The folly of MDC's mission of shame

The folly of MDC's mission of shame
Published: 15 December 2017 (722 Views)
The latest excursion to the West by the MDC, donning the new coat of "Alliance", is nothing more than the opposition returning to its treacherous roots. The MDC, with the help of the United States (US), is re-strategising, following the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe, and the subsequent ushering in of a new Government headed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which has left the opposition at sixes and sevens.

This is more so given that the reformist thrust being pursued by the new administration has left the opposition with no message, if it ever had, serve for its "Mugabe Must Go" mantra. Now that Mugabe is gone, and President Mnangagwa is implementing progressive economic reforms, as well as unveiling a new political culture both within, and without Zanu-PF, the opposition has been left clutching at straws.

In the aftermath of leadership change in the country, the MDC, through its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, supported the march by Zimbabweans on November 18 2017, as well as the military intervention. Yes, Tsvangirai even graced the inauguration of President Mnangagwa and heartily congratulated him.

Realising that the new President had taken over their niche political market through his conciliatory and reformist tone, the MDC inexplicably retraced its footsteps after realising that it was fast regressing into political oblivion.

Not knowing what to do in the wake of this stark reality, Tsvangirai fully aware of his health frailties, which made it impossible for him to personally travel, dispatched a team, comprising Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti and Prof Welshman Ncube to appear before the US Senate Sub-Committee on Africa and Global Health Policy, ostensibly to make submissions on the future of Zimbabwe. Another opposition foot soldier, Human Rights Watch (HRW) Southern Africa Director Dewa Mavhinga, also travelled to the US.

The moment many saw the list of attendees, there was consternation as to the wisdom of senior opposition politicians, some actually legislators in Zimbabwe, choosing to appear before the US Senate to pressure the US government to ensure ostensible reforms in Zimbabwe, before exhausting local platforms and remedies from either the new Executive, or through the Legislature, of which Chamisa is a member.

Even Government critics such as University of Kent lecturer Dr Alex Magaisa, tweeted that "the idea of our most senior politicians going to bear witness before a legislative body in a foreign country might be packaged as diplomacy, but it gives me no comfort at all. If it's really necessary, that's what technical officers should be assigned to do."

Commenting on the same issue, Zimbabwean Ambassador to Senegal Trudy Stevenson, who herself is an MDC daughter, tweeted: "strange that our political leaders have run to Donald Trump, asking for protection.

"Surely #Zimbabwe can do its own thing, by now?"

In the aftermath of the presentation, Zimbabweans woke up to learn that Mavhinga and Biti, both opposition mascots, representing the broader interests of the regime change project, singularly and jointly called for electoral reforms and re-alignment of the country's laws with the Constitution from the United States and insisted on the maintenance of US foreign policy on Zimbabwe until their demands were met.

We all know that, that policy is anchored on the illegal sanctions regime captured by the legislation called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) of 2001.

Why the MDC Alliance and its surrogates such as HRW, if they were sincere, did not seek audience first with President Mnangagwa to air their concerns before rushing to America, is perplexing.

But no, it is not. The MDC Alliance had to go to its roots to get guidance on how to reform, re-model and reincarnate itself, seeing that it has become irrelevant in the current political matrix with elections just around the corner.

Then the cat came out of the bag.

Chamisa posted a picture of himself, Biti, Vanguard Africa executive director Jeffrey Smith, accompanied by the tweet: "in the US – I'm with bro & Cde, Biti, on a vital global advocacy and diplomatic outreach. Our meetings are high level with the State Department, Congress, Global business and US civil society. Our focus is repositioning opposition & global coalition for free and fair elections in 2018."

The question is, who is Smith? Smith is the executive director of Vanguard Africa, which is purportedly "a start-up non-profit-making organisation that provides campaign advice and public relations support to pro-democracy leaders in Africa."

Smith, together with US Democratic Party strategist Joe Trippi and Christopher Harvin of public relations firm Sanitas International, launched Vanguard Africa in April 2016.

The organisation purports to support pro-democracy "political underdogs" in Africa by giving them public relations support.

According to Newsweek magazine of January 30, 2017, Smith convened meetings with three unidentified Gambian major opposition candidates in New York, where they hammered out details for electoral reforms and various constitutional provisions.

Krista Mahr of Newsweek described Smith as "likeable and responsive, has built relationships with dozens of activists from Angola to Zimbabwe, and has American officials at the highest echelons on speed dial.

"One of his strengths: getting Washington DC power brokers and activists who fight repressive regimes in the same room."

Newsweek further reveals that "he (Smith), teamed up with political consultants Joe Trippi – with whom he struck up a relationship over shared connections to Zimbabwe's opposition – and Christopher Harvin," adding that "the group hopes its successful campaign in Gambia will be a blueprint for working in other countries where fledgling democratic movements need a boost."

Smith has previously worked for Unesco on its Africa policy, the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Foundation and US think tank Freedom House. Trippi, who is a senior adviser at Vanguard Africa, had previously been a campaign consultant for US Democratic party presidential candidates, Howard Dean and John Edwards in 2004 and on Tsvangirai's 2008 campaign.

From the foregoing, the trip, dubbed the trip of shame, is nothing but an excursion to get counsel and new terms of reference from the MDC's benefactors pursuant to their doomed regime change project in Zimbabwe. The role that Smith will play as the handler of the MDC Alliance ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections is there for all to see. After all, he was the hand behind the MDC Alliance trip to the US as he has "America officials on speed dial".



- the herald

Tags: MDC, Sanctions, US,
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