Wednesday was a quite a day in Harare. MDC supremo, Morgan Tsvangirai, was, hilariously, sworn in as Zimbabwe’s prime minister.
Why did I think it amusing- because, unlike in any other swearing-in ceremony, he didn’t take the oath of office in the presence of the Chief Justice, as is done in most nations, but rather his own personal nemesis, Uncle Bob [Robert Mugabe).
While I was laughing at the spectacle [Tsvangirai was forced to read the oath, ad verbatim, by a visibly un-amused Mugabe because he had read a part of it wrongly, as had Obama], a colleague of mine brought up a subject that I found extremely interesting.
My colleague, while enjoying the sight of the newly sworn-in Prime Minister of Zimbabwe addressing thousands of cheering supporters, believed he, and the Movement for Democratic Change, had made a strategic error.
She believed that being a part of the Zanu-Pf state machinery, and being the junior party on top of that, would blunt the MDC goal of bringing real change to Zimbabwe.
“The Labour Minister is MDC…imagine if the trade unions strike because of poor working conditions…the unions will strike against their own (MDC)”. I could understand where she was coming from.
Here, was, and is, the Zimbabwe situation as I understand it. The head of state is a pariah; the national currency is literally not worth the paper it’s printed on; the agricultural sector is limping; the public sector is crumbling and to top it all off, the country is spreading cholera in the entire region.
In fact, the only good news that I’ve heard regarding Zimbabwe is the fact that its cricket team recently defeated Kenya in a series of ODI’s (One Day Internationals). So, what sucker for punishment would make the decision to take a part in this farce? The MDC has.
At first glance, it seems a curious choice. I mean, why would one even consider trying to govern such a broken country-more especially when you have to govern in tandem with the same people who ran the country into the ground?
It doesn’t look like a smart move. It’s far easier to stay on the outside looking in because, as everyone know, it’s far easier to sit on the sidelines and criticise the participants than to be an active player in the game.
I guess my thoughts on the subject are a tab bit too obvious but if you haven’t caught on, let me. I think that the MDC leadership has shown political maturity in this instance.
While it’s easier to throw the toys out of the pram and refuse to play ball until you get your way (as some within the MDC organisation must have wished), I think that the time of un-bending principles had long gone.
The cold, hard facts were thus; Robert Mugabe wasn’t going to ride peacefully off into the sunset, the country was going to the dogs and the international community was doing a lot of nothing.
If the UNITED people of Zimbabwe weren’t going to climb out of the hole they’d got themselves into, no one else was going to. It wasn’t time for partisan differences but rather a time for an ‘all hands on deck’ approach to the crisis.
‘Cutting of your nose to spite your face’ is never a smart move. While it might have been politically easier to watch the Zanu-Pf government floundered about and made itself more and more unpopular, I find it rather admirable that MDC bent over backwards and made this coalition.
In our own backyard, I remember the Arusha Peace Accords. While the MRND and RPF weren’t the best of friends, they went out of their comfort zones to attempt to make a viable government that would represent all Rwandans.
While things might have not gone to plan, the deal was the blueprint for the post-1994 government. Kenya’s grand coalition is doing surprisingly well despite a few hiccups here and there.
As Otto Von Bismarck once said, “politics is the art of the possible”.
MDC and Zanu-Pf have to make this coalition possible-too much rides on a good outcome; failure is not an option.