MDC leaders want to attack Mugabe government, but comfortably remain its senior members

Sep 13, 2011

The MDC parties are on to a very good racket as members of the coalition government with ZANU-PF. On one hand it allows them to pose as the opposition when it suits them, and to distance themselves from unpopular or failed initiatives of the joint government. On the other hand they are very happy and comfortable having access to the positions and perks of being part of the ruling authority. This may be the real reason the leaders of these parties want elections to be postponed as long as possible, rather than the best interests of Zimbabweans. 

''Ncube blasts Mugabe for Zim woes,'' a Newsday headline screams. “Those who get jobs earn peanuts. There is widespread poverty in the country. Even young children will tell you that it is Mugabe who has destroyed this once-vibrant economy.”

Leader of one of the alphabet soup of MDC parties, Welshman Ncube, is certainly right to say that many and perhaps most Zimbabweans blame their country's sorry, diminished state on 'Mugabe.' The kind of populist ranting he engaged in, which does absolutely nothing for his party members and followers, would have been understandable coming from an 'opposition' politician. But Ncube is a consummate insider in the government of Mugabe; his minister of Commerce and Industry! Astonishingly, the absolutely relevant issue of his holding a senior portfolio in the government of the Mugabe he attacks is not mentioned at all in the Newsday article.

'Mugabe' in the context Ncube uses here means his government, not just the person/individual who heads that government. As such, Ncube is very much also 'Mugabe,' in a way the poor, enthusiastic followers he politically exploits at the rally where he did his shameless grandstanding are not. Therefore, Ncube is now willingly and voluntarily part and parcel of 'destroying this once vibrant economy!' 

Ncube works his followers up with the easy, populist gambit of attacking Mugabe. After the rally, he then goes back to his main occupation of being a minister in that same Mugabe's government, all generous perks included and eagerly accepted! If only the poor followers who cheered him when he 'attacked Mugabe' could have just one percent of the material benefits of this type of duplicity.

 Another insider-outsider who is master at playing this double game is Tendai Biti, secretary general of the main MDC faction/party. Excitable Biti is even more scathing in how he characterizes the Mugabe regime. 
''This fascist regime,'' he apparently said of the Mugabe government to a U.S. ambassador, according to a diplomatic cable brought to light by Wikileaks. Comrade Biti is the minister of Finance in that 'fascist' regime!

Okay, okay, so maybe they are serving in the Mugabe administration out of  a sense of 'national duty,' rather than because they agree with the policies of its head? No doubt some version of this is how they defend their continuing tenure in the Mugabe regime, which is what it is, coalition government or not. Maybe they 'reluctantly' continue to serve so as to be watchdogs against 'Mugabe's excesses' on behalf of the rest of us?

One Zimbabwean thinks this excuse is increasingly nonsensical, especially given how fervently all these insider-outsiders want the 'coalition government' to go on as long as possible. If you want to frighten and offend these insider-outsiders, just say 'let's hold elections soon.' They will panic and turn on you so fast you will never know what hit you. 

Others who like to play this double game of trying to selectively distance themselves from a government they are very much an integral part of are prime minister in the Mugabe regime, Morgan Tsvangirai, and Mugabe's education minister, David Coltart. One minute they are fiery leaders of their respective factions, busily 'attacking Mugabe' with venom to the wild cheers of their unquestioning, un-skeptical followers. The next minute they proudly, sheepishly get into the luxury cars they have as a result of being Mugabe ministers and  to saying ''yes sah'' to him. It's a sweet racket; nice work if you can get it!  

Deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara's weak, party-less position means he must play this game a little differently, a little more quietly. Since being kicked out of leadership of the now Ncube-led MDC faction, he basically hangs on to his position and perks because of the indulgence of Mugabe. So whereas he may have once also been in a position to loudly play the populist anti-Mugabe card while remaining a part of the man's government, now Mutambara has had to tone down his Mugabe attacks. While all the various MDC top factional leaders who are also ministers sort of play a half outsider-half insider game in respect to the Mugabe government, Mutambara no longer has the leverage of a party position to be able to pull this stunt off. He is now closer to a traditional, old-fashioned Mugabe insider than he is to the new breed of clever, cynical MDC Mugabe-regime outsider-insiders. 

The 'national duty' reason of these dubious populists looks and sounds very doubtful when you see how in their behavior they increasingly resemble the old-style ZANU-PF ministers. Look at how Zimbabweans have been outraged at how for the umpteenth time, the Mugabe government has bought expensive vehicles for its senior members while claiming there is no money for much more basic public needs. None of the MDC outsider-insiders were willing to be openly quoted on this travesty. Yet usually they are eager to tell us how when the country gets to the golden Promised Land in which they will be fully in charge, we will not only enjoy full 'democracy and human rights,' they will also ensure that we have 'good governance and transparency.'

Did you see the masterful, ZANUPF-like ducking and diving that Mugabe's MDC finance minister Biti did on the issue of $20 million recently spent on luxury vehicle for senior regime members? On this issue the usually voluble defender of 'good governance and transparency,' the bold attacker of the the excesses of 'the fascist Mugabe regime' suddenly became shy and passed the buck of responsibility elsewhere in the regime! How could this be, minister of finance, a citizen wondered? Even if this was somehow done surreptitiously without your knowledge and approval, why don't you then at least 'transparently' explain that to the people? 

And all you MDC lamenters of 'Mugabe's destruction of the economy,' what do you have to say about this misplacement of priorities? Is it possible that it is decisions like this that you are now part of making and benefiting from that led to that destruction of a once vibrant economy that you are now helping to accelerate?

The coming together in 2008 of ZANU-PF and the MDC parties in a coalition government was a net positive for Zimbabwe. It brought the country back from the political and economic abyss. For that all the political parties must be commended. 

That coalition government is a Mugabe regime/administration/government because it is he who heads it. 

It is not so much the membership in the Mugabe government of the MDC leaders that is problematic, although to some people in all the parties that is an issue. The specific point of concern here is how MDC politicians like Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti and many others cynically want to have their cake and eat it too. The want to appear to still be radical members of the opposition supposedly fighting for 'democratic change' on behalf of 'the people,' but that is contradicted by how they increasingly look, (otherwise) talk and act just like the ZANU-PF politicians of old! 

If the Mugabe government is still 'destroying this once vibrant economy,' why are you still a part of it as minister of commerce and industry then? If this regime is 'fascist,' how do you continue to justify your being minister in charge of finance in it? 

MDC ministers, continue to serve in that government for whatever reason if you must, but don't then pretend to 'attack' it as if you are on the outside. You sound ridiculous and hypocritical when you try to play this double game, and the country in general looks absurd to be represented by party factions governing together who nevertheless publicly speak so disparagingly of each other. It makes the country look chaotically ruled and it makes you, the insiders pretending to be outsiders, particularly look silly.

You have all accepted to be Mugabe ministers. Deal with the contradictions and whatever shame/guilt you feel over that privately, but don't pretend to still be radical 'opposition' members on the outside of the governing structure. MDC ministers, you are now part of the Mugabe regime.

The Zimbabwe Review         


Post a Comment