Where does the power reside?

WASHINGTON - Some commentators are calling for MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, to step down because he has not won any presidential or parliamentary elections since 2000. This type of logic is like some passengers blaming the bus driver for not getting to his destination when everyone knows the bu

s had mechanical problems beyond the drivers control; unless if he could get the passengers out to push the bus all the way to their destinations!

I would suggest the MDCs power and influence can be described as latent. Latent power inherently renders the party essentially weak unless it can mobilize its resources and massive support to attain its objectives through means other than the electoral process.

For the opposition movement in Zimbabwe the latent people power must be transformed into real power. This means mobilizing peoples power not so much to get everybody to vote, but to engage in other strategies like mass action and civil disobedience that will lead to desired objectives without going the futile and frustrating electoral route.

It is therefore an oversimplification to suggest that the split in the MDC has weakened the party. The partys power does not reside in the leadership but in the followers. There is no evidence of a significant split among the followers. No one has taken a scientific poll to prove this.

The big problem is none of the MDC leadership has ever come up with a strategy for confronting Mugabe outside the electoral system. Welshman Ncube is on record as saying that his prosenate group will continue to participate in elections no matter the circumstances. He even said even if the elections were to elect a janitor they would participate. This proves the lack of depth, lack of strategy, lack of vision in the superficial politics of accommodation being so fanatically pursued by the prosenate group.

MDC leadership was essentially weak long before the split. Had they engaged in a systematic and deliberate program of civil disobedience instead of being faithful disciples of the flawed electoral system MDC leadership may have managed to galvanize people into a mass protest.

Historically, the opposition movement in Zimbabwe and Africa has never been a single-party entity. When ZAPU and ZANU split in the heydays of nationalist politics each party engaged in an armed struggle simply because of the futility of pursuing electoral politics.

This split did not, ipso facto, weaken the opposition politics in Zimbabwe. The same applies to apartheid South Africa where there were two distinct parties, the ANC and PAC and later the MDM.

There is room for multiparty opposition politics in Zimbabwe. If the MDC leadership has irreconcilable differences they should amicably part because they will need to form a broad based alliance or front against Mugabe.

There is a very strong case for unity in order project a united front against Mugabe. But as the history of African nationalism has shown, this may not always be possible. In some cases it may only serve to perpetuate existing problems that led to the disunity in the first place.

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