Sekai Holland responds to Chaibva article
By Sekai Holland
Our politics as a people must mature for us to walk away from Rhodesia where many, including Robert Gabriel himself in statehouse still seem to be stuck to the new Zimbabwe, our destination. When someone writes their view on any subject we must learn in the new Zimbabwe we aspire towards, to respect that view as sincere.
We must strive to learn to address issues raised, fairly and squarely, without character assassination! The current 'kusvibisana' ukungcolisana' 'to soil one another' Mugabe Harare politics will not take us far on the very thorny, still long political road to our new Zimbabwe. Let us learn to debate points made, give one another respect for the views we hold, without suspecting that there are ulterior motives why people hold views they do.
Let us appreciate our background. We as a society have lived in an unhealthy, smothering environment, where authorities in our country have no respect for the truth. We have been subjected to and fed with hearsay, rumour, innuendo and downright lies by our ruling party for nearly 3 decades. They have deprived us as a population of factual data and information to empower us to make informed decisions on any subject, including ones that touch our own very lives.
Until we understand this reality and begin to talk to one another as people, as citizens of one country which we all love and want to work for, for our own enjoyment, then we as Zimbabweans prolong our time of living in the current crisis, the unprecedented forced emigration. We postpone the opportunities to really hear fellow citizens' voices, always clear, to guide us safely to best solutions for our way forward. I have a simple explanation about 12 October, 2005, which I have related to all and sundry as I myself sought guidance to understand what took place on that day.
During the time of the crucial October 12, 2005, I was in Bulawayo after our Mother died on August 25, 2005 and as the eldest in our family had to stay for months with all my siblings after her burial to settle issues after such a life changing event for families. Basically my story is that late one night around 11 pm, on October 10, 2005, I received an unexpected call from Mr Nyoni of our Bulawayo MDC office. His message was that I collect an air ticket for Harare the next morning. That 11 October morning I was at the Bulawayo MDC office early to collect my ticket for a Harare flight on October 12 as per our conversation.
On arrival we met outside and I was told that our Secretary General had advised that I catch the Blue Arrow bus on October 12 at my own cost to be reimbursed in Harare! In my state of mourning, I quickly realized that the usual internal party nonsense I was having a rest from during this period was still at work. Without pursuing the issue I told the secretary who came out to my car outside our MDC Bulawayo office to give me the message that I would not get to the meeting in Harare on time as the Blue Arrow bus she was advised to tell me to catch, would get to Harare in the afternoon after the October 12 meeting was over.
I drove to Botswana immediately for the night as it was our family shopping day for household supplies. The morning of October 12, I rang the Secretary of Policy and Research Trudy Stevenson to ask if I could cast my vote by proxy. She kindly explained to me the very detailed legal manner in which I had to do that. In short I had to send a signed copy of my vote by fax. An email would not do as my signature would not appear on that.
The vote was simple, I was advised. It was whether we would as MDC participate in the Senate elections or not.
So it was that when Trudy in passing asked me which way I intended to vote, I stated that it was my understanding from our MDC sitting Parliamentarians at various gatherings that I attended before our family tragedy struck, that the senate was too expensive on the people, that we as a Party would vote 'No'. I believed that this was the Party position. I must say at that time I was surprised that Stevenson even asked me that question. We ended our conversation amicably as she herself did not say anything further to my reply. There was a problem with a working fax machine in both Francistown and Harare at that early hour.
I rang the Women's Assembly Secretary Lucia Matibenga to see if she could go to where there was a working fax machine to receive my vote in fax from me in Francistown where I was ringing her from, as per our Policy and Research Secretary's constitutional set rules. Matibenga advised me to ring the President and talk to him first, so that she could wait in his reception area early to receive my fax in our President's office. I rang the President who to my surprise was adamant that there was no need for me to cast a vote as there was not going to be a vote taken at the meeting that morning.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) he reminded me works through 'Consensus'. I told him that it was my understanding from my colleagues in the NEC that I cast my vote by proxy for the vote to be taken at that morning's meeting. Inspite of his advice I wrote out my vote against 'Participation' following the consistent advice of our Parliamentarians in the NEC and in the Parliament itself. Eddie Cross had also written an excellent article on the subject along the same lines. I was later advised that proxy votes were not counted in the October 12 meeting. Grace Kwinjeh our Brussels representative and other colleagues abroad sent their votes through my Harare computer and asked these to be taken to Harvest House on voting day.
