MDC is clearly unsuitable for government

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I watch with increasing dismay as MDC, the party on which huge numbers of Zimbabweans are pinning their hopes for a better future, shows more and more its unfitness to govern the nation.

by David Barber

Let me make it clear, I am no ZANU PF sympathiser, and I used to strongly believe that MDC would be the answer to Zimbabwe’s problems if only it could gain power. Now, however, I believe that less and less as I watch how it behaves in opposition.

My bubble of enthusiasm for MDC was burst by the concourt hearing almost exactly a year ago, when MDC raised a legal challenge to the legitimacy of last year’s general election and of ED as President of Zimbabwe.

Now, let’s be honest, we all knew that the finding of the court in favour of the government would be a forgone conclusion. We are, after all, talking of a corrupt administration where the rule of law matters not at all. Nevertheless, in purely legal terms, it was abundantly clear that MDC had an absolutely open-and-shut case. So MDC could not have had a more golden opportunity to prove to the whole international community how corrupt the government is.

Instead, to my shocked disbelief, what the world saw was MDC floundering in a case so badly prepared and presented that the judges did not have to be corrupt to reject it. They simply followed the evidence to arrive at a verdict that, according to the evidence, was actually correct.

The MDC case was so badly prepared that most law students would have done a better job, and THAT was why they so comprehensively lost the case. In other words, MDC had handed its failure to the court on a platter. And the international community saw Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party exposed for what it was: amateurish and incompetent.

Given the vital importance of the case to Zimbabwe’s future and that it was on view to the whole world, to throw away such a golden opportunity was utterly unforgiveable. And if a political opposition party cannot even run what should have been a simple open-and-shut court case, how can it be competent enough to run a country?

To compound their error, instead of analysing the case, realising what fools they had made of themselves and learning from their mistakes, they accused the court of corruption. But we could all see that was not true because the government had played a master stroke in allowing the world to watch the whole proceedings “live” on television, so we could all see that the court had actually arrived at a verdict that was obvious and correct strictly according to the evidence.

That was bad enough. Unfortunately, how MDC has conducted its campaign against the government since has only confirmed what an incompetent outfit it now is. Sadly, the days of Morgan Tsvangirai have gone, and with him the MDC we used to know, respect, trust and believe in.

Tsvangirai must be turning in his grave because the leadership that inherited his legacy seems clueless about how to run a successful campaign. Having courage, a determination to succeed and a refusal to give in are never enough, no matter how committed you are. In addition, you have to follow a strict formula if you want to succeed at anything in life.

First, you have to know WHAT to do. Second you need to know HOW to do it. Third, you need to be COMPETENT enough to do carry it through to success. In all three areas, MDC is badly deficient, as was amply demonstrated in the concourt case.

But it has also been amply demonstrated by MDC’s actions since. Almost all the now developed nations were at one time undeveloped just like Zimbabwe. They, too, were ruled by corrupt, oppressive regimes that were give-or-take as bad as Zimbabwe’s. And their citizens suffered just as badly from extreme poverty, starvation and all the other ills Zimbabweans now face.

So how did they escape from a situation as bad as in Zimbabwe, to achieve their present state of affluence? Has MDC even bothered to find out? If it had, it would have discovered that, actually, there is a very narrow path for changing from corrupt to truly and genuinely democratic rule, and for taking citizens from poverty to affluence. What’s more, instead of taking years or decades to do it, it can be done virtually overnight. ANY other route, INCLUDING the one MDC is following, either never succeeds at all or, if it does, only results in changing one corrupt, even brutal government for another corrupt, even brutal government, some even worse than the one it replaced.

If you don’t believe this, look at Africa’s own history since colonialism ended. What many Zimbabweans do not realise is that they are by no means alone in Africa. The citizens of ALL Africa’s 54 nations live in extreme poverty and often under brutal regimes. This is not because it is impossible to dislodge corrupt or brutal regimes because there have been many hundreds of changes of government throughout Africa. Yet over 90% of all Africans still live at subsistence level or less (43% or almost half on under US$1.90 a day). And also over 90% still do not live in a properly working democracy where elections actually work.

