Monday, 26 January 2009

The gospel according to Biti

The gospel according to Biti

By Reason Wafawarova in SYDNEY, Australia

IN an article titled "Opportunism in The Zimbabwean Struggle" and published in various versions by, among other publications, The Zimbabwe Independent; the MDC-T secretary general, Tendai Biti, postured as a cosmopolitan authority of political struggles, in a piece that read more like a personal struggle for intellectual recognition than a means of communication to whoever it is that may believe that Biti is indeed part of any liberation struggle.

In apparent reference to the age of the opposition MDC, Biti asserts that the "struggle" has been long and that the end has become "as illusionary as a mirage."

Assuming for once that the British founded and American propelled political project led by Morgan Tsvangirai were indeed a struggle, it is quite revealing of the depth of its leadership when nine years is described as too long, one needs to compare these nine years to the The Zimbabwe nationalist movement that started in 1954, culminating in the formation of Zapu and later Zanu, all the way to independence in 1980, or to South Africa’s anti-apartheid ANC struggle that was started by the likes of Pixley ka Seme on January 8, 1912 and endured tribulations all the way until 1994, when independence came South Africa’s way.

That was 26 years for the real Zimbabwean struggle and still the end was never for once described to be "as illusionary as a mirage" and it was exactly seventy two years for South Africa’s ANC and yet none of its cadres is on record as saying the struggle’s end was as illusionary as a mirage.

Well, a struggle propelled by Western donor funds and executed by men and women wearing designer suits and waging their battles from behind expensively furnished offices, punctuated by lavish globe-trotting and aided by the employment of media pseudo-guerrillas and with civic activists acting as collaborators cannot realistically last the length of a genuine struggle and naturally, its end has to be as illusionary as a mirage.

Biti lamented the emergence of "opportunism, hypocrisy and mendacity" in this donor-funded spending venture he calls "the Zimbabwean struggle".

The simple biblical law of sowing is that one reaps what they sow. There are no guavas from mango trees or vice versa.

By running a Western directed regime change political project in the name of fighting for democracy and human rights as cover to Bush’s "grand imperial strategy" what the MDC leadership was doing was establishing a hypocritical and mendacious organisation. Whinging and whimpering about the creeping in of hypocrisy and mendacity is in this regard, frankly laughable.

Biti alludes that "the struggle" is "already arrested by exhaustion" and has become "commodified and bastardised".

Surely a political project whose implementers are motivated by donor funds is a commodified piece of act and there is no doubt a Zimbabwean political party directed by political benchmarks from London and Washington is a thoroughly bastardised entity.

This writer would have thought that was common knowledge; or commonsensical as Professor Arthur Mutambara would put it.

"History also shows that those struggles that have survived have only done so because a few have stayed the course and have refused to be seduced by myopic soft-landings," Biti said.

Nothing can be further from the truth. This is to suggest that the Chinese revolution was won by a minority of its membership, that the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa was won by a few of the ANC membership, that the Zimbabwe elections of 1980 were only won by a few of the members of the Patriotic Front, and honouring the MDC-T project as a movement in a struggle for once — that the 100 seats they garnered in the March 2008 election was an act of a "few (that) have stayed the course."

This writer’s history shows that real struggles have always been won by the power of the majority and not even one comes to mind as having been made a success because of a few people staying the course.

It is ironic that a secretary general of a party that rides on the tide of the power of sanctions and on the motivation of donor funding can publicly express surprise or rancour at those members within his party’s ranks who prefer a "soft landing". Cheap methods are always targeted at soft landings.

Clearly taking advantage of the departure of Jendayi Frazer and Condoleezza Rice, Biti takes a mild swipe at what he calls "neo-liberal, elitist mafia".

Neo-liberalism created the political position that Biti occupies and the assumption that the US Democrats might be at home with an attack on this ideology is just puerile, just as much as it is silly to assume that the average Zimbabwean may be fooled by this childish pretence.

Biti somehow still believes that the election result he unilaterally announced in March, resulting in legal repercussions still pending in the courts; is the valid election result and he explained this by arguing that if and only if President Mugabe did not have "three helicopters" and him and Morgan Tsvangirai were not driving in "dilapidated jalopies" then that 56 percent win would have been the authentic result, which indeed has become the authentic result as contained in the gospel according to Biti.

In what many have viewed as an attack on Arthur Mutambara, Biti says some people with "over-inflated egos" are banking on "self proclaimed mantra as kingmakers" and that such people are a product of "myopic venery".

What Biti does not explain is that he was and still is part of the three-party negotiating team that upheld the March 29 election result as authentic, that agreed that the presidency of Zimbabwe was not negotiable at the talks, that Arthur Mutambara was to be recognised as one of the three principals to oversee the negotiation process and that agreed that Zanu-PF was to have the largest portion of cabinet portfolios.

Yes the legitimacy of Arthur Mutambara is purely enshrined in the Memorandum of Understanding that Biti and the five other negotiators agreed on.

In this sense Mutambara owes his legitimacy as one of the principles to the fact that he leads the MDC and also that Biti endorsed him as part of this process.

If indeed Arthur Mutambara has a bloated ego, then Biti is part of the little constituency that gave him legitimacy.

Quite correctly, Biti describes as fraud the attempt by some "to equate Tsvangirai with Mugabe".

Frankly speaking, a President and a Prime Minister are not and cannot be equal, a liberation war hero and a founding leader of a nation’s independence cannot and is not equal to a quisling politician thriving on the funding of those from whom the country was liberated.

