Football fans may enjoy the dribbling wizardry by a footballer, but the game or team’s purpose is to score and win the game.
While dribbling is part of entertainment, it does not win the game. The game is won by finding the goal mouth.
The allegory above aptly summarises Zimbabwe’s opposition politics, especially the Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC-T.
Positive attributes in the form of charisma, ability to draw crowds and resilience, to name a few, abound in this party.
May be there is luck as well.
A combination of poor strategies as well as poor decisions has cost MDC-T dearly. On decision-making, the biggest weakness is in premising power on one person.
When the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) decided to offload its former leadership made up of the late Gibson Sibanda and Tsvangirai into politics, it was resolved that they maintain their positions as president and secretary-general, respectively.
On the last minute, Tsvangirai turned tables upside down.
He demanded to be the president of the new party instead of being secretary-general.
The late Gibson Sibanda gave in and the meeting allowed this unilateral demand to see the light of the day.
Around 2004 a decision had to be made on whether to contest for senatorial elections or not.
The majority voted for contesting the said seats. Tsvangirai bolted out of the meeting only to tell journalists that the meeting had voted against participating in Senate elections, when the opposite was true.
This time around he met resistance, resulting in the 2005 split when Welshman Ncube formed another MDC.
In 2008, Tsvangirai won the presidential elections, yet he did not seize the moment.
He boycotted a re-run. Then came the 2013 general election, Sadc leaders advised against going into the election without implementation of reforms, but the advice was ignored.
During the inclusive government tenure, opposition had a golden chance to stick together and get all reforms in place.
Tsvangirai was preoccupied with shutting out other opposition leaders, the likes of Ncube. Monday teas with President Robert Mugabe sealed his fate. The man thought power would be given to him on a silver platter.
The biggest weapon that opposition had then lay in Tsvangirai’s crowd-pulling antics, while Ncube could articulate legal issues including constitutional issues.
Unfortunately, it was made impossible for other stakeholders to play any meaningful role as the party was between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Many false starts have been made by MDC-T on threatened boycotts, thereby confusing the electorate.
The recalling of 21 MPs and Senators was a punitive and not strategic decision.
Why recall incumbents if you have no intention of contesting the vacated seats?
Why recall only to donate seats to your opponent. The ongoing threats to pull out from Parliament is a face-saver meant to pacify the financiers and supporters who may think the recall was the herald of a bigger pull out.
A string of poor strategies and decisions litter the MDC-T pathway.
Indirectly, it would appear MDC-T follows in the footsteps of Zanu PF, in as far as centralising power on one person and allergy to dissenting voices is concerned.
Allegations that knives are out for Thokozani Khuphe is another brutal attack on women similar to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s fate.
Tsvangirai is a dribbler par excellence. He is charismatic, is a brand and a crowd puller.
While these are necessary characteristics, they remain just that.
There is need to consolidate the critical mass, have sharp shooters, employ winning strategies and engage people who matter most — strategy wizardry is key.