So all MDC needed to do was to study how the citizens in the now developed nations went from oppression to freedom and from poverty to affluence, and then follow the same route.

But knowing what to do and then doing it isn’t enough. You also need LEADERSHIP that is competent to lead. And this MDC does not have. If you want proof, just look at the shambles of MDC’s recent so-called “marches”.

I find it inconceivable that MDC had not anticipated the government response and planned how to circumvent it. Doesn’t it even know its own government by now?

I find it inconceivable that MDC wasted time in appealing to the court to overturn the police ban in Harare when it knows – or should know – that the rule of law no longer applies and there would be at least an 80% chance that the court would uphold the police decision.

I find it inconceivable that MDC tamely accepted the court’s ruling and called the march off.

I find it inconceivable that, instead of learning from its mistakes, it then does exactly the same in Bulawayo, and again in Gweru! There is a simple rule of success which MDC clearly does not know: “If what you are doing is not working, then change what you are doing.” Because if you merely repeat what you are doing, you will only get the same result or, in this case, failure.

But what I find most inconceivable of all is that the MDC leaders threw in the towel and left those wonderful, brave, courageous Zimbabweans who nevertheless took to the streets in Harare’s city centre (and the tens of thousands more held back on the outskirts) completely leaderless. That was utterly shameful. No worthwhile leader ever dumps their followers and leaves them to fend for themselves, no matter what the circumstances are. Such people are not worthy to lead a great nation like Zimbabwe. Actually, they show clearly that they care no more for Zimbabwean citizens than the government does.

Clearly, MDC leaders have committed the cardinal error of underrating the competition. And if MDC cannot even organise a march effectively, how can it possibly take on the vastly more complex task of governing a nation?

To make my point, I have only given two obvious examples of the utter incompetence of MDC’s leaders, but there are many others, and more come on an almost daily basis.

Really MDC, you must either step back, take the trouble to learn what you have to do, then work out a strategy that actually will work – in other words, one proven by history to work – and lead Zimbabweans on a proper route to success, or you must give up. But what you must NOT do is to keep on with your abortive actions which only serve to make things worse for the people of Zimbabwe. You have NO right to do that.

There are only two reasons for MDC’s leaders to behave in this way. Either they are just useless. Or, as some would have it, they are guilty of being in the pockets of the government. I have no idea which is correct, but it is irrelevant because each is as bad as the other. But what is true is that if the allegations of being “bought” by the government are not true, then the MDC leadership only has itself to blame for leaving itself wide open to such conspiracy theories.

There are people with an alternative view who blame Zimbabwean citizens for being too cowardly to stand up to ZANU PF. That is absolutely not true. The problem is not, and never has been, its citizens.

Nor, as the MDC keeps insisting, is the government the problem. Had the MDC leadership done its homework, it would have learnt that the natural state of government is not, and never has been, to be democratic. Its nature, if left to itself, is to be corrupt and brutal. Therefore, ZANU PF is only acting in the way ALL governments the world over will if their citizens let them, and you cannot blame it for simply acting in the way ALL governments will if allowed to. Of course, it is not really the citizens who are at fault for this, but the leaders on whom the citizens rely, i.e., the opposition leaders. Because they are the ones who are supposed to know what to do, and this makes them TOTALLY and 100% responsible for allowing their governments to act in this way. So, MDC leaders, don’t blame ZANU PF but blame yourselves. Accept your personal responsibility for the state of Zimbabwe, and you might actually do some good

Far from being cowardly, there are more than enough Zimbabwean citizens who are hungry for change, and prepared to stand up boldly – even in the face of brutality – for their rights and a better life. Look at the tens of thousands who did turn up for the march. All they need are the right leaders to come along to lead them to victory. But unless MDC’s leaders change their attitude dramatically, they are not worthy enough to carry the banner.