The only voice that has been shouting highest for equality with President Mugabe is that of Tsvangirai and all the delay in implementing the all inclusive government has been based on this request, sorry demand.

If as Biti suggests, this demand "ridicules and demonises Tsvangirai and the MDC" then he must seriously consider telling Tsvangirai to stop the mess.

Denying one "rocket scientist" the right to equate the "Mugabe regime" with "any other person", Biti emphatically equated his own leader, Tsvangirai, with Vladmir Lenin of the Bolshevik Revolution and Nelson Mandela of the South African anti-apartheid struggle. Mandela is still with us to hear this comparison, but this writer wonders if the elderly son of Africa will be amused by this.

ANC might not be too happy either; if the sentiments we have been hearing of late are anything to go by.

Biti resolutely and understandably defended the benignity of sanctions and antagonism to the land reform policy as causes to the "phenomenal" economic decline Zimbabwe faces today. He placed all the blame on "Mugabe and his acolytes," at whom he angrily threw a barrage of non-existent derogatory superlatives like "thugocratic", "juntacratised" and "securocracy".

Despite earlier on attacking one "rocket scientist" for daring comparing Zanu-PF "with any person", Biti himself compared the party to "many nationalist parties" with "a sense of entitlement" to rule. That is what happens when one writes angrily.

Biti describes as "philistine madness" the assertion that the "anti-Mugabe position (is) mothered and authored by the West" and that the MDC "must wait for Condoleezza Rice and Jendayi Fraser" to do their thinking.

Surely these can be named now because the risk is harmless.

One BBC reporter has just described Bolivia’s land reform policy and its nationalisation policies as "similar to the dictatorships of Venezuela, Cuba and Zimbabwe . . . clearly moving on a path of conflict with Western powers."

This is the kind of "philistine madness" that will make people think the anti-Mugabe mantra is mothered and authored by the West.

Is it mere coincidence that Biti’s "philistine madness" has examples excluding the likes of David Miliband, who is still actively involved in the foreign policy of the UK?

Biti claims to be after fulfilling the "unfinished business" of Joshua Nkomo, Edgar Tekere and Ndabaningi Sithole. We all know the unfinished business of the late Dr Joshua Nkomo, not so sure how many people know what "unfinished business" Reverend Sithole left and Tekere is still there to take care of any unfinished business he might be having.

One clear thing is that there is no common unfinished business between the three characters upon whose shoulders Biti seems to be contriving legitimacy.

Biti criticises those he called "revisionists" for equating "the sins of this regime with any other person" but he was quite revisionist himself by claiming good Samaritan-credit for the 1980s Matabeleland disturbances, Operation Murambatsvina and what he called "the post 2000 violence, the Final Push and other great demonstrations".

By citing the ZCTU-spearheaded National Working People’s Convention of February 1999, the September 11 1999 launching of the MDC at Rufaro Stadium, and the announcement of the referendum result of the 2000 draft Constitution, Biti angrily argued that this history suffices to dismiss the assertion that the MDC is funded by the British and the Americans, without really explaining much the logic behind his argument.

By implicit admission that Zimbabwe is indeed already liberated, Biti claims his party is "a social liberation movement" again without bothering to explain what social liberation means, and if indeed it is the job of politicians to carry out such a task.

Without offering any alternative Biti dismissed the "myth" that there are no other options currently available outside the dialogue and broad-based agreement.

This writer can only envisage one other option available and that is the governance of Zimbabwe without Tsvangirai and his crowd.

Gerontocracy is oligarchy or the rule of elites that qualify on the basis of being older than the adult membership of a political organisation and this writer thought all along the MDC was opposed to anything of "gerontocratic proportions".

Apparently Biti signed off his piece by boasting that at his relatively young age he is already running stuff of "gerontocratic proportions" at MDC-T.

What Biti confirmed through his article are reports that he is firmly opposed to the broad-based agreement to which he was a chief negotiator and also that he is opposed not to the agreement itself but to the fact that the subsequent inclusive government will be "chaired by Mugabe", a situation he described as "cataleptic".

It really does not take more than a political science first year student to get the answer right on who in the world is opposed to the Zimbabwean inclusive government being chaired by President Mugabe.

Any student who may for some reason give the answer as Biti or MDC-T will not pass because the real forces behind the "Mugabe must stand down" slogan are well known.

Biti can only be parroting them and when people suggest that these people do his thinking he must not be as angry as he expressed in his article.

It is this writer’s hope that leaders trusted with the responsibility of leading the national healing process as was bestowed on Honourable Biti by those who elected him to represent MDC-T at the Sadc facilitated talks do realise the danger of spawning hate and animosity among the people.

The unfathered gospel that Biti tried to link to the cause of our liberation struggle is really not the best way of honouring the heroes of the liberation struggle.

Picking Dr Joshua Nkomo for purposes of isolating him against his living colleagues was not a wise thing to do and cherry picking those who fell by the wayside of the revolution as "Mugabe’s victims of persecution" was quite misplaced as well.

The frank reality about MDC is that even Zanu-PF rebels take exception at being associated with the quisling party and Biti cannot pretend to be rubbing shoulders with any part of the liberation struggle, even its own rebellious elements.
MDC is simply too tainted to quote anyone who for once meaningfully participated in ending white minority rule.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we shall overcome. It is homeland or death!

l Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or reason@ or visit

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