It was very interesting to read the article, titled Accept Reality Dr Magaisa, by young Tsvangirai doing the rounds in the media from the 9th of February 2021. Love him or hate him, Vincent’s article was beautifully written and well thought in a systematic way. The article elicited some responses from both Magaisa and Ruhanya and others took to twitter and Facebook to express themselves.
At exactly 1102hrs on 11.02. 2021 Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya responded to Tsvangirai indirectly. He instead addressed Douglas Mwonzora begging him not to abuse MP Tsvangirai to pick wars with himself, Wamagaisa and Prof J. Moyo. He further went on to attribute the piece to having been written by one “Mashakanda” on behalf of Tsvangirai. Not sure whether Ruhanya wanted to say Mashakada the Dr when he said Mashakanda. If indeed he meant to say Mashakada I can only presume it was a typo. Further, he went on to implore Mwonzora to “advice” Tsvangirai to go back and complete his matric exams in SA. Again it looks the good Doctor has challenges in distinguishing between verbs and nouns. He seems genuinely confused in the use of advice and advice. Ruhanya went on to claim that Tsvangirai failed his matric exams in SA and threatened to “post the results[sic]” Whether the repetition of ‘the’ is advertent, inadvertent or its stammering remains a mystery. However, such typos and grammatical errors are not expected from self-proclaimed polished academics of Ruhanya’s ilk. He shouldn’t have rushed to post without proof reading. It doesn’t sit well with people of his status. It puts to question one’s academic quality especially in this age of fake and or fast track academic achievements. It’s below the belt and ironic for Ruhanya to denigrate anyone for academic shortcomings if any. Ruhanya himself failed to gunner enough points at Advanced level to go straight to university. He had to first detour to Harare Polytechnic in Mass communication, where he wasn’t an outstanding student either, to obtain a diploma and use that as entry qualification to gain access to degree enrolment. It means he had to work extra hard to be where he is. And Vincent Tsvangirai can do the same without exception. The truth is for Ruhanya it’s unlike Alex Magaisa who went straight from Assisi High school to University of Zimbabwe law school. Probably that explains Magaisa’s language and grammar-wise polished writings.
Five minutes after Ruhanya’s tweet, at 1107hrs, Dr Magaisa posted his own. With a condescending air of superiority he was dismissive of Tsvangirai. He dismissed young Tsvangirai’s capabilities as an individual and that he only rides on the back of his late father’s name. He calls him a shameless liar propping a limping and politically bankrupt political entity. Like Ruhanya Magaisa directly attacks Mwonzora and claims it’s him responding to his BSR and not Tsvangirai. He also becomes obscene when he says Mwonzora, ‘lacks cojones.’ Like Ruhanya Magaisa has no scruples in going below the belt. He has no tangible proof that its Mwonzora writing. If indeed it’s Mwonzora who is writing all these public responses to Magaisa’s BSRs then the man has energy and has what it takes to lead. Magaisa should know that it is not everyone who shares his vilification of Mwonzora. One response from one twimbo on Magaisa’s thread is interesting to note. The twimbo asks Magaisa why he says Tsvangirai can’t write on his own. And whether it isn’t a question of being pissed off by being told the truth in his face? The Twimbo further says what Magaisa is good at “is name calling & insults. No wonder all those you advice [sic] never made it”. One @Rutendo Jiri reminded Magaisa that the moment he called Tsvangirai a front his argument became flawed. Another follower of Magaisa told him that he was actually bullying the young Tsvangirai.
What is interesting in both the Ruhanya and Magaisa tweets is that they have nothing to say about the content of Vincent Tsvangirai’s article. They never responded to the content. Instead they attacked persons. It shows the flawed nature of the two learned doctors’ writings on this matter.
However, on a different and lighter note another prolific writer, lawyer and commentator Petina Gappah was impressed by how exceptionally well the young Tsvangirai writes and looked forward to seeing more from him. This came at exactly 1149hrs on 11 February 2021. Gappah is a tweeter follower of both Ruhanya and Magaisa and therefore it is very possible she had seen the tweets from the two and had read Tsvangirai’s article.
Another academic doctor, Tapiwa Mashakada, I suspect he is the one accused by Ruhanya in his tweet, believes Tsvangirai’s article is brilliant and he actually believes young Tsvangirai outclassed Magaisa.
The expressions by Ruhanya, Magaisa, Mashakada and Gappah prompted me to go back to the article and have a relook. Ruhanya and Magaisa alluded to personality of the writer and the imagined writer. Mashakada alluded to content of the article. Gappah alluded to craftsmanship of the writer. My focus particularly went to the content of the article which is what gives any writing its gravitas.
It is true that a picture of Magaisa with Jonathan Moyo, Kasukuwere and Zhuwawo did some rounds and generated a lot of debate and theories. It is true after the Mugabe exit in 2017 Magaisa’s writing revealed sympathies with the ousted side from Zanu PF. He did not condone the way Mugabe left office. For the avoidance of doubt one can simply go through his BSRs for the material time.