Basically the 'kusvibisana' 'ukungcolisana' 'soil one another' Mugabe Harare politics has to stop. Zimbabweans have tried in a dignified and organized manner to find the way forward as civil society, hence the formation of the MDC. We must respect this process of sorting ourselves out through 'debate', 'consensus' and 'consensus building' among ourselves and as a society. We must continue to find our way to understand roles played by one another in different situations on our long painful journey from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, to get our bearings right and get home.
The 'MDC top 6' was not, and where they as individuals in politics have gone to in their separate ways have not displayed 'gender consciousness'. Women are regarded and treated as juniors. Most male leaders in Zimbabwe in most of our work situations/places require education as did western males (who were educated by their Feminist movement over decades) to recognize this terrible short coming, for us to get our political settings right. Women at least are beginning to overcome obstacles in our way to our own emancipation. The Matibenga case is a litmus test for men and women and how we interpret why what is happening, is being done in this manner, we must allow to be heard without insults on personalities.
Deal with the issues raised. I was raised in a family where the Ndebele proverb was always put before us when we faced a problem, and that was: Kwakhiwa ngomlomo - kuwiswa ngomlomo Muromo unovaka - muromo unoputsa (Shona) Your mouth/words build/s – your mouth/words destroy/s (English) This positive proverb is an important pointer to how we should conduct our work to solve our national crisis. As I continue to receive intensive treatment of the serious Mugabe regime inflicted injuries with colleagues on March 11, 2007, here in Australia, I am sad that the political quagmire that led to our torture continues. Encouraging however is that able women and men are urgently working on strategies to get us over this prolonged crisis.
My contribution to our own internal crisis has led to a questioning of my intentions. That is sad. As an MDC Founding Mother I too without failure have continued to pursue an understanding of what the real cause of the October 12, 2005, departure of founding leader Gibson Sibanda and the colleagues he brought with him into the MDC, as per the agreement when the Party was founded. As a matter of fact, when I was admitted to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, as I lay delirious with pain the first issue in my mind was to invite colleagues that left on October 12, 2005 to my hospital bed to tell me the reasons why they left MDC. I am grateful I did so because with the present Matibenga debacle in our own faction, I am able to remember the response given to me so carefully then by Professor Welshman Ncube when he accepted my invitation to Milpark hospital.
His answer at that point to me sounded nonsensical. With our experience today I have a place to begin to understand the dynamics in our party among the male leadership in the last 8 years. Gabriel Chaibva's response to my statement is a typical blind point scoring approach without delving into the points made. As a society we must learn quickly that each person in politics has a role that they perform. Some of us do so honestly. I have consistently invaded old friends and colleagues in their offices to pursue old political questions to understand my own way forward. Each of us must understand that our personal perspective of specific events is not necessarily the correct one.
I learned that years ago. Depending on where people are when historic events such as October 12, 2005, take place, our perspectives differ, hence the need for constant dialogue among ourselves as activists, to get to the truth of events that we participate in, so that we make principled and improved decisions for our progress each time. To me, forever, the tragic events of October 12, 2005 are associated with our Mother's passing. I was not in Harare on that historic day to participate in that debate and sad outcome. I have concluded from subsequent conversations with colleagues who were present in that meeting that my presence would not have changed that outcome.
Like many Zimbabweans I have been sad that that day October 12, 2005 took place. It is not an event for point scoring, but one we as a people should strive to comprehend so that as a society we empower ourselves to move on together, with direction. From the improving quality of debate recently my hopes are that we will eventually get it right through enlightened dialogue. We must talk to one another as equals, with respect for one another, for us to move on, to liberate ourselves as Zimbabweans.
