Mugabe, Tsvangirai teacher, student

NOW that the dust is settling after the political whirlwind in Zanu PF, let us go back to mother earth, and do what has to be done.

Again, we felt betrayed and beaten by cunning old Robert Mugabe. For me, getting down to mother earth means ensuring we do not repeat this ever again. Sorry, knowing human history as I now do, it repeats itself with stunning similarity.

How I so wish it was not like that. But then, it seems inevitable. I hear so many people asking for Joice Mujuru to join the opposition and bring in her supporters. Oh God, there we cry for history to repeat itself yet again.

We have more than enough political gods in Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai. To add Mujuru who is also a student of Mugabe would be hammering the last nail into the insane coffin of our politics.

The difference between Mugabe and Tsvangirai whose parties have both just had congresses is zero; because they are both the product of the same issue, parties formed out of discontentment and carrying nationally appealing false labels. Zanu carries the revolutionary mantra.

It was formed by those unhappy with Zapu leadership and, mainly a tribal party. MDC-T carries the democratic label and was formed out of unhappiness with the economic malaise bedevilling Zimbabwe from 1999 and from the way Zanu was governing the country.

Thus, besides their wives whose ages are half theirs, and their publicly displayed affection for them, Mugabe and Tsvangirai have a lot more in common.

The two leaders had for a while owned Zimbabwe’s political heartbeat by virtue of “owning” the two powerful parties and firing and hiring willy-nilly.

They have their parties’ blessings; backed up by their amended constitutions. Sadly, both these leaders had their first popular wives die at the peak of their husbands’ political careers.

President Robert Mugabe and Morgan-Tsvangirai

President Robert Mugabe and Morgan-Tsvangirai

They went on to quickly marry younger wives, young enough to be their daughters. Both wives quickly got the labels, “amai”, “mother of the nation”, which they adored and used to maximum effect.

Their tastes for finer things of life are well known world-wide, and this has led to their husbands deciding not to leave the vestiges of power.

Not only that, now we have seen one of these two women enter public politics and aspire or want to take over. Grace has just made it clear.

It all started with amai Tsvangirai. As soon as she got “married” to him she became his followers’ darling “amai” and was consequently thrown right into the MDC-T campaign during the 2013 general elections. She terrorised Tsvangirai’s lieutenants, having some shoved from one office to another.

She fought personal vendettas and scored heavily, to some extent, contributing towards making her husband a political laughing stock.

Anyone she suspected was involved in her husband’s philandering felt the power of her wrath. Her fights with Thokolani Khupe, the Makoneses and others became the talk of the party gurus as it affected its operations.

Grace’s political “bedroom coup” and “corruption expose” will enter the Encyclopaedia of African political history as legendary. No one ever anticipated the stunning entry and deliverance she did. Within two weeks her political tsunami had wiped off the core leadership of the party and government.

It was as if she was studying Elizabeth Tsvangirai to improve on her blunders. With frightening and spectacular speed she had her husband change his team to what she wanted.

Both Tsvangirai and Mugabe have succeeded in owning their parties because they have fervent supporters who have turned them into gods who cannot be criticised. Thus they have held the political life of the country at ransom.

Both have learnt from each other, Tsvangirai learning everything Mugabe did and does in politics from marrying a very young woman, to surrounding himself with boot-licking uncritical fervent supporters.

Mugabe learnt from Tsvangirai that he did not always need violence to win an election, but to Nikuv, dictate and rig his own primaries to install preferred candidates. Former MDC-T Samuel Sipepa Nkomo and many other officials are on record as admitting that MDC-T rigs its own primary elections!

Mugabe moved a notch higher and left the world dazed with his super rigging of the national 2013 elections.

The most critical similarity between these two is that it is taboo for anyone within the party to be seen as being ambitious and to aspire to take over from them.

In MDC-T, Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa would attest to that whilst in Zanu PF, Emneson Mnangagwa and Mujuru know the dire consequences of exposing any notions of ambitions.

Their fiercely loyal supporters ensure the leaders get whatever they want, hence, the easy amendments of the parties’ constitutions to make the leaders solely hold the parties at ransom whilst turning them into private properties.

Zanu PF and MDC-T similarities are clearly visible in what their recent congresses delivered. First, Tsvangirai and those close to him ensured challengers like Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma had been harassed till they left the party so that the president had “free reign” in changing it the way he wanted. Secondly, the MDC-T congress also effectively silenced Tsvangirai’s other potential challenger, Nelson Chamisa.

He unexpectedly and inexplicably lost a post that had long been fore concluded as his. Tsvangirai had demonstrated what could be done with trouble makers.

He did not end there. He battered the party constitution and personally delivered the party into his bedroom. It was effectively left to him and his wife to control and own.

The changes brought by MDC-T Congress, as if a precursor to Zanu PF’s, included agreeing ‘to amend the constitution to allow the president to be the custodian of the party name, custodian of all party assets, to supervise all in the leadership, to be the party’s chief fundraiser and to suspend national standing committee members through the national council for breach of the party constitution.

In this regard the secretary general shall no longer be responsible ‘for all party affairs in the National Secretariat’ and shall report to the President.

This effectively and by default makes Tsvangirai the first secretary of the party, just like Mugabe. ‘congress resolved to ratify the recommendation of national council to expand the members of the national standing committee to include the secretary for elections who shall be appointed by the president.

Congress resolved that deputies of officers of congress except the vice president and the vice chairperson shall not be elected from the next congress but will be appointed by the president from a pool of national executive members elected from the provinces just like what Mugabe has done,’ so reads part of the congress resolutions read.

Effectively, the president owns the party, hires and fires, appoints and disappoints officials at will. He owns the party and its resources, and officials serve at his mercy. He doesn’t even need to consult! It is a one man dictatorship and no one questions his decisions except his wife.

Indeed Welshman Ncube was right when he said Tsvangirai was a Mugabe student. How did lawyers like Obert Gutu and Douglas Mwonzora come to agree to such a constitution?

What is the difference between MDC-T and Zanu PF? Can Tsvangirai have any moral right to oppose Mugabe?

On what basis and for what when he led the way in raping his party’s constitution? Like Tsvangirai, as if the teacher was now learning from his student, Mugabe, his wife and their excitable supporters brutally discredited and chased away their potential challenger, the then vice president Mujuru and her numerous supporters just before the congress. The Zanu Congress resolved nothing different from the MDC-T’s.

The Zanu congress conceded and consolidated all party powers to the first secretary and president of the party, Mugabe.

In this charade of a congress, it was only Mugabe himself who did not go through the electoral process whilst his wife was also just confirmed as women’s league leader.

After the firing of the potential challenger, Mujuru and her supporters, Mugabe had his congress that served to appoint central committee members from whom he picked his preferred loyal politburo members and his new vice-presidents.

Again Mugabe made the final decision on who to appoint, not the people. Mugabe owns the party. Is it an anomaly to say there is no difference between Mugabe and Tsvangirai and the way they both manage the affairs of their parties?

Chris Dube is a political commentator

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