13 January 2011

Zimbabwe: Ncube Proves His Political Acumen

opinion

Love him or hate him, Welshman Ncube is an astute and shrewd boardroom planner whose ascendancy to the throne of his MDC faction uncontested at the party's third congress last week proves that and more.

His machinations in overcoming a potential split in the party on the eve of the congress proved his tactical prowess.

When everything else looked so routine with barely 24 hours to the congress - which would transform him from kingmaker to king - disgruntled party members led by party chairman Joubert Mudzumwe attempted a palace putsch.

Mudzumwe and cohorts held a press conference on Friday "calling off" the congress until after issues they raised in a petition sent to Ncube, then secretary-general, were satisfactorily solved. It was a gamble. Welshman remained cool and acted decisively, thanks to Arthur Mutambara's "support".

The plotters raised issues surrounding what they termed the failure by Ncube to hold an annual national conference, or cause the party's finances to be audited and the opaque manner in which disciplinary issues were handled in the party.

Ncube brushed them aside - as a bunch of frustrated leaders who had failed to gain any nominations for senior party position at the 3rd congress.

Mutambara played the "statesman card" and stayed above the fray while Ncube had a free run to the top.

Since the October 2005 split from the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction, Ncube has steadily built up his profile within the party and nation.

Ncube used his position as the party's chief negotiator of the Global Political Agreement and the resultant position of minister to build his profile and access the majority of the party members nationally. His party position then as secretary-general, made it easier for him to plan his next big move without much consultation with those likely to oppose his rise to the top.

As the congress drew closer, Ncube had all the influential men and women in the party in his camp. He had Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, Edwin Mushoriwa, Goodrich Chimbaira, Miriam Mushayi, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, Paul Themba-Nyathi and David Coltart, the party's bigwigs, in his corner.

Mutambara, another strategist par excellence albeit with little political experience, read the writing on the wall. He knew it was time to leave. A strategist knows when to fight and when to walk away and fight another day. The numbers were with Ncube and any fight would have been futile.

Once his plan was set, Ncube realised he had limited positions to give to his supporters and creatively suggested amendments to the party's constitution to create more portfolios. The party passed the resolution to create six new portfolios and a council of elders for the party. The game was over.

Miriam Mushayi, the new director of planning and implementation, confirmed as much when she said: "We solved the problems amicably and resolved to get positions by consensus. That is why people agreed not to contest each other."

To that end, there was no contest for the seven party top positions namely, president, deputy president, chairman, deputy chairman, secretary-general, deputy secretary-general, treasurer-general and the deputy treasurer-general.

Ncube's acceptance speech was couched in the language of a visionary national leader. He thanked his predecessor Mutambara for the way he had led the party and his influence and role in the inclusive government and the party's support for him to land the presidency before promising to stay the course Mutambara had set for the party.

To Mutambara and more importantly to himself, he said: "Take heart from the abuse you have taken from our enemies, the media who abuse you, in that there is a great deal of truth in the words of Winston Churchill: - 'The true measure of leadership is the animosity among your enemies to you'".

What remains to be seen is how well he holds on to the power he has secured.

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