Morgan Richard Tsvangirai stands as a giant in Zimbabwean politics. More than any other, he has taken the fight up to Zanu PF for the last 18 years and he has paid dearly for his courageous stance.
By Tapson Muchena
At a time when his health is failing and there is a battle to be waged against a renewed Zanu PF at the coming elections, we would expect to see his party rallying to take up the fight, but, instead, we see those seeking to carve up his legacy taking his party into chaos.
Let it be stated plainly: Those MDC leaders, whether elected or appointed, who are shamefully jockeying for positions instead of presenting a united front, are betraying the millions of Zimbabweans who have rallied behind Tsvangirai in the fight for a free and democratic nation.
They are driven by hubristic personal ambition that is unworthy of those who are called to serve the people and is nothing short of treachery.
I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 3:3: “For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly?”
Politics is not a career, it is a vocation. Those politicians who do not care about the people, and seek only to leverage the people and their suffering for political gain, are not worthy of their calling.
What is at stake is more than winning an election — it is redeeming the nation from oppression and exploitation.
Let there be no mistake: Those who contrived to remove former President Robert Mugabe, crush the G40 faction, and consolidate power in the hands of a Zanu PF junta comprising the military, the party and the war veterans, have absolutely no intention of exposing themselves to electoral defeat in a free and fair election in July or August.
Be quite clear that this Zanu PF junta has a vision of continued authoritarian rule into the future.
As I have spelt out in previous articles, they will use the tools of democracy to maintain effective authoritarian control following the model of the Chinese Communist Party.
They will observe the procedural forms of democratic government without real democratisation.
With the military openly involved in government, the opposition parties divided, and Tsvangirai seriously ill, there seems little likelihood that Zanu PF or President Emmerson Mnangagwa will lose power.
The only hope is for MDC-T to quell its internecine feud and to take up its proper role at the core of a united alliance that will embrace all opposition parties and welcome the contributions of each.
Let the people, not the parties, decide their parliamentary candidates at primary elections in each constituency — it is the people who are best qualified to choose who should represent them.
It is clear that MDC-T must call a special congress as soon as possible to resolve the current feuding and to settle the issue of party leadership once and for all.
Even then, it is difficult to see an opposition alliance uniting behind the new president of the MDC-T, as their candidate for the Office of President of Zimbabwe.
This is where the opposition needs to think outside the box and put forward a candidate that all opposition parties can unite behind.
They must seek out a prominent Zimbabwean of proven probity and integrity, who is above the political fray and has demonstrated a commitment to serving the people.
Such a candidate for the Office of President of Zimbabwe could be the eminent jurist Justice Moses Chinhengo.
It is perhaps unfair to single out Justice Chinhengo as an example.
Nonetheless, he represents the calibre of leader that all the opposition parties could unite behind.
In his career, Justice Chinhengo has demonstrated that he stands unwaveringly for the rule of law and will not tolerate Executive interference with the Judiciary.
He can be regarded as a father of the present Constitution of Zimbabwe, having been a member of the Chidyausiku Commission, a group of five lawyers who drew up the proposed Constitution for Zimbabwe, which failed to be accepted by the majority in a referendum in 2000.
Justice Chinhengo was selected by the Parliamentary Constitution Select Committee (Copac) as one of the three drafters of the new Constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by the referendum in 2013. There is not a better man to return Zimbabwe to constitutional government.
As well as having experience in private legal practice and in insurance and investment companies, Justice Chinhengo served with distinction in various capacities in the civil service in the ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs, as well as the Department of Parliamentary Affairs.
He was appointed as a judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe in 1996 and served in that capacity until his resignation in 2004 in protest against Executive interference in the Judiciary.
He subsequently served as a judge of the High Court of Botswana.
Justice Chinhengo has been a member of the International Commission of Jurists since 2009.
I stress that I am simply presenting Justice Chinhengo as an example of an eminent Zimbabwean who could be the Presidential candidate put forward by a united opposition alliance.
There will be other distinguished Zimbabweans, technocrats, academics, jurists, at home and in the Diaspora who are suitable candidates: Strive Masiyiwa, Mutumwa Mawere and James Manyika are others who come to mind.
There are only a few precious months left in which the MDC-T must resolve its present crisis, draw together all opposition parties into one united alliance that can rally behind an exemplary leader, conduct primary elections to select parliamentary candidates, and promote an unprecedented voter turnout. There is not a moment to be lost.
Tapson Muchena is an academic. He can be contacted on email: email@example.com, or Twitter: @TapsonMuchena