It is not in dispute that the G40 element had vested interest in the power dynamics in the MDC after the death of Morgan Tsvangirai. And they clearly sided with Nelson Chamisa. They backed his candidature in the 2018 elections with Mugabe himself endorsing him. It is in black and white that Jonathan Moyo said the G40 materially and financially supported Chamisa’s 2018 campaign. He even singled out the contribution made by Patrick Zhuwawo to Chamisa’s campaign.
The blending of the G40 element in the structures of the MDC Alliance is not debatable. In the Gweru Congress report, dubbed the MDC 5th National Congress Report and Resolutions, Japajapa, Bhasikiti and Mavhaire are named as members of the MDC Alliance National Executive Committee, on number 34, 38 and 101 respectively. Jaboon and Mashayayamombe are in the Executive of the party’s Harare province. There are also allegations of meetings between Chamisa and Kasukuwere teams in South Africa. Mashayamombe was the Alliance candidate for Harare South.
It is true that Chamisa purged senior members like Mwonzora, Mudzuri and Komichi to non-senior positions. Mudzuri was made Secretary for Local Government from being a Vice President, Komichi was made Secretary for presidential Affairs from being the National Chairperson and Mwonzora was made deputy secretary for International Affairs from being Secretary General. Even though they were put in the party’s Standing Committee they had Chamisa blue eyed people marking them? For Mudzuri Clifford Hlatshwayo called the shots. For Komichi Sesel Zvidzai called the shots and for Mwonzora Gladys Hlatshwayo called the shots.
When Chamisa rose to power by any means necessary including violence and constitutional abrogations Magaisa chose to keep quiet. Even to the point of being quiet to the internationally condemned Buhera fiasco of 21 February 2018 where Mwonzora and Khupe were almost burnt alive in a thatched hut thanks to wet thatch that couldn’t catch fire.
When Chamisa mounted his ill-fated famous constitutional case over the 2018 Presidential results without evidence Magaisa failed to advice. Yes it has become Magaisa’s trademark answer that Zimbabwean courts are Zanu PF captured. And its fact that Nelson Chamisa is a Law Society of Zimbabwe registered officer of the same ‘captured courts’.
Mwonzora’s political comeback is no doubt dramatic and was never anticipated.
It is fact that Magaisa tried to reargue the Mashavira case after the Supreme Court judgment of 31 March 2020, on social media, through his long winding BSRs. He called it the supreme court of public opinion. Day in day out the nation has been exposed to an attack on Mwonzora by Magaisa, Ruhanya and or Jonathan Moyo. The learned doctors have found it unpalatable to acknowledge ‘the clear intelligence and tactical tenacity that Mwonzora possesses’ and has displayed in his political manoeuvres since the demise of Morgan Tsvangirai. From day one Magaisa and Ruhanya have resorted to name calling and insulting Mwonzora publicly at any given opportunity. The latest attacks and name calling bears witness to same.
The confirmation by Magaisa that Mwonzora “pleads” with him in private communication to smoke the peace pipe is inadvertent confirmation by him of the magnanimity of Mwonzora. How many of us would attempt to have peace with someone who calls them a toad or a man without cojones, in public?
What authority does Magaisa have to say Mwonzora must never be part of any dialogue in Zimbabwe? It would have been understandable if it was in response to Mwonzora himself having said that any national dialogue must not involve certain people. Magaisa has never submitted evidence that Mwonzora has been paid by Zanu PF to destroy Chamisa. Yet day in day out, and a doctor of laws that he is, he feeds his audience with this mantra. It’s totally unpolished as young Tsvangirai says. There has never been any professional research done for Magaisa to conclude that Mwonzora will not manage even 45 000 votes come 2023. That in itself is again an inadvertent confirmation that subconsciously Magaisa acknowledges that come 2023 Mwonzora will definitely be on the ballot paper. And why the number 45 000? It’s an attempt to portray Mwonzora as a non-event as happened to Khupe’s 2018 performance. It’s also an attempt to emphasise the erroneous perception that the MDC T being led by Mwonzora is the same MDC that was led by Khupe in 2018 election. This is factual malapropism of the highest proportion. It only serves to bolster the growing opinion that Magaisa has transformed into a legal academivist recklessly shooting in the dark and blinded by an inexplicable rage against one Douglas Mwonzora. He has practically turned into a pale shadow of his former, hard hitting objective analyst, self.
Given Magaisa’s attitude towards Mwonzora and possible dialogue Tsvangirai’s fears that there could be another force behind this former objective academic may be with some substance after all. Of all people Magaisa should be reminding our people that any form of settlement that has happened in this country has been a result of some form of dialogue. Who stands to lose in the event of socio economic and political stability in Zimbabwe? Whose interests are Magaisa advancing and for what purpose?