Sekai Holland Sydney , Australia . 16 November 2007
MRS HOLLAND WAS RESPONDING TO THE LETTER BELOW!!!
Tell the truth, Sekai Holland
EDITOR — We are tempted to write by Sekai Holland’s article, which appeared in several publications including The Financial Gazette (November 1-7 2007): “Male chauvinism and MDC’s Top Six”.In one paragraph Madame Holland said Ms Lucia Matibenga and Nelson Chamisa had saved Morgan Tsvangirai by mobilising consultative meetings around the country “... when Tsvangirai was nearly toppled on October 12, 2005 by his top six colleagues...”Such an irresponsible statement coming from Madame Holland especially as she was privy to the developments, which occurred on October 12, 2005, shocks us.
Mrs Holland knows, as much as we do that the October 12, 2005 debacle was caused by none other than Tsvangirai himself and that there was absolutely no attempt whatsoever, real or imagined to topple him.
It is people like her who continued to feed Tsvangirai with the false notion that October 12 was a boardroom coup and have in fact peddled such imaginary thoughts.For the purpose of this discourse it may be helpful to revisit a few facts about what happened thereon. The founding fathers and mothers, daughters and sons of the MDC had realised that democratic deficits in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular had been a result of the absence of a culture of democratic collective leadership. Leaders had been allowed to make unilateral decisions and to this end they employ violence, tribalism and intimidation as tools for political organisation. In an attempt to curb this cancer, the top six of the MDC was charged with the responsibility to guide the leader in their collective and in their majority of opinion.
This collective spirit of the top six would then form the basis of action by the president at every turn. On October 12, the top six were unanimous in their resolution to participate in the senatorial elections except for Tsvangirai alone who chose to present a minority view to the National Council.
In the spirit of the founding principle of the MDC, the simple thing for Tsvangirai to do would have been to recommend the collective decision of the Top Six, which was to participate in the elections. He had no choice but alas, he thought otherwise. However, his minority view to boycott elections was resoundingly defeated 33-31 and then Tsvangirai stood up and declared “… I don’t care if the party breaks into pieces. We will not participate in the elections.” It is not the intention of this statement to interrogate the wisdom of why he did that.
That matter remains in the domain of another interrogation. Tsvangirai then walked out and refused to recognise all attempts to reconcile the decision of the National Council with him. We warned then of the dangers of politicians succumbing to the whims of a leader who clearly was lost and was contemptuous of the party’s procedures, institutional structures and the party constitution. We advised against being pliable to a leader who was showing total disrespect of party’s founding values and principles.
Such leaders were reminiscent of Africa’s despots. It would be very interesting for Madam Sekai Holland to demonstrate how the Top Six had “nearly toppled” Tsvangirai. We suspect that Madam Holland has a very short memory and poor recollection of events. We note with grave concern that Mai Holland had been one of those who had chosen to ignore and had completely discarded the MDC constitution and rules of procedure. We are therefore not entirely surprised by her remarks.
The Top Six of the MDC comprised of people of high integrity and loyalty to the party’s values and principles and they would not have attempted unconstitutional means of dealing with problems in the party. These were deputy president Gibson Sibanda; chairman the late Isaac Matongo, secretary general Honorable Welshman Ncube, deputy secretary general Gift Chimanikire and treasurer general Fletcher Dulini.
If Holland is now experiencing problems with Tsvangirai, let her not try to bring in people who had nothing to do with the behaviour of Tsvangirai. Vakapembedza gona nerinobata mai! (They celebrated witchcraft, which then implicated their mother!)
Please let us learn to tell the truth. We wish to state categorically that it is not our intention to be embroiled in the Matibenga saga but we shall continue to make corrections whenever necessary.
Gabriel ChaibvaSecretary for Information and Publicity, MDC.