Biti calls for united democratic front and end to hero worship

Opposition politics should not revolve around individual personalities but a team comprising people sharing common values, MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti has said.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti.
MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti.

Biti spoke to The Zimbabwean at the Southern African Political and Economic Series Trust in Harare last Thursday.

He said opposition politics should not begin and end with individual leaders and it was time for Zimbabweans to rally behind a united democratic front, to remove Mugabe and Zanu (PF) from power at the 2018 elections.

“Opposition parties, civil society, student bodies and other democratic forces should team up against Mugabe and his party, since no single small party can successfully challenge Zanu (PF) at elections,” Biti said.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s failure to grab the presidency in 2008 was partly attributed to the number of candidates, since Simba Makoni took away a deciding percentage of the ballot.

Biti said the united force composed of performers and champions rather than powerful leaders should be a broad alliance not a single party. It would focus on central strategic values and bear in mind that the struggle was not about individuals, but the people.

Personalised politics wrong

A call was made for inclusion of fresh ideas, different players and a party leader separate from the presidential election candidate.

The MDC-T secretary-general admitted that his party failed in its 2013 election strategy. He described the election manifesto, centred on JUICE, as too sophisticated for the electorate, which struggled to understand it.

He also blamed party structures responsible for the strategies for failing to articulate coherent messages effective enough to “fell the old man”.

He said instead of selling itself through the JUICE jargon, MDC-T was supposed to give clear and immediate hopes to the people the way Zanu (PF) did.

“Zanu (PF) simply promised people empowerment and Bhora Mugedhe,”

Biti said, emphasising the need for a clean-up in the MDC-T, a party he described as a good house not to be abandoned.

As part of the next political strategy, he suggested that the opposition should identify with the liberation struggle and not liberation movements.

The current economic and political crisis, Biti said, should present opposition parties with the opportunity to regroup into a formidable force “since Zanu (PF) was at its weakest, as a result of internal struggles for power”.

Biti took the opportunity to “assure” people that he knew his responsibilities in MDC-T and would not do anything to leave the party and the struggle for democracy.

“I will never do anything to destroy MDC-T and remain loyal to millions of people who suffered and died for the democratic project,” Biti said.

MDC-T violence horrific

Biti escaped recent violence at MDC-T headquarters when suspended party deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma was attacked by suspected pro-Tsvangirai youths. He said said: “The violence was horrendous and could best be described as hell on earth”.

Hid dismissed claims that the MDC was a western project as rubbish and an insult to the Zimbabwean stakeholders who braved dictatorship to form the party in 1999.

Biti defended Elton Mangoma as a hard-headed politician speaking his mind without donor influence.He urged the MDC-T not to deal with differences through violence. He said opposition politics should respect internal democracy.

“We cannot expect Zanu (PF) to be democratic when MDC-T is not,” he said.

Political analyst Shakespear Hamauswa, said it was the opposition that was at its weakest, not Zanu (PF).

He partly blamed problems surfacing in the opposition parties on a clash of personalities, polarisation and patronage politics.

Hamauswa reminded Biti that opposition parties in Zimbabwe were incompatible and a united front would be difficult to realise.

“Depersonalisation of parties would be difficult since every struggle would have a face,” he said. “Opposition parties should read books about power if they are to mature in politics.”

He blamed the MDC-T election defeat on poor strategies and described the intra-party violence against Mangoma as a schoolboy blunder by those behind it.

Hamauswa suggested that opposition movements narrow their focus to main objectives.

He said that, in its infancy, the MDC managed to attract some sympathisers from within Zanu (PF) and the military before Tsvangirai and his advisors started to blunder.

Hardly 48 hours after Biti had called for tolerance and internal democracy in MDC-T, Mangoma was suspended from the party on Saturday, for suggesting that Tsvangirai step down and make way for a new leader.

Post published in: News
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