Sunday 28 February 2021


ONE OF the prominent founding members of the MDC and former legislator, Blessing Chebundo, says the country’s opposition is going downhill due to tribalism, senseless infighting and a hatred for new ideas.

Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday yesterday, Chebundo — who surprisingly defected to the ruling Zanu PF together with Lillian Timveous last week — said he had become increasingly disillusioned with the goings-on in the strife-torn MDC.

He also said that he had no regrets in crossing the floor to Zanu PF to join hands with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he had twice beaten in Parliamentary elections as an opposition stalwart.

“I respect the current leadership of the MDC (now led by Douglas Mwonzora) … for their efforts in approaching national issues of concern in a non-confrontational manner … That is being responsible.

“However, there is still a very long way to go for the party to recover the political formula and matrix of (the MDC’s much-loved but now late president Morgan) Tsvangirai’s leadership.

“The power dynamics, the intra and inter-factional denigrations, blame games, etc, are not healthy for the party,” Chebundo told the Daily News On Sunday.

“I got disturbed to see the leadership of current MDC groupings leading at different tangents to the ideas of the 12-member pioneer group, as led by the late (MDC co-founder and deputy president Gibson) Sibanda and Tsvangirai.

“I always got angry and frustrated … hence I began to monologue on how best for me to contribute, even in a small way towards the emancipation of the country and its citizens.

“Then, the big question for me was from which angle or platform (to do this), given the obtaining political environment of polarisation in the country, especially in the opposition.

“Bitter or sweet, I realised that I can only do that as a member of the party (Zanu PF), driving the developmental agenda of the country,” Chebundo further told the Daily News On Sunday.

“Indeed, it was a difficult decision given my political background and experiences. But sometimes difficult decisions ought to be made, and made by people in high positions if good things for the country are to be realised … hence I moved,” he added.

The former Kwekwe Central legislator also said the MDC had been on a downward spiral ever since the death of its much-loved leader Tsvangirai — who succumbed to cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day three years ago.

He said this was primarily due to the lack of leadership in the main opposition party.

“It’s all about leadership failure, poor strategies, factionalism and the ‘I know-it-all’ attitude of the leadership. My honest assessment is that the opposition’s power graph has been sliding downwards significantly since the death of Tsvangirai and it worsened post the 2018 elections mainly due to a poor decision matrix by leadership, especially post the 2019 congress of the MDC Alliance faction.

“The Supreme Court judgment also fuelled the situation, although the graph is slightly promising to pick up on the MDC side (after the election of Douglas Mwonzora as its new leader),” Chebundo told the Daily News On Sunday.

“By the way, when we talk about serious opposition in Zimbabwe, we are mainly referring to the MDC. So, it’s all about effects of decision-making.

“Zvinhu zvacho hazvidi ‘ndini chete chete ndinoziva’. Dzimwe nhambo nyaudzo singwi haasi maresults (Some of these things do not need the ‘it’s only me who knows’ attitude, and oratory ability is not results).

“As they say, a roaring lion kills no one. You cannot achieve anything by just talking proverbs. So, opposition is not dead, but needs serious internal overhaul otherwise it will die,” Chebundo further let rip.

He said he had been in the MDC from the day it was formed, and had been greatly pained by the recent turn of events in the country’s main opposition party.

“Indeed I am a founding member of MDC then in its original form in 1999, as led by the late Gibson Sibanda, with the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai as secretary-general.

“The pioneering planning meetings leading to the formation of MDC were held in my office at Saint Andrews House, Leopold Takawira, Zimbabwe Chemical Plastics and Allied Workers Union — where I was the political head for administration and finance, with Remus Makuwaza as secretary-general.

“At the inaugural congress in February 2000, Tsvangirai became president and Sibanda vice president, after a negotiated settlement for these positions, and I was part of those consulted and who supported this arrangement,” Chebundo told the Daily News On Sunday.

This comes as political analysts, including respected University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, have described the move by Timveous and Chebundo as “a godsend” for Mnangagwa and Zanu PF.

“In Chebundo, we are talking about someone with real political capital, having previously defeated Mnangagwa in the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary elections.

“So, it is a momentous development that will help the incumbent to consolidate his power base in Midlands. It is normal that leaders would want to build their power bases from their home provinces before spreading their tentacles elsewhere.

“Mnangagwa wants to be seen as having united the people from his home area to rally behind him after getting the likes of Timveous to his side. It will work wonders for him,” Masunungure said.

The highly regarded political commentator also warned that this latest development in the MDC could open floodgates for more defections to the ruling party in the near future.

“The development will also send shock waves within the opposition support base because it is a strategic issue, and there is likely going to be continued migration to Zanu PF. There is therefore a need for Nelson Chamisa to re-strategise to counteract that,” Masunungure added.

In November last year, Zanu PF also welcomed former Masvingo Urban legislator, Tongai Matutu, to its ranks — with the former MP also decrying the chaos ravaging the opposition.Stephen Chan, a professor of World Politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies said with the ructions that have consumed the MDC since the death of Tsvangirai in 2018, the current mass exodus of senior party officials was not surprising.

“In a way, it’s only surprising that defections of this sort haven’t happened earlier. As the opposition feuds within itself, and as Zanu PF conducts a behind-the-scenes defection diplomacy, it is likely more will defect in the future.

“There is prestige and funding available in politics. In opposition politics, however, foreign funders are increasingly disillusioned by the unending bitterness that the splits have engendered.

“It may be that Chamisa retains some viability as a presidential candidate, more so than Douglas Mwonzora, but I foresee both MDCs having a reduced place in Parliament after the next elections,” Chan said. Daily News


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