Tsvangirai is correct that Mwonzora has always called for dialogue and tolerance. His behaviour and speeches during the constitution making process is a clear pointer to this inherent characteristic he is continuing to display. Magaisa of all people should be the first to testify to this having been under Mwonzora during the constitution making process. Our people are tired of acrimony in politics and this is why Mwonzora’s message is finding traction. It resonates with the spirit of the 2008 Global Political Agreement that gave birth to the Government of National Unity. It resonates with the contents of the Zimbabwe We Want by the churches almost a decade ago. It resonates with the contents of the recent Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) document, particularly sections 10 and 11 of same. Mwonzora has actually struck a middle of the road approach with focus on the interests of Zimbabwean people. This has found him acceptable across the political divide and it explains why he is hitting favourable headlines both in the public and private mainstream media. Magaisa and his lot only point to Mwonzora’s favourable headlines in the public media to advance their narrative that he is an appendage of Zanu PF which they accuse of controlling same. They deliberately avoid pointing out that he is also hitting favourable headlines in the private media be it the Newsday or the Daily News. It is also fact that Mwonzora’s stance has elicited positive comments from political science experts in the form of Prof Chan from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and Prof Masunungure from the University of Zimbabwe. That is not a cheap fit to be dismissed nonchalantly.
It is true Magaisa tries to belittle Mwonzora’s political operations. And like Tsvangirai says he tries hard but without success. This is so especially to those with long memories. There are clear mile stones in Mwonzora’s political operations on the Zimbabwean grand arena. I will limit them to what was mentioned by Tsvangirai for purposes of this discourse. Mwonzora successfully co-chaired the constitution making process with Paul Mangwana and Edward Mkhosi. The most, if not only, notable achievement of the Government of National Unity. His exploits are well recorded verbatim in the award winning documentary Democrats directed by the famous film director Camilla Nielson from Denmark. It is true that in 2011 at the 3rd National Congress of the MDC Mwonzora walked out of remand prison in Mutare to be elected spokesperson. It’s true that Mwonzora beat Magaisa’s idol Nelson Chamisa by close to 1000 votes at the MDC 4th National Congress. I have had time to interview the famous Gokwe man, Elias Mashavira, and it was clear Douglas Mwonzora was directing operations every step of the way. That is the hallmark of a smooth political operator.
It is public knowledge that Mwonzora beat Chamisa and team to the legal control of the MDC, control of Parliament’s opposition caucus, control of the opposition government fund and control of the party headquarters situated at 44 Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare. On 27th December 2020 Mwonzora was legally declared winner of the MDC Extraordinary congress by the independent board that ran that contest. It’s true that Mwonzora’s legal effort saw the opposition getting state funding under the political parties fund. When Mwonzora successfully steered the Copac ship the same Magaisa was his aide. We see him on the documentary Democrats assisting Mwonzora. Mwonzora is indeed an intellectual of note having co-authored a book and having written a chapter in one and has many articles to his name. I would agree with Tsvangirai that it is totally ‘preposterous and shameful for anyone in his right mind to politically and intellectually belittle a man with such successes’ to his name.
Its Magaisa’s right of opinion to suggest who should or should not be calling for dialogue. However, it defeats logic when he shows clear dictatorial bias and unconvincing arguments clothed as academic pieces. Biti and Mwonzora are both MPs and were both not presidential candidates in 2018. While Magaisa says Mwonzora has no locus standi to call for dialogue he keeps quiet when it comes to Tendai Biti. It is equally surprising when the clergy calls for same he keeps quiet. While Tsvangirai calls it ‘bigoted myopicism’ I would call it intellectual spuriousness. Especially that coming from a renowned intellectual of Magaisa’s stature.
Indeed, like him or hate him Mwonzora has brought a breath of fresh air into Zimbabwe’s acrid, if not putrid, political atmosphere. It’s not surprising he is hitting favourable commendation from different quarters. He is one politician in the country at the moment who when he opens his mouth you expect no lashing of others. He doesn’t take pot shots at other politicians to gain political mileage.
Politicians don’t have to belong to the same political party to work together and promote national development. The interests of the Zimbabwean people should be the guiding principle to national discourse. It’s not necessary to politicise media coverage without putting thought to what is being covered. If Chamisa today is positively covered by the state media it doesn’t mean he is now Zanu Pf. We have seen that happening on his positive comments about working together to fight the Covid 19 pandemic. No one said he was bought. When Mwonzora receives the same commendation we are bullied to accept he is bought and being propped up by his masters.
Opinion leaders like Magaisa and Ruhanya must lead in positive national thought processes not divisive negative national thought processes. Section 10 of the constitution of Zimbabwe is very clear that the State and every person, including juristic persons, and every institution and agency of government at every level, must promote national unity, peace and stability. Through their actions and their so called academic or political opinions some of our learned opinion leaders are blatantly violating our very national constitution with impunity clothed as freedom of expression and or conscience. They deliberately promote anarchy, disunity and instability. What Zimbabwe needs right now is working together for the betterment of all. Like the churches are saying this country needs national consensus and that can only be achieved through national dialogue which is all inclusive. That alone will see the nation forging ahead socioeconomically and politically. The attitudes of youth in mould of Vincent Tsvangirai must be nurtured and not brushed aside.