The sense of incredulity, anger and frustration at Qhubani Moyo’s (former MDC Director of Policy and Research Co-ordination) defection to ZANU PF is evident on the Matabeleland local media, including online social networks. As Matabeleland citizens and friends we may not agree with Moyo’s recent political choices and everything he has had to say in defence of those choices but we owe it to our democratic aspirations to respect his right to make those choices, perplexing and stupid as they may appear!
We cannot be hypocritical as to pursue an agenda of denying individuals their right to choose yet claiming to care about minority rights for there is no minority smaller than an individual. What Matabeleland needs to ask herself is how Moyo and others before him have been able to make their way to the top echelons of Matabeleland’s political space.
Apathy has become Matabeleland’s greatest political handicap. The entrenched indifference to Zimbabwean institutions and political participation can be linked to the loss of political influence by the ordinary men and women of Matabeleland. By not participating in local politics Matabeleland citizens surrender the opportunity to shape the political space to opportunistic scholars, wealthy opportunists, the greedy and incompetent career politicians. People need to understand two things: (i) that the power that politicians exert over citizens is actually drawn from the people not politicians, and (ii) that power surrendered to greedy politicians is almost always impossible to reclaim. People will need to increase their political participation to reclaim the region from politicians.
While Moyo has the right to change his political opinions and allegiance at any point of his life, he must be honest about the reasons for his change of heart. In accusing people of Matabeleland of having voted with their hearts and not their brains, Moyo is not only condescending but shows off his own brains that have been trod upon by ZANU PF’s dirty feet. His democratic credentials are called to question; his own stupidity is exposed. No one, including Moyo, has an exclusive right to stupidity; Moyo must understand that the electorate, like all consenting adults, has the right to make stupid decisions just like him. Fortunately for him in politics stupidity is not a handicap which is perhaps the reason ZANU PF has wilfully taken him.
The role of great leaders is taking people where they ought to be, that is what Moyo and his colleagues should be working at instead of taking the easy options. Moyo’s political responsibilities during his time at the MDC were to broaden the parameters of people’s imagined world and inspire his constituency to be what it knows it could be; he and his colleagues failed in that role. This is a man who headed the Information and Research Co-ordination portfolio in the MDC yet he does not appear to have the faintest of ideas why the party failed to retain a single seat in the 31/7 election. Instead he admonishes the electorate for their choices rather than look at his role in the poor performance of his former party. It is tragic that a man considered one of the brightest brains in our society would claim that a partnership of the two MDCs would have been beneficial for the MDC; the argument lacks objectivity.
Moyo has not presented a convincing case for his decision to join ZANU PF. The argument that the country is safe in ZANU PF’s hands is a wilful evasion of knowledge and reality; his Matabeleland constituency has yet to secure universal benefits of the decolonised Zimbabwe. As a potential Matabeleland legislature, choosing to associate with an unchanged and unrepentant political institution that presided over a brutal ethnic wipe-out in Matabeleland and a party that continues to suppress and undermine the socio-economic institutions in the region is an unforgiveable breach of morality.
Mahatma Gandhi rejects ‘politics without principle’ but Moyo thinks otherwise when arguing that Welshman Ncube needs to be flexible or risk ‘…being too principled in an environment that requires high flexibility’. It would appear that according to Moyo’s political doctrine being ‘politically unprincipled’ is acceptable flexibility yet unprincipled politics has not brought the ordinary men and women any enduring benefits.
Political apathy is the major reason why Moyo found himself at the core of politics in the region. Only an increased political participation will wrestle politics from opportunistic academics, the elite and greedy opportunists and back to the ordinary man and woman. We need to attract young people into politics. Above all, individual rights to choose must never be compromised. Moyo has a right to change political opinions and the freedom to express his views; that has to be respected although in this case he has left his bottom barely covered.