What went wrong in Ncube’s MDC?

What went wrong in Ncube’s MDC?

mutambaraTHE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Welshman Ncube continues to bounce from one crisis to another, amid indications that its pending unification with the MDC Renewal Team could be much ado about nothing.
The two parties have pencilled their unification for August.
With four months to go before their amalgamation, there are tell-tale signs that all is not well in Ncube’s party.
Early indications that the party was in trouble surfaced with the shock resignation of former director of policy and research, Qhubani Moyo in the aftermath of the 2013 polls.
In the 2013 elections, the party fared dismally – failing to win a single seat in the National Assembly.
Party leader, Ncube only secured 92 000 votes out of 3, 480, 047.
Since then, the MDC has been hard-hit by resignations, which has left Ncube presiding over a weakened party.
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, the former secretary-general, Frank Chamunorwa and Nhlanhla Dube the national spokesperson among others have resigned in recent weeks from either their leadership posts or the party.
Analysts now doubt if the unification talks between the MDC and the MDC Renewal Team led by Sekai Holland would offer any hope for those desirous to see change in the way Zimbabwe is governed.
The unification is likely to fall short of expectations with one school of thought positing that a total unification of the opposition is what is needed if the opposition is to stand a chance against ZANU-PF in the next 2018 elections.
Political commentator, Zibusiso Dube, said the MDC’s failure was that it never did enough to develop a strong grassroots support of its own like ZANU-PF and the MDC-T.
“While the party had and has very capable leaders, it has always lacked a strong grassroots base, hence poor performance in elections,” he said.
A founding member of the original MDC formed in 1999, Ncube led a splinter group out of the main party led by Morgan Tsvangirai in September 2005.
Tsvangirai has not forgiven Ncube for that.
In his book: In the Deep End, Tsvangirai gave rare insights into the relationship that existed between them.
The impact of the split is still being felt up to this day.
Weakened by Ncube and his group’s departure, the MDC-T has struggled to upstage ZANU-PF in elections, with its heavy defeat coming in 2013.
Ncube does not hide his dislike for Tsvangirai as well.
He has refuses to be drawn into any unification talks with Tsvangirai despite it being clear that ZANU-PF’s continued rule can only be broken by a united opposition.
After leading the MDC’s breakaway from Tsvangirai’s party in 2005; Ncube opted to play it safe. Instead of seizing the party’s leadership, his group brought in Arthur Mutambara to lead the party.
It was at the party’s congress in 2011 that Ncube finally arrived when he replaced Mutambara as leader of the party.
Long perceived by observers to be a calculative politician, MDC supporters celebrated his rise as a welcome departure from Mutambara who was seen to be out of touch with grassroots supporters.
Ncube has, however, struggled to make a noticeable impact since he rose to the helm of the MDC in January 2011.
Initially, his leadership held the promise of rejuvenation after the lacklustre period under Mutambara’s watch, but this soon fizzled out.
The MDC was persistently dogged by talk of being a tribal and regional party.
It played right into the hands of critics by expending much energy canvassing for support across the length and breadth of the three Matabeleland provinces, at the expense of spreading its appeal nationally.
At one time, the MDC was bandied about by political observers as likely to eclipse the MDC-T in Matabeleland provinces riding on its central election campaign theme, which was based on the devolution of power.
But this only served to further entrench the belief that it was a regionally-biased political movement.
Disgruntled former party members describe Ncube in harsh terms, as having dictatorial tendencies and prone to being swayed by the grapevine.
Social commentator, Butholezwe Nyathi, said those that had gone their separate ways with the MDC had realised that it would not assume State power anytime soon.
“Naturally people start looking for alternatives, but it would appear in the most recent resignations that the four had created an alternate centre of power and that naturally attracts strong reaction from those closest and most loyal               to the president of the party,” said Nyathi.
“I believe party colleagues, with the blessings of the president, frustrated the lot out of the system. I have every reason to believe that Ncube has a legitimate expectation and desire to lead the united party.”
For now, the MDC has a bit of time to try and get its house in order.
If it fails then the memories of the 2013 election may only be repeated at the ballot box yet again in 2018.

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