Letter to the Editor

I do not normally respond to articles about me in the news papers. I have found in my long career in public life that this seldom serves any purpose and the article in question is usually forgotten in a matter of days anyway. However I see that yesterday, the State media carried on trying to use the story about my recent e mail to the leadership, to ruffle the feathers of the MDC.

Now I know that the main purpose of the Chronicle and the Herald is to act as the propaganda arm of Zanu PF and I expect that they are unlikely to carry this letter as a response to their recent series related to what I said or did not say. But for my own sake and because the President of the MDC suggested that I attempt to clarify what I said, I write this short response.

Firstly I cannot accept that the Herald obtained my e mail and the response from Kerry Kay from a “leak” within the Party. My e mail was sent to five members of our leadership – the President, the Secretary General, the Treasurer and the National Spokesperson as well as Mrs. Kerry Kay, a member of our National Executive. Not one of these individuals would have, under any circumstances, leaked an e mail of this nature to the State controlled media. I must therefore assume that these were routine intercepts of our e mails by State Security Agents and note this with interest and will make sure to use other means for communications of this nature in future.

However, I know full well that anything you put out on the Web can and will be distributed and therefore I never put anything out there that I do not want read or feel that it would do damage if it became public. I write a weekly analysis of affairs in Zimbabwe and this gets very wide distribution.

Then there is the issue of what I said at the rally in Bulawayo last weekend. What I did was to greet the several thousand people there (ZBC said it was a small crowd) and then said in Ndebele that Tsvangirai was the “Boss” – you could interpret this as saying he was “my boss”. Now the word I used is one that I have been called since I was two years old – its traditional use was as “Lord” or “King”. Clearly I am neither, so in my world, the term simply means “boss”, the man in charge. The Herald says I was worshipping him, the Chronicle (better Ndebele) said I called him “my King”. Then they went on to say that I was two faced – my e mails criticized the President and said that the MDC was falling apart (both true).

I said nothing in that e mail that I have not said to the MDC President in private and he is well aware of my views. When the journalist from the Herald phoned me to confirm the content of the e mail, I spoke to him at length and carefully explained the background to my views, even though I have been on radio and in other media several times on this issue and thought I had made myself quite clear. He totally ignored my expressed views in the subsequent article.

My position is that the issue over Elton Mangoma’s letter to the President (that WAS leaked), is a storm in a tea cup and should not have been allowed to blow up into the crisis that it has created in the MDC. He has every right (though it may not have been a wise thing to do) to raise the issues he did in that letter. However what everyone misses (including Elton) is that the question of leadership change in the MDC is an issue for an elective Congress and nowhere else. It is the members of the MDC, elected by our rank and file membership throughout the country that will decide at our next Congress who will lead us into the next elections and beyond.

The present leadership of the MDC was elected at our last Congress, only Morgan Tsvangirai and Roy Bennett were unopposed – Tendai Biti’s post was hotly contested. None of this leadership has resigned or intends to resign and any attempt to remove the President before the next Congress is unconstitutional. He could resign, but in my view that would do nothing to resolve the problems that the Party is faced with at present. Who would replace him on an interim basis until the elections? In any event, it is my view that he would be reelected by a wide margin at any Congress – whether it is held in 2014, 2015 or 2016.

The point is that for all his shortcomings (who in the world is perfect) Morgan Tsvangirai has the support and commitment of the great majority of those who support the MDC throughout the country and it is those people, who have the right, and only those people, who can determine who they want in leadership.

I have lived and worked in Zimbabwe all my life and the one thing I have learned to trust is the collective view of the ordinary people who live here. When I sit down in my constituency with the local leadership of the MDC I am told quite clearly that while they want a Congress as early as possible, there is no question as to whom they will support for President. Tsvangirai is the boss, he is in charge and they want him to remain there.

What Elton and any other leader who aspires to become President of the MDC have to do, is to come up through the ranks in the Party and toss his or her hat into the ring at the Congress. We have already agreed to an early Congress in March 2015, they have a year to campaign; get out there and start work. I have discussed this with the President of the MDC several times and he agrees – there is nothing to stop a challenge at any time. I think they would be wasting their time and money, but that is the nature of democracy.

The question remains, should Morgan Tsvangirai stay on as leader or is it time to move on. That is not an issue for anyone but himself and our membership, but it is a valid question for him. He is quite happy to have the position contested but feels that he still has a lot to contribute and cannot let his loyal supporters down before real change comes to Zimbabwe.

In his defense what I would say is this – no single person has done more for the struggle against tyranny and dictatorship in this country than Tsvangirai, he was responsible for the formation of the NCA and the eventual adoption of a new Constitution which although flawed, is streets ahead of what we had. He was responsible for the formation of the MDC and has led it for 15 years. It is the only Political Party that has been able to take on the monolithic Zanu PF, survive and win.

The MDC team is a winning team; let’s not forget that, it was this team that developed the road map in 2006 that led to the GPA and the GNU. It was this team that rescued the country from total collapse and becoming a failed State in 2009. It was the MDC that won the 2008 elections only to be denied by the machinations of the Zanu PF leadership and the JOC and the interference in our internal affairs by South Africa in support of Zanu PF.

The MDC simply cannot break up that team under pressure from a defeat in a totally lop sided contest in 2013 under a referee that was totally subverted. We certainly cannot lose our two key strikers – Mangoma and Biti, who in my view were the two best performing Ministers in the GNU and the architects of the new Constitution and the strategies that kept Zanu PF on the ropes until they were rescued by the JOC and the region.

Sure Zanu PF caught the bus on the 31st July 2013, but they then discovered that when they had all climbed back on board, that the driver did not know where he was going and did not have the strength to control the bus. That in the seat behind the driver were at least 4 individuals who felt that they could drive the bus and deserved the chance to do so. They now also know very well that the bus has no diesel and its tyres are all shot to ribbons. This bus is going nowhere and what is needed at this point is an alternative, one that only the MDC can give credence and respect. The challenge for the MDC is to stop squabbling and get the winning team back into training; they are going to be needed shortly.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 23rd March 2014