Chamisa made this clear last week­end. Put it to am­bi­tion and im­petu­ous­ness, and some bit­ter­ness.

He told party sup­port­ers in his Kuwadzana East con­stituency that the party could not al­low mafik­i­zo­los to make a me­te­oric rise to the apex of the party and lead­er­ship.

That was a pre­serve of those who had al­ways been in op­po­si­tion pol­i­tics, he said. The al­lu­sion to Mu­juru de­mands no sci­ence or proph­esy. What’s not clear is how Ts­van­gi­rai did not see it com­ing.

Ts­van­gi­rai dan­gled a car­rot to Mudzuri and Chamisa by an­nounc­ing that he was sick, and sec­ondly by ap­point­ing them to suc­ceed him, as it were.

But by bring­ing in Dr Mu­juru, Ts­van­gi­rai is in fact say­ing my suc­ces­sion is not a done deal.

He wants to fight an­other day, and pos­si­bly work out a deal in which he is ei­ther leader of that coali­tion or its deputy, thus push­ing Chamisa and Mudzuri fur­ther down in the peck­ing or­der.

It is a form of power usurpa­tion young and am­bi­tious Chamisa can­not stom­ach and is set to up­set this mar­riage of con­ve­nience be­tween the MDC-T and Peo­ple First project.

While Ts­van­gi­rai is try­ing to draw Dr Mu­juru closer as an ally and pos­si­bly a rung on the lad­der to State House, she is seen by Ts­van­gi­rai’s deputies as an un­der­serv­ing in­truder, an im­ped­ing ri­val in the MDC-T house, and an ob­sta­cle in what, un­til the Gweru pho­to­show, looked like a gold-paved high­way for Chamisa.

He might find it nec­es­sary to get out of Ts­van­gi­rai’s shadow, who is com­pro­mised now, to fight for the soul of MDC-T in his own right. But be­sides the quest for power, Dr Mu­juru has prob­lems of her own, that is if she has per­sonal prin­ci­ples and has ever stood for any­thing other than power. The MDC-T can­not be the pedestal upon which any sel­f­re­spect­ing war vet­eran would stand to reach for the man­tle of pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic. And that in­cludes the whole lot of war vet­er­ans sup­port­ing her.

Let’s put mat­ters into per­spec­tive. Un­like Ts­van­gi­rai’s MDC, Zanu-PF did not split.

Mu­juru did not leave Zanu-PF on mat­ters of prin­ci­ple or pol­icy.

She and her col­leagues were fired for try­ing to rush the suc­ces­sion train. Un­til the very last minute, she in­sisted she was Zanu-PF de­spite pres­sure, ca­jol­ing, in­sti­ga­tion and in­duce­ment to break away and to form a po­lit­i­cal party.

The same goes for the war vet­er­ans who sup­port her. They in­sist they are Zanu-PF and can­not be any­thing other than Zanu-PF.

It is hard, though not im­pos­si­ble, to imag­ine them ex­change the black fist for a white, open palm cam­paign­ing for a Ts­van­gi­rai or Mu­juru pres­i­dency.

In the strict sense of the word, there is no ide­o­log­i­cal con­tes­ta­tion in Zanu-PF. And Zanu-PF can be any­thing but MDC-T, ide­o­log­i­cally.

But in a quest for power, any­thing is pos­si­ble. Ve­nal­ity and op­por­tunism can mas­quer­ade as strat­egy. Be­cause at heart, Dr Mu­juru wants power, but as leader of Zanu-PF.

So, the ro­mance, when it ends, which should start un­rav­el­ling soon, Ts­van­gi­rai should be out for com­pro­mis­ing and Chamisa in for con­sis­tency and keep­ing the party clean of Zanu-PF re­jects.

For at the heart of the MDC-T is regime change, and war vet­er­ans can’t be part of that project.

Echoes of Beng­hazi Few even among the most valiant war vet­er­ans would want to wear Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral Au­gus­tine Chi­huri’s shoes at the mo­ment. They are too heavy.

It is im­por­tant to sep­a­rate pre­texts for regime change from gen­uine so­cial protests against pre­vail­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions.

So­cial protest has be­come a global phe­nom­e­non since the re­ces­sion set in be­gin­ning 2007. Much of Europe is still reel­ing. Its epi­cen­tre in the US hasn’t set­tled. There is no magic to just “fix it”.

It is the gen­uine griev­ances of the peo­ple un­der a sanc­tioned econ­omy which are be­ing used by those who im­posed the sanc­tions to push the regime change agenda, and the MDC-T is in the mood for the fi­nal push. That’s why Chi­huri’s job is un­en­vi­able.

MDC-T youth leader, one Hap­py­more Chidziva, was blunt on Wed­nes­day on what the de­struc­tive demon­stra­tions sought to achieve.

He told party youths be­fore the protest be­gan in Harare: “Elec­tions are not the only way of re­mov­ing a demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment or pres­i­dent from power in a democ­racy.

“Peace­ful protests are a le­gal means of re­mov­ing gov­ern­ments from of­fice, whether they were elected by Nikuv or dead vot­ers.”

Those ag­i­tat­ing for and in­sti­gat­ing the protests have not been coy about the at­ten­tion they want. They have re­peat­edly called for for­eign in­ter­ven­tion, start­ing with Sadc.

The at­ten­tion they seek is beyond Sadc, hence the ob­ses­sion with so­cial me­dia post­ings. The po­lice are be­ing pro­voked and goaded into bat­tle. Into war zones.

What a bet­ter way to recre­ate Libya’s Beng­hazi than to flight pic­tures of “in­no­cent un­armed civil­ians” be­ing flayed by a bru­tal po­lice force!

Then if the “peace­ful protests” get too hot the temp­ta­tion to bring in the army. A per­fect al­ibi for a rechris­tened UNSC Res­o­lu­tion 1973 of March 17, 2011, on Libya.

It’s a task Hil­lary Clin­ton should be very ex­cited to un­der­take pur­suant to Zidera, to end this threat to Amer­i­can in­ter­ests.

This is what the peace­ful stones and cat­a­pults are meant to pre­cip­i­tate. And how long an elected gov­ern­ment can peace­fully pro­tect it­self from peace­ful stones with the un­canny ca­pac­ity to burn po­lice ve­hi­cles and loot shops can be the mother of all dilem­mas.

And what’s the mean­ing of democ­racy if the will of the ma­jor­ity can be legally sub­verted by those who lose?

MDC vice pres­i­dent Thokozani Khupe

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.