Tendai Biti, coward of the county
“I AM proud to announce today that we have discussed our issues and there is now unprecedented harmony and unity of purpose in the MDC cockpit,” Tsvangirai explained. Describing calls for him to step down as “dynamic contradictions” that drive democracy in the MDC party he assured supporters of the troubled movement that all was well.
Within 48-hours the MDC rebels, as they have come to be called, had given their own version to the press rubbishing everything Tsvangirai had said. There was no unity pact; there was no harmony in the cockpit.
I am not surprised that Tsvangirai lied; it is the politician’s tool of choice. What is remarkable is his lack of foresight. Surely it should have entered his contemplation that the rebels would simply tell the media the truth and discredit his claims. What was the point of that entire press conference? Worse still is the subsequent expulsion of Mangoma, hardly the picture of ‘unprecedented’ harmony.
Tendai Biti and a moneyed Rhodesian faction are reportedly the masterminds of the leadership renewal campaign; Mangoma was the unfortunate spokesman.
While many would rightly expect that those who encouraged Mangoma to publicly denounce Tsvangirai would now rise to his defence, Biti is unlikely to do so, neither will his Rhodesian co-conspirators.
What is likely is that Mangoma will become a sacrificial lamb while Biti will attempt to carry on as usual. Sadly, for Biti in particular, that will not be possible. He will not survive the next congress where the calculating Chamisa is eyeing his post.
It is not so much that Chamisa supports Tsvangirai, far from it. His allegiance to the ‘captain’ is self-serving in that he wants to use Tsvangirai as a safe-keeper of the MDC-T presidency until he (Chamisa) is old enough to run for president.
If Biti somehow rose to the helm, Chamisa’s hopes of ascending to the presidency would be immediately dashed. For one, Biti would probably spend a decade in the role. In addition, the two are not especially fond of each other and Biti would no doubt use his new found power to surround himself with loyalists.
It is quite a pity Tsvangirai cannot read Chamisa’s motives.
Short of a miracle, it is almost certain that Biti will be dethroned at the early congress slated for March 2015. Chamisa is manoeuvring to make sure of it, rearranging party structures, purging Biti loyalists and replacing them with reliable yes-men.
Biti seems awfully short of options but he must do something. Given the desperate circumstances, Biti’s best, perhaps only, bet is to rip the party apart, or at least threaten to do so, in the hope of securing concessions from Tsvangirai’s camp.
The threat of a split, taking away the MDC-T’s major donors, would certainly give Tsvangirai pause, though one cannot be sure he’s not foolish enough to call the bluff.
However, Biti can only make such threats if he ups the ante and goes public and also denounces Tsvangirai.
Biti will do no such thing because he is a coward. While in the past he could quietly despise Tsvangirai while paying lip service in public to maintain his position in the MDC-T, the situation is now very much different. He has been found out and it is just a matter of time before the inevitable happens.
Naturally, Tsvangirai will seek to contain Biti by falsely reassuring him. It would be unhelpful if Biti were driven into berserk retaliation or, worse still, given time to counter-strategise.
Though poorly executed, I must say that I am quite impressed by Tsvangirai’s decisive handling of the ”rebels”.
He is showing a, sometimes necessary, ruthless streak and has correctly recognised the nature of the fight he is in. Eat or be eaten.
While Mangoma’s camp would want to portray themselves as being intellectual guardians of the MDC-T founding values, the truth of it is that they harbour political ambitions. If Tsvangirai were to step down, does it not stand to reason that the renewal camp would reward Mangoma for the leading role he played in dethroning him?
What I find quite peculiar is the uninterrupted security of the moneyed Rhodesians. It is known that Roy Bennett, Ian Kay, Eddie Cross and others are supportive of and are agitating for leadership renewal. However, none of them is under threat. Ian Kay, who was only briefly suspended, is evidence of that. Roy Bennett criticised Tsvangirai in the media but nothing has happened to him.
What is even more worrying is how Bennett now refuses to be associated with the renewal team. A few weeks ago he reacted angrily to reports in the public media that he had criticised Tsvangirai in a telephone interview.
White cunning is now operating at full throttle and this is the sort of thing that white people excel at, diplomacy. Nathaniel Manheru correctly observed that whites do not forgive but have a long-term view of conflict. They prefer to live to fight another day. It is not so much that the Rhodesian faction now believes in Tsvangirai. It does not.
However, they are willing to bide their time, staying close enough to power until such a time as they can extract benefit.
Mangoma must be regretting his white-inspired bravado. He’s now out in the cold while his instructors cuddle cheerfully with the man he sought to help them overthrow.
Ndatenda, ndini muchembere wenyu Amai Jukwa