Monday, February 21, 2011

A leader who thrives among raw talent and flourishes in dull environs

By Silence Chihuri

POLITICAL national leadership calls for original thinking, malleable character and most importantly, the ability to judge and deduce a sustainable way forward from a given state of affairs.
One needs to stand his own ground and have an independent mind that is not parasitic when it comes to ideas and initiatives. It is a massive challenge to be a political leader.
When Morgan Tsvangirai switched careers from Trade Unionism to politics, this was a sea change because he boarded a totally different vessel. In Zambia Fredrick Chiluba made the same misjudgement of likening Trade Unionism to politics and almost plunged Zambia into an abyss.
Coming back home Tsavngirai has had a great opportunity to develop, perfect as well as display his leadership credentials but has failed to do so convincingly.
When the MDC was formed in 1999, it was a great idea put together by Zimbabweans whose main and broad objective was to offer the people of Zimbabwe a competitive political and democratic situation.
However, as soon as Tsvangirai assumed the MDC mantle, he very quickly and notably narrowed the scope of the MDC party’s appeal especially to the broader Zimbabwean intelligentsia, academia and business class. Under his leadership, the MDC agenda has been largely to disloge Zanu PF from power and nothing meaningful has been explored beyond that so as to excite and entice a broader following. Also, the party has struggled if not failed to enlist the membership and the much needed contribution of, or any keen interest from the Zimbabwean business moguls most of whom have assumed a very remote following of the party’s progress. The only business interest has obviously emanated from the natural desire to see the direction the country would take under an MDC government and nothing else.
A very disturbing kind of politics has enmeshed itself at the heart of the party in the nature of an inferiority complexion. The idea has been to ensure the party shies away from real talent and the much-needed diversity of minds while preferring a blind-lead-blind scenario. One such very disappointing example is the manner in which Tsavngirai has blunderingly thrust the inexperienced Nelson Chamisa at the heart of the party by appointing him the spokesperson and secretary general all rolled in one.
Chamisa is the nauseatingly ambitious MDC MP for the Kuwadzana constituency in Harare. Whether such an appointment is in acting capacity or to fill-in a vacuum for an interim period of time, it does not matter because this is the party’s engine and should only be entrusted into the hands of a mature person not a political half-bake like the Honourable MP. What Tsvangirai could be doing with Chamisa apart from regularly throwing him in to deliver those repeatedly reshuffled sound bites at most of his rallies, is to actually groom Chamisa and help him (if he can), to nature his career until such time he is seasoned enough to assume a such serious position and role in a party of the magnitude of the MDC. I particularly thought the youth apprenticeship was an ideal starting point Chamisa.
Tsavingirai has never made a secret of his fascination with Chamisa and that is not my problem here but surely for him, as President of a party with such potential as the MDC to be so dependent on the likes of Chamisa for inspiration is quite disturbing. If Chamisa is all the MDC as a party can assemble as a stand-in spokesperson and secretary general, then surely divine intervention should be sought urgently. No wonder that Chamisa has caused so much damage to the party during the few days he has been marauding in his newly found capacity. There is nothing personal here but this is our country that I am talking about and it may be further ruined while we all watch. This surely has to be checked. Tsvangirai has simply demonstrated yet again the limitation of his judgement, the narrowness of his appeal and most disturbingly, his inferiority complex. He seems to thrive among raw talent and flourishes in dull environs.
When the party got so sharply and openly divided, Tsvangirai was supposed to raise his game as leader and demonstrate real and capable leadership. But alas, the man dismally failed much to the irritation and chagrin of Zimbabweans who surely deserve better. In handling the crisis, Tsvangirai has largely depended on tutelage from his ensemble of advisers much of whom it seems, could actually do with advise. As a result, valuable opportunities to mend the differences have been missed and the party is now all set for a real split while the leader has been all ears to opportunists who have been ensconcing themselves in the newly created workspace.
Silence Chihuri is a Zimbabwean and lives in Scotland. He can be contacted at

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