Biti should not try to play the good boy


Zimbabwe- I differ with Mduduzi Mathuthu’s views expressed in a December 8, 2012 article titled “MDC-T eyes electoral pact to unseat Mugabe,”which was published on the New website.

Mduduzi talks about the need for the two MDC formations to unite in order to defeat Zanu-PF in the forthcoming elections scheduled for next year. I must stress that there is nothing wrong with calling for unity. However, what I do find offensive is MDC-T Secretary General, Tendai Biti’s attempt to cleanse his own image, while redirecting the blame to the party, and by implication MDC-T President, Morgan Tsvangirai.

“For me personally, I did my best to see the reunification of the two MDCs and I was really shattered when our talks broke down on February 2, 2008,” Biti told New

What Biti does not tell New is that Welshman Ncube demanded a deal in which his party could be given all the seats in Matabeleland, including two seats in Harare for his Secretary General, Priscilla Misihairabwi and Professor Arthur Mutambara.

Biti did not tell New that the decision to go it alone was taken by the MDC-T party as a collective – a democratic choice. Most cadres were and are of the opinion that avoiding Welshman is just as good as avoiding Zanu-PF. Most MDC-T members do not want to be infiltrated by a group of people, who during turbulent times were clearly favoured by Thabo Mbeki and Robert Mugabe.

In fact, one could ask a few questions. If an electoral pact is established and elections won, what guarantee do MDC-T members have that Welshman will not use new found power against Tsvangirai and the MDC-T?

What guarantees exist that Tsvangirai will not be side-lined after the election for a pact with some other politician such as Emmerson Mnangagwa and other Zanu-PF heavyweights who were implicated in Gukurahundi?

To underscore this point, I want to talk a little about what happened before the split on October 12, 2005. I was privy to MDC security arrangements made by the late Gibson Sibanda to meet Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai and the national security team in Harare were not aware that the party’s Vice President was on a mission to meet Mugabe. I informed then MDC National Executive Member responsible for Bulawayo Province, Gertrude Mthombeni about theintended meeting and shein turn passed on the information to Tsvangirai.

Sadly those were the days when Tsvangirai would hear no criticism of Sibanda. He absolutely trusted Sibanda and as I got to hear from security sources,
Gertrude’s information was taken with a “shovel” of salt. However, about three weeks later and much to my relief, a group photo showing among other people Sibanda, Gonese and Mugabe at State House was published on the front page of
The Herald. This proved my case beyond reasonable doubt.

How could Sibanda be visiting Mugabe at a time when the MDC was contesting Mugabe’s legitimacy? During that period, MDC was staging walk-outs on Mugabe each time he entered Parliament. In an effort to humiliate and to expose that Gushungo was not popularly elected, MDC MPs would not even listen to Mugabe talk. Such demonstrations humiliated Mugabe so much that the 89 year old ruler sent a security team to try and sweet-talk the MDC into abandoning its protests. And to show that the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) was well advised about internal MDC politics, Mugabe was later quoted in The Herald saying that he is aware that Tsvangirai and others were not happy with Sibanda’s unsanctioned visit to State House.

In his book, “At the Deep End,” Tsvangirai says of Sibanda’s secret visit to Mugabe, “Soon afterwards I received telephone calls from concerned party officials worried about a photograph of Sibanda and Innocent Gonese, our Parliamentary Chief Whip, on the front page of The Herald, both wearing smiles and having tea at State House.”

Some years later, thanks to WikiLeaks, I was to read that former MDC Spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, also allegedly planned to visit State House without the knowledge of Tsvangirai and other senior party leaders. According to the WikiLeaks report, Nyathi allegedly acting in concert with Mugabe, through Emmerson Mnangagwa, was to open talks for a new dispensation. Inevitably most MDC-T cadres are now of the opinion that any plan involving Mnangagwa was not to benefit, but to ostracise Tsvangirai from Zimbabwe’s politics.

In addition, Biti did not tell New that in 2008 top MDC-T officials were questioning why Tsvangirai should get into an electoral pact with people who flirted with Mnangagwa. Ngwena, as Mnangagwa is sometimes called, is notorious for being one of the commanders of an army that committed genocide in an operation code-named Gukurahundi on innocent civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 80s.Mnangagwa is also known to be an associate of Jonathan Moyo who is described by US officials in the Daily News of September 14, 2011 as “a useful messenger for extracting data from Zanu-PF.” The same article describes Moyo as a “serial flip-flopper.”

Another article in the same Daily News newspaper titled “Mnangagwa, Moyo plotted break-away from Zanu-PF” says “The UPM’s most identifiable principals Emmerson Mnangagwa and Jonathan Moyo each carry heavy liabilities with both domestic and international audiences for their association with past ruling party oppression.”

Furthermore, in his biography, At the Deep End, Tsvangirai reveals that, “Numerous reports reached me of secret meetings involving Ncube and a Zanu-PF faction aligned to Emmerson Mnangagwa, a close Mugabe ally and Speaker of Parliament, and headed by Chinamasa. Ncube had the backing of Sibanda, Gasela, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Paul Themba Nyathi and others, mainly from the western region.” With this information in hand, Mduduzi Mathuthu must explain why Tsvangirai and his MDC-T cadres should be compelled this time around to go into a pact with Welshman and his party knowing what the trade -off will be?

To conclude, the decision to go it alone in the harmonised elections of 2008 was a collective democratic MDC-T party decision. Even if Biti had advocated for something different, he is bound by the resolutions of the party and should not try to infer to journalists that he is the wiser one. In my opinion, any decision to go into an electoral pact with Welshman Ncube is a great risk because, as history can tell, his true friends are not in the MDC.

About Ncube’s suitability as a person to work with, Tsvangirai has it on record saying, “I understood Ncube and Chinamasa were working with Pearson Mbalekwa, a relation of Mnangagwa from Zvishavane and with Chinamasa’s good friend Jonathan Moyo. It appeared Zanu-PF had managed to convince Ncube and some Parliamentarians that to secure the interests of the Ndebele minority, it was important that they join hands with an influential section of Zanu-PF. By ‘influential,’ I mean a faction that enjoyed the backing of the military and South African President Thabo Mbeki.”

With that as food for thought, Mduduzi may perhaps want to tell Zimbabweans what guarantee there is that Welshman and his allies will not dump the MDC formations coalition immediately after elections have been won?


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