The Sunday Mail
Blessed are those who will intently read Bishop Lazi’s sermon today and take it to heart for they will be able to see the future.
You see, politics is not a beauty pageant: You cannot just catwalk on a ramp to impress ogling judges to win.
The stakes are far too high, for it is about life and death.
It defines existential questions of any given epoch.
It is also a cauldron containing people’s hopes, dreams and aspirations from which they expect favourable outcomes either for themselves or for posterity.
Ideas and world views — which are essentially the building blocks of ideologies — became the vehicles that carry these hopes, dreams and aspirations.
So, the emotive business of politics is necessarily beastly business, but not in the strictest sense because it is more of exercising both brain and brawn, rather than brawn only.
But, this is how the exercise of political power becomes delicate.
How can politicians remain temperate, patient and unflappable when dealing with inherently emotive issues?
The secret lies in understanding what a politician is.
In Bishop Lazi’s view, a politician is an ideologue who drives the ideas and worldviews that are supposed to be the vehicles carrying people’s aspirations.
One cannot arbitrarily waver from ideas and views in which people have invested their aspirations.
Jesus Christ was a carrier of a profound idea for which he died for, but it still lives today, carried by the likes of the Bishop.
Besides Christ, there were countless earthly creatures — Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso), Patrice Lumumba (DRC), Steve Biko (South Africa) and many more on the continent — who were prepared to die for the ideals they believed in.
Bishop Lazarus was reflecting on this following the recent leadership imbroglio in the MDC.
Turmoil is, however, not uncommon in the opposition political formation.
In fact, they actually seem to have patented it.
There have been ructions before, particularly in 2005 when differences climaxed over participation in Senate elections, which resulted in the initial breakaway on June 3 of a splinter group (MDC-Renewal Team) led by Elton Mangoma.
Five months later, in November, the MDC further splint asunder when then-secretary-general Welshman Ncube formed another MDC, which prompted Tsvangirai’s faction to mutate into MDC-T. Kikiki.
Ironically, Biti — thought to be the brains behind Mangoma’s party — stayed put and replaced Ncube as secretary-general.
But, the divisions in the main faction continued to fester.
Not surprisingly, on May 11, 2010, the voluble Job Sikhala broke ranks and formed his own MDC-99.
As we all know, this was not the end of the story.
Matters, however, came to a head in 2015 when Biti acrimoniously fell out with Tsvangirai after he unsuccessfully tried to supplant him.
He subsequently joined his spiritual home, the MDC-Renewal Team.
As was widely expected by many, before long all hell broke loose in that small and fledgling party, which led the pathologically caustic and abrasive Biti to form his own party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which had its inaugural congress on September 11 in the same year (2015).
Again, this is not the end of the story. Kikikiki.
On September 28, 2017, the PDP also split after Biti was expelled by its secretary-general Gorden Moyo.
Dear reader, it is perfectly understandable if you cannot keep up, as I have told you before, turmoil seems to have been invented in the MDC and its various factional iterations.
Even our forefathers who gave the imagery of Tizirai’s jersey (Juzi raTizirai rekuti uku ririkurukwa ukuririkudundunuka), which unravels just as it is being stitched up, couldn’t have envisaged this scenario.
But, it is the latest leadership contest in the MDC — which for the first time invited a definitive determination from the country’s Supreme Court on May 31 — that is not only damagingly fractious to the party, but could have far-reaching implications on its standing as a putative future ruling party.
Clearly, the court ruling is as damaging as it is embarrassing.
We learn that Nelson Chamisa — who used Tsvangirai’s corpse, barely 24 hours after his demise, as a springboard to grab political power in the MDC — at first tried to support his “patently unconstitutional” elevation to vice presidency in the party in 2016 by riding on the coattails of typographical errors in the MDC’s constitution. Kikikiki.
We also learn that while Chamisa tried to misrepresent that the February 15, 2018 national council (NC) meeting — occurring hours after Tsvangirai’s death — was independently convened by the party’s national council (NC), its highest decision-making organ between congresses, to settle the leadership vacuum in the MDC, the minutes presented before the court show that he actually chaired it as ‘acting president’ and subsequently presented a speech as ‘acting president’.
And yet by operation of the MDC’s constitution, the moment Tsvangirai breathed his last, article 9.21.1 should have come into operation, meaning Dr Thokozani Khupe, who was elected during the formation’s elective congress in November 2014, should have assumed the reins. Thankfully, all these absurdities were outed by the Supreme Court.
We can also not forget the grotesque and gratuitous violence that visited Khupe, especially in 2018, as the Chamisa faction tried to subdue her by any means possible.
Bishop Lazi could care less who leads or doesn’t lead the MDC, but what is fundamental are the principles, ideals and values that are espoused by these political creatures vying to lead us.
As the Supreme Court ruling observes, “article 3 of the party’s constitution enshrines its status as ‘social democratic party whose core values shall be solidarity, justice, equality, liberty, freedom, transparency, humble and obedient leadership and accountability’. These core values of the party, if they are not to be reduced to be merely hollow rhetoric necessarily implicate the principles of good governance and adherence to the leadership requirements embodied in the constitution.”
So, the fundamental question is: If the MDC can nonchalantly trash these sacrosanct values, which are key tenets to governance and the rule of law, even in their own party, how can they be entrusted with State power?
Clearly, all these shenanigans in the MDC camp betray an unbridled and vaulting ambition, greed and, most fatally, a poverty in ideology.
Proverbs 15: 27 says “The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live”, while Proverbs 28:25 adds: “The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.”
And greed only takes over where ideology doesn’t exist.
A non-existent struggle
It would be unfair to say conflict hasn’t existed in Zanu-PF — it has.
But, however robust the debates and marked the differences might be, the comrades are always brought together by an ideal that supersedes personal, parochial views.
This singular ideal binds them together like a glue.
It furthers guides the party from going astray.
Conversely, it is incredibly difficult to make out what the MDC really stands for.
At its inception, it was made up of curious bedfellows — capitalists, socialists, opportunists and a host of other “ists”.
It was, thus, similar to a political Minotaur — a monster with the head of a man and body and tail of a bull, and it still is.
Its main constituency remains the ‘protest vote’, which seems to be temporarily growing because of the current youthful demographics in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As what Kenyan scholar and author Ngugi wa Thiongo correctly diagnosed in his work “Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature”, most Africans have been damaged by a colonial education system that has progressively made them radarless, clueless and directionless.
The system, he said, “annihilates a people’s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland. It makes them want to identify with that which is furthest removed from themselves.”
This is worse in the youthful millennials.
They are not rooted in any ideology or worldview, except that which is projected by the West. As a consequence, they cannot see, as John Pilger observes in his powerful work “The New Rulers of the World”, that in Western societies, competition for political power is mostly “between indistinguishable parties for the management of a single-ideology state”.
But, as the MDC rows, Zanu-PF rules.
It knows full well that diluting the protest vote will involve improving the material well-being of the people, and this is on course.
Dislodging an ideologically grounded party such as Zanu-PF isn’t that easy.
The Bishop always tells folks that Zanu-PF is like Nanny McPhee from that 2005 British-American comedy fantasy film: When you need it, but do not want it, then it will stay; and when you want it, but no longer need it, then it must go. Kikiki.