Biti could spell trouble

Mr Biti
Mr Biti

AS we revealed way back in 2010, Tendai Biti’s Project 2016 to remove Tsvangirai from the helm of the MDC-T is now in full swing.Zimbabweans are watching it all wondering what has hit this supposed party of excellence while Zanu-PF must be enjoying the dog-eat-dog fight in the MDC-T.

Is the MDC-T crumbling? From the opposition movement we already have led by Tsvangirai, what kind of opposition are we going to have from the circus that’s taking place in the different MDC formations? How will the fight in the MDC-T shape opposition politics going forward?

The coming onto the political scene of the MDC in 1999, never mind the issues surrounding its British parentage, was a welcome development to the country’s politics. Many people will agree that to some extent Zanu-PF, after so many years without facing any formidable opposition, was beginning to take people for granted. It’s not a secret that the MDC played a significant role in forcing Zanu-PF to transform.

Remember the unfortunate days when the word “mafikizolo” dominated Zanu-PF politics as those who claimed to own the party sought to block the so-called Young Turks? Remember those days when Zanu-PF appeared as the party for the elderly and as a political club reserved for those who fought during the liberation struggle?

Consider the developments in the MDC-T — Tsvangirai is like an old car that is fast running out of fuel. He has on three occasions failed to remove President Mugabe from power despite the protest vote against Zanu-PF in 2002, the 2008 elections where he was heavily funded by outside donors and the 2013 disaster where he was trounced by the then 89-year-old President Mugabe.

Since that catastrophic defeat on July 31, Tsvangirai has failed to keep the centre holding in the MDC-T and problems at the home front where wife Elizabeth a few months ago, threw a bit of some dirty bedroom linen in the public really compounded his downfall.

As if these problems were not enough for poor Morgan, the donors have abandoned him and the party is now living from hand to mouth.

Despite it all, Tsvangirai still commands lots of support in the MDC-T, especially at the grassroots level and there are some supporters who are saying they are prepared to follow their leader to his political grave. Whether these die-hard supporters are really prepared to follow a bankrupt Tsvangirai to his financial grave is a matter that time will tell if Biti gets the money we hear he has been promised. Dollars can be persuasive.

Enter Biti – he played it safe by first throwing poor Mangoma onto the firing line to test the waters. He finally came out in the open at Mandel Training Centre to announce that the party had suspended Tsvangirai.

It’s important to dispel one misconception here – there are some who are saying Biti has replicated a Simba Makoni move. A bit of background here would be useful. Makoni committed political suicide when he was fooled by some in Zanu-PF to form his own Mavambo party. After forming his party, Makoni anxiously waited for those in Zanu-PF who had promised that they would join him at a later stage. Up to now Makoni is still waiting and wondering in the wilderness.

Now, some are saying Biti has fallen into the same trap as Makoni. That’s not the case at all. Biti was calculating and, unlike Makoni, the MDC-T secretary-general has the loaded donors on his side. Biti may not have the supporters on the ground at the moment, but he has the money that he will certainly use to win the much-needed support. Again, dollars can be persuasive.

However, Biti’s greatest undoing in politics is his arrogance that is laced with misplaced legal bravado.
Records show that it was Biti and Professor Welshman Ncube who crafted the illegal sanctions that have caused untold suffering to the majority of Zimbabweans. On the other hand, Biti’s tenure as Finance Minister during the inclusive Government clearly proved that he is a man of high-sounding words with no substance.

But what really makes Biti a dangerous cancer in the country’s politics is his penchant for outside mediation. Speaking at his poorly attended meeting in Mutare last week, NewsDay reported that Biti had said Zimbabwe should be put under the curatorship of Sadc “because the current Government would not be able to break the current political and economic crisis.” If this is a signal of what is to come with a Biti-led opposition movement in Zimbabwe, then the country has to brace itself for serious troubles.

Biti wants to put Zimbabwe on the agenda of Sadc and there are two worrying issues that quickly pop up. First, what is Biti prepared to do so that Zimbabwe becomes a regional issue? How dirty can Biti play the game to attract the attention of Sadc and even the African Union?

Secondly, if by some means Biti manages to make Zimbabwe a Sadc issue, how would this play out given that Zimbabwe is set to host the Sadc Summit with President Mugabe taking over the chairmanship of the regional bloc? In addition, President Mugabe is the first deputy chair of the AU executive council and is also set to assume the AU chairmanship.

For a desperate Biti, all these regional and continental posts represent a fertile ground for political mischief because they make it easy for him to draw attention to Zimbabwe.

Now put all these factors together and add the fact that the original funders of the MDC, the British and Americans are behind Biti – the resultant cocktail is cause for concern.

There is even more bad news – the Biti project may look like a doomed experiment at the moment because it’s still in its formative stages and the grassroots supporters are still sympathetic to Tsvangirai.

However, when the funds start flowing from the donors, this will present several opportunities for political opportunists like Makoni, desperate politicians like Professor Welshman Ncube, the out-of-sorts Dumiso Dabengwa, the forgotten Professor Mutambara and even the cunning fox Professor Lovemore Madhuku.

The Biti project can easily turn out to be like a jumbo jet loaded with explosives that is about to crash land in Zimbabwe.

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