Political defection – does every man have his price?

If it’s true that some MDC-T officials want to defect to Zanu (PF) (The Zimbabwean Issue 44), I’d say let them. It is a blessing in disguise in that it exposes those who had been Zanu (PF) implants in the first place or shameless opportunists not driven by principles but only by where their bread is buttered. The MDC should instead say with glee: “good riddance to bad rubbish!”.

It is a sentiment expressed by MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora, who said the party “won’t lose sleep over them”, with one commentator perhaps more appropriately labelling the defectors as “political prostitutes”.

It is also significant that it’s almost exclusively officials and not the grassroots who are defecting – no doubt because they hope to be catapulted into similar or higher positions in Zanu (PF).

To its credit, the main MDC-T has a put a provision in place whereby anyone joining the party or crossing the floor from another party cannot take up any leadership position until a stipulated number of years. The MDC-T has not changed its policies since July 31.

These are the same policies that these officials subscribed to. So what is the rationale behind their defections barely three months down the line? It is surely because the party lost in the disputed elections and is not in a position to distribute patronage.

Nor has Zanu (PF), supposedly their nemesis only a few months ago, changed its policies either. It has not indicated in its Cabinet appointments, policy declarations or implemented changes so far that it signals making the country any better than it has always been under their exclusive rule. And, if anything, the prospects look worse.

Opportunism is not a new phenomenon in our body politic. What is particularly sad is that Zanu (PF) makes opportunism pay and, as some of us see it, for very sinister reasons.

I can recall that during the Lancaster House negotiations in London in 1979, a good number of people who had not been supporting Zanu (PF) up to then, with some even having been hostile to it, rushed to assist delegates with household chores and otherwise.

But lo and behold, come independence a few months after, a good number of them were catapulted into powerful and strategic positions in the new government, gazumping many over loyal members of many years’ standing with equivalent if not greater skills and experience.

Among the more surprising appointments to the new government was a Nathan Shamuyarira, an erstwhile high-profile member of FROLIZI, a pseudo revolutionary party which some claim, rightly or wrongly, never fired a single shot at the enemy! Yet this man was appointed to a strategic position in the new government and the party. To highlight his subsequent infamous comments on Gukurahundi would be a digression.

Much later on is the story of a Jonathan Moyo, reportedly a Zanu Ndoga guy, who for years had been a thorn in the flesh of Zanu (PF) in his writings and speeches as a UZ academic. However, in 2000, he had something of a Pauline conversion for which he was catapulted to the position first held by the Nathan Shamuyarira – a position he has been reappointed to in spite of being rejected by his very own in Tsholotsho. The advent of diamonds brings a new dimension to the opportunism syndrome, especially now with Zanu (PF) able to use earnings from diamonds with hardly any scrutiny and accountability.

Yes, diamonds proceeds are not used to alleviate the poverty of millions living nor to repair roads that have claimed so many lives, but for lining the pockets of the well-connected and already rich.

They are used as a slush fund to bribe people to join their ranks and for power for its own sake.

Post published in: Analysis

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