I wonder if the silence by most political commentators on Welshman Ncube’s growing political party is deliberate.
By Ndaba Nhuku
I have, however, come across one or two thought-provoking “commentaries” on social networks that interestingly and significantly show how both Zanu PF and MDC-T have been complacent, ignoring Ncube and labelling him as a “village politician”, to borrow from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s description of the MDC leader.
Understandably, Zanu PF’s token campaign seemingly indicates that it has given up on the region and is aware of what is happening on the ground.
This is not surprising, considering Zanu PF never really enjoyed much support in the south-western provinces which were historically Zapu strongholds.
Zanu PF is also cognisant of the provinces’ different and progressive voting pattern. In the 1980s — despite unleashing the might of its campaign gurus Enos Nkala and Herbert Ushewokunze, all holding well attended star rallies in which people were at times coerced into — even aided by 5 Brigade — Matabeleland still resoundingly voted otherwise.
Zanu PF only tasted a majority of Matabeleland seats after the Unity Accord (post-1987) only to be snubbed openly again in 2000 when MDC first contested elections.
Thus Zanu PF, despite the Unity Accord, has only consistently managed to hold onto one or two constituencies in the provinces.
On the other hand, it is surprising that MDC-T has not learnt a lesson and seemingly taken for granted its support in the region.
It could be that the party simply spent its energy focusing on intra-rivalry politics sapping its energy.
It would appear that the party’s campaign in the region is in sync with its performance in the government.
Whereas Ncube and President Robert Mugabe occasionally bemoaned the dying Bulawayo industries, Finance minister Tendai Biti and others seemed to be taking a joy out of it, hence the unexplained Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund, meant to have been pumped into the city for the resuscitation of industry, still has not been disbursed.
This is the same Biti who recently went on to give Harare City Council funds for improving its water supplies while he has ignored the death of Bulawayo industries for more than four years.
MDC-T has abandoned the region during its four years in the unity government, only to emerge with shameful and pathetic insulting issues regarding compensating Gukurahundi victims.
Should we then be surprised that the devolution concept is discussed outside Harare?
MDC-T had, meanwhile, ignored the arrests of people like National Healing co-minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu and well-known artiste Owen Maseko, who were pushing for dialogue on Gukurahundi.
They thought they had confined the “village politician” to rural Matabeleland. They did not even act when Mugabe was using the PM to keep Ncube out of their State House-Global Political Agreement (GPA) principals meetings.
Here is a party with an army of highly educated advisors who failed to see through Mugabe’s cunning GPA coalition with Tsvangirai.
Meanwhile, as the two enjoyed Monday morning teas, Ncube and his team were tirelessly campaigning and recruiting, knocking on people’s doors and drinking the water from the same wells with them.
Speaking in both Shona and Ndebele, he did not need an army of translators or bodyguards to do the work.
He was one with the citizenry and the common man and they fell in love with his party.
It has to be borne in mind that from 2005 when the party split, MDC-T set its attack dogs on Ncube, calling him a tribalist, a Central Intelligence Orgainsation officer, among many other indescribable labels.
Ncube and his team went on their campaigns and recruitments business unabated while Tsvangirai and his advisors enjoyed morning teas with their arch rival Mugabe.
By the time morning teas were being reduced and served cold, it was too late for the MDC-T. Ncube had painted the country green instead.
The “village” tactician outsmarted and outclassed his rivals by inspiring and motivating his team into engaging on an aggressive, relentless and tireless campaign.
The question we all need to ask is: Where were the MDC-T strategists, advisors and campaign teams?
Other than making money, the rest were seemingly on Facebook, either quoting some Biblical wisdom, conducting online surveys with Diaspora folk, insulting or labelling Ncube.
These are the same people asking Ncube to abandon his party by joining an overnight coalition.
How can a dominant party that failed to get into power by a very tiny margin, waste four years not thinking about its next election strategy or keeping in touch with its voters?
The party so strongly listened to those singing its praise and the continued mantra of “smaller MDC breakaway faction” and to armchair analysts, who up to now, view Ncube’s party as inconsequential.
In politics, hearing only what you want to hear can be very costly.
Nothing is as dangerous as praise singers who keep you happy while insulating you from reality.
Nothing is as insulating as having a layer of a separate office of advisors who are removed from the party structures and reality on the ground.
They make a powerful clique outside the party and have jobs to keep by getting angry on your behalf and making up lies and excuses for you.
They are not politicians. No one votes for them and they have nothing to lose. Their sole interest is money and power.
This is what MDC-T fails to comprehend — how just within a space of four years the party could abrasively alienate itself from its alliances and opt to use Mugabe as an ally against Ncube! This is a question I asked some of the PM’s prominent advisors and was told it was not Tsvangirai’s job to make sure Ncube was included in the GPA and that his leadership of that party was controversial and was pending in court.
I insisted that they knew this was not an issue and they dismissed me with the words: “The leader you prefer to be in the GPA is unfortunately unqualified as a principal.”
It now begs the question: Why do they now want a coalition with that unqualified leader?
Could this party, with an army of lawyers and external advisors, not see beyond its nose? Up to now I am stunned by the complacency of the MDC-T and how it seriously views its future on the political map of Zimbabwe given its laissez-faire conduct and attitude to politics. How could its advisors let the Prime Minister fall into Mugabe’s trap?
I once cautioned some of Tsvangirai’s advisors that Mugabe may be physically old, but the man is still as cunning as a fox who thinks well beyond his nose.
In contrast, MDC-T prefers fire-fighting as if it is a reactionary party — always in a defensive mode — or it could be that the party just became too big for the leadership to manage.
It is, therefore, shocking to suddenly have an army of UK-based lawyers and New Zealand-based ghost writers claiming that Ncube’s supporters are tribalists — an insult to Zimbabweans in general.
There is need to mature beyond tribal politics and see each other as Zimbabweans.
That Matabeleland has been won over by Ncube should not surprise them. They abandoned it. The PM’s first Cabinet in 2008 had no leader from the region, something even rumoured to have surprised Mugabe, as he had consistently tried at all costs to balance his Cabinet appointments to represent all regions.
Why are MDC-T supporters surprised by MDC’s overwhelming popularity in Matabeleland?
Why do MPs worldwide go where they hail from or live, to be representatives, just like the Prime Minister tried in Buhera constituency where he lost to his uncle in 2000?
Why did he opt for his home constituency?
Why did Edgar Tekere’s short-lived Zimbabwe Unity Movement become only popular in Mutare and yet no one shouted that that was tribalism?
Does something only become tribal when a Ndebele is involved?
Who says leaders from Matabeleland always have to play a subservient role, even to the likes of Tsvangirai?
Ncube, just like Tsvangirai and Mugabe, is entitled to contest as President of Zimbabwe and does not have to deputise the Prime Minister. The coming election results will present an interesting scenario. MDC has become popular nationwide simply because Ncube has gone out to campaign. Ndaba Nhuku writes in his personal capacity.
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