The highly effective slogan that lost its impetus

There has never been a political party that brought hope in Zimbabwe better than the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). When what you get is not what you wanted, then what you get is experience. There is no reason to despair, as long as today is still available for the hope of tomorrow. It is therefore, important to analyze causes of failure, before picking up the pieces to rekindle the lost hope. The forty-year strings of catastrophes make ZANU PF irrelevant in Zimbabwe. It boggles the mind that many people continue to put blame on it, for the prevailing social and economic decay.

MDC was formed in 1999, with a highly effective slogan, “Chinja maitiro.” Loosely translated, this means “Change the way of doing things.” I cannot think of anything as highly effective as this slogan. It is in the public domain that in 2002 the MDC lost elections through rigging. If there really was some meaning into the slogan, signifying changing the way of doing things, where was the problem? Does that slogan remain with the verve that it had during those formative years?

What makes it even more disappointing is that in its ranks, MDC has the country’s best legal minds. It may have not even been necessary to engage the public to draw up the new Constitution. If the slogan Chinja maitiro carried some meaning, the new party could have just drawn their alternative constitution as their campaigning tool. Perhaps, those legal experts could have just crafted the alternative constitution that could have been used as a manifesto. Some voices could state that this could not have been possible considering the expense involved, needing funding from government. Really? If the answer is yes, then there would be no significance in the slogan “Chinja maitiro.”

You cannot talk of change, and yet continue with the love of the present condition or vice versa. That is if logic is to be taken as a virtue of reality on matters of life. In other words, one cannot talk about loving what he does not love. David Coltart made it quite interesting, in his book, when stating that in 2013, the most logical thing was to avoid participating in a flawed election. However, both MDCs became suspicious of each other, fearing losing out, in the event that the other group participated.

Both MDCs had no idea of what changing things entailed, except, seemingly, desiring the access to the lucrative gains in parliamentary seats. ZANU PF had cleverly crafted political finances Act, designed to keep the MDC parties in the loop. In other words, the MDC parties were attracted more with fielding parliamentary candidates, so as to access funding from a corrupt government system. Meanwhile, this subtle compromise eroded the significance of the slogan Chinja maitiro.

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Though faithfully maintaining the slogan, nothing has changed in the MDC party. They may shout to high heavens that ZANU PF is corrupt. So what? Whatever it is that motivated MDC to come up with the slogan Chinja maitiro, has not been applied. I like Professor Jonathan Moyo’s contribution: Any brilliant idea is useless, as long as not followed up with effective action.

The indicators are clearly manifesting in MDC losses on by-elections held so far. The same old story continues to be repeated. ZANU PF unfairly uses donor-funded food packages to bribe voters, in clear violation of the constitution. But so what? That has always been the ZANU PF way of doing things. Where is the alternative? ED aptly puts it, “Mucharamba muchingovukura, isu tichingo tonga!”

Another disease dogging the MDC party is its inability to apply effective communication within its ranks. The best legal minds are so disjointed, possibly, each seeking to take credit. With all the ingredients of producing a cake, that reality remains farfetched, unless the dough is skillfully kneaded for a delicious cake. For the same reason of desiring morsels derived from the corrupt system, the MDC dumped Professor Maduku, in favor of ZANU Pf during the constitution-making exercise. This is not to say Madhuku’s proposals were the best, necessarily. But was he not an ally, in the fight for democracy? Who can deny that we remain with a compromised constitution, even with millions having been spent on that exercise?

What could it have been that the MDC found to be acceptable with ZANU PF? Notwithstanding the barbaric violence in election-handling, MDC continued to assume that dining with ZANU PF was most reasonable? It seems their maimed cadres and those who perished in the struggle, do not matter much? What does it take to pursue the agenda of transforming the political landscape, using the Chinja maitiro Slogan? My only fear is that we might be dealing with a pseudo opposition party, seeking to attain the reins of power in order to perpetuate what prevails.

What I am saying, here, could be what goes on in the minds of many voters, continuing to vote for ZANU PF, even without anything to show. Of Course, people are forced to vote for ZANU PF, or else they lose their lives. In the last twenty years, many have lost relatives and properties supporting what now appears as a directionless opposition party. It seems it now making sense for them to compromise their dignity, instead of starving to death? I would probably do the same if I were in their shoes.

We have to ask the question, why a new slogan Chamisa chete, chete, seems to have gained momentum, ahead of Chinja Maitiro. There is no secret in that the majority of MDC supporters are behind Advocate Nelson Chamisa. But Chamisa is not a god. Like any fallible humans, he can succumb to death at any time. So what happens, after Chamisa’s demise? It takes a vision to consider all those factors.

The idea of changing the way of doing things includes coming out of a cultish mentality. In other words, there is no hope for Zimbabwe, as long as people fail to believe in themselves, but in other fellow humans. I have always told others that Zimbabwe lost their independence in 1980 when Mugabe was hero-worshiped as the new prime minister. The celebration of independence is taken for a religious cult. Most people do not even know what they would be celebrating, after all.

