In principle and indeed in practice, I tend to agree with Elton Mangoma’s call for leadership change and in particular his call for Tsvangirai to stand down as the leader of the MDC-T. If the MDC-T is serious about wanting to change Zimbabwe’s politics, it has to look at changing itself first. Undemocratic internal party laws must not be used to unfairly protect the structures of authority, hierarchy and dominion within the MDC-T; no party position should be beyond challenge; no position holder should be unduly protected from challenge.
Clever people make an attempt at changing the world while the wise change themselves. The Zimbabwean political circus as experienced today is a process of local people’s thinking and actions; the dictatorship is people’s creation. Zimbabweans have created gods and kings out of their political leaders; people want democracy yet they remain covered in some monarchist veil in which leaders are untouchables only moved by nature and not by human mechanisation. People hero worship political leaders; they have too much respect for hierarchy thus fail to see beyond the person holding a post.
When a political institution becomes subservient to an individual, public influence and authority diminish and democracy is soon lost. The MDC-T needs to look right inside itself for solutions to its problems and decide how Tsvangirai can be a part of the solution. The party is effectively in the process of creating a dictatorship within its ranks thereby compromising the dream of democracy in the country.
Zimbabweans have developed an unbelievably high threshold of tolerance that has allowed dictatorships to dig in their heels before our eyes. Tsvangirai has failed as the leader of the opposition, he needs to go and it does not matter where the call is coming from for as long as the individual or group is Zimbabwean. Waiting for time to change Zimbabwean circumstances is avoidant behaviour, people and not time change things. The call for Tsvangirai’s resignation is the right call at the right time and the right person has made it. Mangoma, like any other Zimbabwean has acted well within his rights but has to date been let down not by reason but by individuals who have spent their political lives serving Tsvangirai instead of the electorate.
The country has waited for three decades for the opportunity to change political circumstances in the post-colonial Zimbabwe but nothing has happened; now is the right time to build a door. Mangoma has started that process. He should be praised for his bravery and not vilified by MDC-T supporters who subscribe to democracy. Many MDC-T supporters have not dared wade into the leadership debate not out of faith of the current leadership but because they have been conditioned to a life of security, conformity and conservatism.
The thought of taking a new step frightens many within the MDC-T hence they will rather keep Tsvangirai as leader though privately they may not genuinely share the belief that he remains the right person to lead the party to the next level. The voting trends in the last election (31/7/13), in particular in rural Matabeleland, appear to suggest a new approach and a new leader maybe what the MDC-T requires now.
The MDC-T project is clearly failing; it is important that members identify and root out internal laws and practices that inhibit the modernisation of the organisation. Any review of the party’s performance must centre around Tsvangirai the executive leader; he is responsible for the failures as much as he has taken accolades for successes in the past. Mangoma’s call for leadership change is the right move for the credibility and future of the party. Regular and genuine leadership renewal will set MDC-T apart from ZANU PF.