Opinion

Why the MDC Alliance must refuse to be bullied

By Alex Magaisa

MDC-T interim president Thokozani Khupe.

Yesterday, I wrote a short BSR showcasing the double standards being employed by leaders of the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T political party. I was going to do a social media post as a follow-up but it morphed into another short article. 

Following my BSR, quite a few said, but WaMagaisa, does it matter when ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is so biased? Will it make any difference? They will just do what they want. It’s an understandable expression of frustration and despair over the compromised nature of the country’s premier political referee. 

But I did not write the BSR in order to convince the ZEC. I did not even write it to appeal to leaders of the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T. I wrote the BSR as a record of facts as they stand, namely that this organisation which now claims the right to contest by-elections as the MDC Alliance has already nominated candidates before ZEC as the MDC-T.

This fact is recorded in General Notice 2266 of 2020, issued by ZEC in the Government Gazette on 21 August 2020. To be allowed to do so would be to permit the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T to have its cake and eat it at the same time, which is a practical impossibility. It is an act of hypocrisy by the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T. 

That is the problem when you’re habitually and institutionally duplicitous. You lie too often, and change versions of the story so regularly that you end up forgetting the last lie. This leads to embarrassing contradictions and u turns. When Morgan Komichi declared they are now the MDC Alliance and will be contesting by elections as such, he had forgotten that they had nominated their candidates for the party-list seats as the MDC-T. Perhaps his comprehension of affairs is so weak that he had no idea that he was contradicting his organisation’s stated position. 

This outfit was happy to distance itself from the MDC Alliance because that served it well. So they said they were MDC-T. They usurped MPs, Councillors, party funding and the party HQ as the MDC-T. They recalled and nominated elected representatives on the basis that they were the MDC-T. They accused the recalled elected representatives because they had “defected” to the MDC Alliance. That’s how they nominated the likes of Thoko Khupe and others as new party-list/PR MPs despite their rejection in the 2018 elections. They deliberately avoided calling themselves the MDC Alliance. It was inconvenient. But in their excessive zeal to usurp power from the MDC Alliance, they “forgot” there were by-elections to be held. 

When they heard by-elections were due in December they realised they would be severely walloped by the MDC Alliance, the party they were robbing. So, to spoil the party, they decided to go after the name; to say, we are now contesting as the MDC Alliance. But they “forgot” that there is General Notice 2266 of 2020 in which they nominated candidates at ZEC as the MDC-T! You would expect them to be embarrassed, but one must first have standards.   

They are behaving like chameleons; their colours changing depending on the environment. These are the same characters who championed their cause as guided by constitutionalism. We cautioned that this was a mere facade; a false claim concealing vindictiveness and political jealousy. Now the facade is falling off faster than one can pronounce the word. Constitutionalism is about limits on power guided by reasonableness. How does this chameleonic behaviour count as constitutionalism?

Therefore, no, I did not write that BSR to convince ZEC or the insincere lot at the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T. I wrote it as a record of facts; I wrote it to show the double standards; to illustrate the chameleonic conduct and the insincerity of the lot masquerading as the opposition. 

I wrote that BSR not because I believe ZEC will follow the path of law, logic, and reason, no. My faith and trust in that institution as a political referee is exceedingly low as is my estimation of most of the individuals who lead that institution. They have, both individually and collectively, let down the cause of democracy and the Zimbabwean family. Their conduct of electoral affairs is an embarrassing reflection of the lowest qualities of humanity.

Most importantly, they have undermined and negated the idea of fair play, which must be at the core of ZEC’s functions as a political referee. It’s a poor lesson to young Zimbabweans for whom the electoral system essentially means fair play does not pay. This is the sad legacy of ZEC and its leadership both past and present. I say this not because I believe they care for their legacy or my estimation of them. I say it because it has to be said.  

I wrote the BSR exposing the double standards on show because the system must know that we know. They can abuse the power they have, but they cannot fool us all. By writing it, I wanted others to avoid being fooled as well. One of the primary causes of the BSR is to demystify political strategies that are presented in legal form, which is why I often write about “lawfare”, in which law is weaponised to achieve political ends. 

Finally, I was minded to support the immediate rebranding of the MDC Alliance for the by-elections. I still believe rebranding needs serious consideration for the long term. But in light of present facts, I do not believe the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T should be allowed the luxury of effectively bullying the MDC Alliance. There are so many things that the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T have gotten away with over the last few months, but they have been too reckless on this occasion.  

This is not a mere sideshow. The opposition is supposed to demonstrate that the crisis of legitimacy is an ongoing process, and not just something confined to the 2018 election. The systematic attempt to throttle and decimate the main opposition is itself a representation of the political crisis in Zimbabwe. This presence of this crisis has to be demonstrated by putting up a fight, not by capitulating to the chameleonic tendencies of ZANU PF surrogates.  The attempt to erase and delegitimise the main opposition as directed by the eliminator in chief has to be exposed. 

I know that the system will back the judicially-constructed MDC-T, as it has done these past few months. But it would be a waste if the MDC Alliance did not seize the moment to expose the hypocrisy and duplicitousness. It can, at its choice, use another name, but it should refuse to be bullied by the insincere lot. It should not be because it is being forced to flee. If the political fight over the name should escalate the crisis, so be it. 

I have demonstrated here and in the last BSR, why the judicially-reconstructed MDC-T is being duplicitous and dishonest; why it can’t possibly eat the cake and still want to have it in its hands at the same time. If ZEC should permit them, and it might very well do so, such is the institutional bias, that would be another nail in the coffin of the political referee.

I warned back in July that there would be problems over the name and advised the need for advance planning. Things are more urgent now given the pending elections. But while the party must have contingency plans, it should refuse to be bullied by this insincere lot. It has objected to the party-list nominations by the MDC-T as the MDC Alliance and must vehemently assert the right to use its rightful name. – Bigsr

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