Of course, most of the rural populace suppose independence implies celebrating the donor-funded handouts coming from ZANU PF government. The rest celebrate independence out of black inferiority complex. Such people feel good, only because the person in power is black. The assumption being that the whites are bad because of their skin color. Who can salvage people out of such kind of stupidity?

The slogan “Chinja Maitiro” ought to have addressed that confusion. While most people say we got our independence in 1980, the opposite is true. There may have been no independence during Ian Smith, but neither was there any independence, during Robert Mugabe. There is still no independence during ED Mnangagwa. Anyone is allowed to argue against that assertion, but truth disabuses the wise.

The meaning of independence empowers an individual to make decisions, according to his own intellect. True independence equips people to choose how they are to be governed. This brings in the aspect of democracy so that the majority’s viewpoint is what goes. There is no need for violence, except when agreeing with ZANU PF violent philosophy.  It seems the party, whose slogan is Chinja maitiro, also treats anyone who disagrees with the majority to be an enemy?

Let us examine the Mwonzora and Komichi saga. We have been told that they have been expelled from MDCA. Their crime being that they disagree with the majority on the interpretation of the recent Supreme Court judgment. How different is this kind of accusation from what has sustained ZANU PF? Why are those two gentlemen treated as sellouts, when merely demonstrating their independent opinion? There is no need to even comment negatively about the Supreme Court judgment.

What MDCA could have done was to allow the two gentlemen to pursue their program. But not to necessarily agree with them. That happens to be the meaning of democracy. Disagreeing with them does not, necessarily, mean arguing or fighting against them. It simply means listening to what they would say and stating the reason for rejecting whatever would be said.

There could not have been anything wrong with even voting for Ian Smith in 1980 if people understood the meaning of independence. The only unacceptable, although freedom allows it, are those people choosing to do nothing. It is criminal, to choose to do nothing in a democracy. But independence allows you not to do anything, though bestowing responsibility for survival on your shoulders. When advancing a theory that everyone should avoid doing anything, like you, what kind of a country would that be? Do you honestly say you would be safe living under those conditions?

I, personally, commend Mwonzora and Komichi for boldly standing up to assert their viewpoints in public. They may have followers within the MDCA party. It is a question of such people being allowed to also feature, for democracy to thrive. The court judgment may be skewed and in favor of ZANU PF. But that should not affect MDC democratic principles. Choosing to collectively boycott or not to boycott what comes from the apparent politicized courts is a matter to be decided democratically.

If the majority agree with the Mwonzora faction is there anything wrong there? I suppose nothing, as there is also nothing wrong if the majority agree with the other viewpoints? That is the meaning of democracy. The idea of thinking in terms of personal benefits at the expense of the opponents is not democratic, and should not be allowed to be the guiding factor. If allowed, MDCA should not hoodwink its voters that they are an alternative to ZANU PF. Of cause, Mwonzora and Komichi need to be engaged with, for them to be convinced that the Supreme Court judgment is moot. This is just as Komichi was not even the MDC chairman in the year 2014.

The same applies to the viewpoint of Madam Khuphe. Of course, she appears as having adulterated herself with ZANU PF, but, she should still be treated as one of the founders of MDC. What is wrong with allowing her to come forward and state her position, as far as the recommendations of the Supreme Court judgment are concerned? Disagreeing with her does not mean that she should be treated as an enemy, necessarily. What is not acceptable in ZANU PF should not, necessarily, be what governs the MDCA as well. Otherwise, the ‘Chinja maitiro slogan is just a façade.

As long as the citizens of this country anticipate deliverance from somewhere, this country is doomed. It is, particularly, the younger generation who are to carry the seemingly unending burden. Independence means self-determination, applicable to each and every one of us. What is acceptable to me might not be acceptable to another person. At the end, we all have to be directed by the wishes of the majority, not the other way round. Those are the ideal principles of democracy, for which the heroes of our liberation struggle desired to see.

Such principles seek to give each person some opportunity to decide on what is best for the country, directed by personal survival needs. This is different from someone who decides on the basis of receiving donor-funded food aids. Democracy empowers a person to be the decision-maker rather than the effect of what is decided by others. Democracy ought to be above everything else, including the judiciary, as judges should be guided by the wishes of the majority.

Having said all this; what is the way forward? I have some respect for the current leader of the MDCA. Although this is limited to my consideration of him having not said anything yet, about the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment. He might, as well, say something that would disappoint me. But he has done well so far, living the ball to remain in Madam Khuphe’s court, as given the power to lead the combined MDC party. Where is she going to throw the ball at? That is where Chamisa should be able to pick it up from there.

The guiding principle of the MDC needs to be rebranded from its original slogan; “Chinja maitiro, Maitiro chinja! This should be taken as a matter of principle, without copying what is done in ZANU PF. It calls for MDC leaders to understand this principle, ahead of the common membership at the grassroots level. It must be noted that the general laity is grooved in the philosophy of the murderous mentality of ZANU PF. The present time is available for leaders to change tomorrow to become better.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

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