In defense of the coalition project: A response to Farai Maguwu & misguided others

By Whitlaw Mugwiji

Benjamin Franklin aptly put it when he said any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools actually do. No sooner had the ink dried on the signed memorandum of understanding between Mujuru and Tsvangirai’s parties did these fools come out in droves, complaining, criticizing and condemning.

Surely, it beats me, how can a person who seriously wants to see change in the country complain about the opposition coming together? Is it not basic logic that united we stand and divided we fall, more so at this juncture when Zanu PF seems to be at war with itself?

Let you be warned dear reader, I take no prisoners as I defend our opposition leaders and the coalition to be. I could not sit idly when opposition leaders are being vilified left, right and centre, when I together with many others have been calling for the opposition to unite. They cannot be insulted for listening to our voices, the people’s cries, cries for them to unite and fight the battle for a better Zimbabwe from a single front.

It is not personal but it is a no hold barred response to an article penned by Farai Maguwu titled Mujuru Tsvangirai coalition a problematic exercise in futile gains. I have chosen to respond to this article simply because it captures many of the sentiments expressed by various people on various social media platforms.

Hiding behind pseudo reasoning.

Farai Maguwu says he would have been a bit sympathetic if the opposition had formed an alliance to mobilize Zimbabweans for mass demonstrations, saying no to elections before genuine electoral reforms. This remark would tempt you to think that he is a keen participant in these demonstrations. But no, he has not been seen, not even once at any of the opposition’s recent demonstrations.

That being said let me indulge him, in his own line of thinking. He seems to imply that when the opposition is united it cannot call for electoral reforms. I find this quite illogical. Have they not been calling for electoral reforms under the banner of NERA? Have they not organised demonstrations under the banner of NERA? This is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order, he wants to make it appear as if the opposition cannot unite and call for electoral reforms as if these two actions are mutually exclusive. They are not, it’s not either or. The opposition must unite and call for electoral reforms.

He then had the audacity to suggest that the opposition’s actions seem to be driven by financial gain. I must remind Farai Maguwu that it is a dangerous habit to throw stones, more so when one lives in a glass house. We have seen this so many times, people speaking passionately, condemning weaves, breast implants and of late buttock implants when they themselves are wearing false teeth. Last time I checked, he was running a donor funded organisation which runs the risk of becoming irrelevant if the ZANU PF regime is removed from power. We therefore must ask, is he speaking out of national interest or from his personal financial interests. Come what may, united or divided, the opposition will require finances to campaign and mobilise in 2018. Why does he make it sound sinister for the opposition to organise itself and in the process, gain financial resources?

He poses an intellectually mischievous statement when he accuses Morgan Tsvangirai of selling out the people’s struggle and betraying thousands of his supporters who suffered many things at the hands of ZANU PF. This is so because there are a number of people in the opposition who share these very sentiments. No wonder why Tsvangirai had to seek audience with the party membership across the country in regards to this matter. The very people who were victimised and harangued by ZANU PF gave him the go ahead, hence this is a non issue.

People must be reminded a coalition does not absolve anyone of any of their past crimes. Thus a coalition is simply a realisation that in order to remove Zanu PF from power we must work together, we must be pragmatic than and not be too idealistic for nothing. In my opinion the opposition had two choices, stay divided and let Zanu PF rule until donkeys grow horns or unite everyone in the opposition and give ourselves a fighting chance in 2018 elections. I am happy they chose the better of the two options.

The Coalition is not an end unto itself.

Many people mistakenly assume that a coalition is an end unto itself. Let me categorically state it here and now, a coalition will not solve all the opposition’s problems but it will go a long way in the awakening and revitalising of the fatigued masses. It is only but a first step in the right direction. Have we not learned anything from coalitions that have managed to overthrow authoritarian regimes in Kenya and in the Gambia?

I have to give it to him here, he poses a very legitimate question; how do we counter Zanu PF coercion, intimidation and violence in the rural areas? However he himself does not even attempt to answer this profound question. This behaviour clearly highlights a phenomenon adequately captured by Tendai Biti when he said, Zimbabweans have a problem of outsourcing the struggle for a better Zimbabwe to the opposition. Farai Maguwu, it is not the responsibility of Tsvangirai, Mujuru, Ncube, Biti, Dabengwa, Makoni or Mangoma alone to answer this difficult question but our collective responsibility as citizens who want to see a better Zimbabwe. There must be no bystanders or spectators in this struggle, you and me must play our part, educating our relatives in the rural areas on the secrecy of the ballot, this is one way of countering the coercion, intimidation and violence.

I however concede that this is a very pertinent question that needs a proper answer in its own right, I therefore promise to devote the next article in answering this question.    

You cannot please everyone all the time.

In closing let me share with you Aesop the famous Greek slave whose fable clearly illustrates the position our leaders in the opposition find themselves in.  

Once upon a time an elderly man was travelling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind. The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal’s back. When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal’s back and continued on his way.

In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So the man climbed on and they set off again. In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people.

The moral of the story is you cannot please all of the people, all of the time. This is precisely my message to our opposition leaders, no matter what you do, some Zimbabwean somewhere will be unhappy. Carry on never the less, so long as your intentions are pure and you have the interest of Zimbabwe and its suffering masses at heart.

United we stand, divided we fall!

  • Whitlaw Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji is a political analyst based in Belgium.