THE internecine strife in Zimbabwe’s MDC over control of the party offers an opportunity to part the veil and glimpse inside the true make up of opposition political parties in Southern Africa, revealing the rickety nature of their ideological grounding.
Nelson Chamisa and Thokozani Khupe are battling tooth and nail to claim ownership of Zimbabwe’s biggest opposition party.
And as with all such political battles, they inadvertently lay bare the true colours of the men and women who like to posture as Africa’s political saviours.
Opposition parties in the region have largely been driven by three agendas: to push liberation movements out of the picture (and thereby erase a critical chunk of Southern African history); to protect white capital monopoly; and to make money for themselves.
Their origins as modern political entities tell the whole story.
When the MDC was formed in September 1999, it announced itself as the darling of white farmer interests.
While it did not go the Democratic Alliance way in South Africa where Hellen Zille was brazenly placed at the helm, the MDC opted for a black front in the name of Morgan Tsvangirai.
Likewise, the Popular Democratic Movement, which claims to be a born-again African political party, cannot hide its true character as a proxy for apartheid era politics in Namibia.
Its quisling sister in Mozambique, the National Resistance Movement (RENAMO), also got immense material and (im)moral support from apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia, the United States and West Germany.
It is quite difficult to locate a single major opposition party in Southern Africa that is not a front for foreign interests.
Which is why the fight for control of the MDC in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with good governance or serving the people. It a grotesque pageant to attract Western backing and, by extension, control of the purse strings.
Democracy and all they claim to represent only come as an afterthought.
The MDC was formed with specific instructions from Western countries, particularly the United States and Britain, to either stop or reverse Zimbabwe’s Land Reform and Resettlement Programme.
This was meant to stop other African countries from embarking on a similar programme, with the Western particularly fearful about land reforms in South Africa, Namibia and Kenya.
Land ownership statistics in South Africa do not make good reading: the government says whites, who constitute nine percent of the population, own 72 percent of prime land.
The reaction to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2018 announcement that the ANC would push for amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to embark on meaningful land reforms tells the whole story about whose interests many opposition parties serve.
On January 24, 2019, news24 carried an article titled “Throwback Thursday to a once prosperous Zimbabwe”, which said, in part: “The Zimbabwean story is such a disaster and a terrible idea, you would think that no sane person would ever try to replicate it, however, the South African government is following in the exact same footsteps!!
“It is like Deja-Vu. The same rhetoric and propaganda is fuelling racial discord, totally distracting the people while the ruling ANC government steals whatever they can! Corrupt leaders are exposed for serious crimes on a daily basis with zero accountability. Minorities are constantly made the scapegoats for government failures.
“The world needs to start paying attention to what is happening in southern Africa and to stop giving aid that finds its way directly into the back pockets of corrupt leaders and never to the people who most need it.
“Next time you complain about your leaders saying some mean things or perhaps making controversial decisions, have a read up about our leaders and thank your lucky stars you live in a free, democratic, capitalist society. You’ve never had it so good.”
This is the language of opposition parties in Southern Africa. There is no room in their politics for the needs of the majority.
Across the region, opposition parties claim to be fighting for democracy in order to hide their real intentions.
There is hardly any mention of empowerment of the majority, control of resources for the national interest, or the rights of people who have been historically marginalised by colonialism.
When we see internal fights in the DA or the in the MDC, let no one be fooled into thinking these characters are fighting to better serve the people.
They are fighting to be the West’s main darling in their country, and to control the money that is channelled to their treacherous political parties.
The region should not think that the DA is South Africa’s problem, or that the MDC is Zimbabwe’s problem. Our collective future is at stake.
Let us recall the words of Thabo Mbeki’s at the 2007 SADC Summit in Dar es Salaam: “The fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe, tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will be Angola, it will be any other African country.
“And any government that is perceived to be strong and to be resistant to imperialists would be a target and would be undermined. So tell us not to allow any point of weakness in the solidarity of SADC, because that weakness will also be transferred to the rest of Africa.”