BY SILENCE CHIHURI
A very distinguished acquaintance of mine recently remarked that politicians were never judged by the way they entered the political arena but rather by their exit.
Nelson Mandela is now effectively a non-politician, despite “retiring” several times from ”retirement” as he usually jokingly retort. This is a man who was referred to as a terrorist for the better part of his political career, even though the actual truth was to the contrary.
Once he was accorded the opportunity to demonstrate leadership to his people, Mandela did not disappoint. He surpassed the expectations of his people by not just conquering the national stage but the entire international arena as well. He is now a beacon in the sphere of statesmanship, having earned himself the nominal title of President of the World.
Today, it is on the manner in which Mandela left the political stage that the world judges him.
In the history of Zimbabwean politics, Joshua Nkomo is known as one who entered national politics with a bang and lived his entire life there. When he left the national podium, he did so in style – testified by the huge send-off he received from Zimbabweans across all the divides.
Indeed, there may have been a few times either side of independence when Nkomo’s popularity, or to put it correctly, his relevance to Zimbabwean politics, seemed to dip a little. However, careful analysis would reveal that this was largely due to the works of forces beyond his control, because whenever Umdhala was accorded free reign on the national stage, the man always rose to the occasion.
Nkomo would never disappoint and this is why he is remembered by all Zimbabweans as Father
Despite being persecuted and at times humiliated, Nkomo went on to demonstrate how much of a politician par excellence he was. The Unity Accord between PF Zapu and Zanu was very much dependent on Nkomo not just showing sufficient humility to come on board, but also whipping into line his militant lieutenants.
Of course, credit should also be given to Robert Mugabe, who realised that lasting peace was more achievable through peaceable engagement. It was a combination of statesmanship on Mugabe’s part and selflessness on Nkomo’s part that made unity and subsequent peace a reality.
However Mugabe still has to turn things round for his people – or risk being judged very harshly as another leader who failed a nation.
The same national duty that Nkomo and Mugabe felt during that time, that they owed it to the people of Zimbabwe to bring peace out of their egos and political differences, should today bear on Morgan Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda to see the need for re-uniting the MDC.
Of course the situation is different, in that the latter belong to the same party, though torn apart on factional lines. But the duty bestowed upon them holds the same significance to the Zimbabwean political situation.
Tsvangirai and Sibanda both enjoy the confidence of equally militant lieutenants, just as Nkomo and Mugabe did then, and it is imperative upon them to prevail over these people and make the peace. If the two men take the first plunge then surely we all would follow them into the waters of unity – as long as they swim towards peace.
Tsvangirai and Sibanda should all put country before self, and think of the people, who will continue to suffer in the political and economic turmoil that a divided MDC will precipitate. Both men seem to command great following and all they need is to turn that fellowship into a united front to fight a common cause, because this is not about “them versus us”, or “this and the other”, but it is about one people and one cause.
This is their chance to rise to the occasion and they should seize the moment. It will take true nationalists to build a nation – and this is would be a very cherished characteristic if manifested through the two most senior MDC leaders.
Should they fail to achieve that, they will surely go down as the leaders who divided their people. Neither man will emerge as truly great, and neither will the MDC as a political force.Post published in: Opinions