Thirty Not Out! To God Be The Glory.

These are my musings on my 30th Birthday on 16 October 2014.

From today I am no longer eligible for the Forbes 30 under 30 list! This is a listing of 30 “young disruptors, innovators and entrepreneurs under 30 who are impatient to change the world.” I have always admired this listing though I have never really aspired to be on it. So I have turned 30 just as I have enrolled for a DPhil at the globally prestigious University of Oxford. Though it seems like a coincidence it is a strong statement of intent with regards to the path I have taken. When you join the institution they tell you that it is a world class university tackling world scale problems. At a farewell in Harare organized by good friends McDonald Lewanika and Washington Katema another friend, Kuda Makore recited Psalms 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders’ labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” The verse served as a reminder of where I have come from as much as it will be handy as I face the world and seek to contribute to its transformation.

Today I was reading Kanye West’s interview with GQ magazine and he was saying “Most people are just satisfied with, ‘It’s good.’ Most people are satisfied at a 10, or something. It’s not to just stop at 10. You know, 10 is ground zero; perfection is ground zero. We need to take things to a genius level…” It therefore dawned on me that 30 years of age and all its accomplishments is ground zero. I now need to take things to a higher level. I have to pull down the limits and boundaries. One of my classmates is a young Zimbabwean, Simukai Chigudu. He is a medical doctor reading for DPhil in International Development with a particular interest in the political economy of health delivery systems.  Now that is someone who could have easily settled for medical practice but is inspired to impact the health delivery system in its entirety.

Finally I have a new follower on twitter, Kûndái Mus @Kundeezy. She calls herself a “Businesswoman| Farmer| Tobacco + piggery consultant| Mycologist| Entrepreneur| Boss.” She has a thriving agri-business that specialises in mushroom production amongst other farm produce. Her positivism reminded me that we should be driven by ambitions and not necessarily the operating environment.

So as I have turned 30 I give it up to God, I am going to tear down the limits and boundaries and I will pursue my ambitions relentlessly!

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MDC-T Leadership renewal: Putting new wine in old wine-skins?

Mark 2:22 “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.”

The debate on leadership renewal within the MDC-T has been reduced to calls for the immediate resignation of its party leader Morgan Tsvangirai. These calls have come from two distinct groups of individuals; those who have been disillusioned and frustrated by the party’s unexpected but avoidable failures and those who feel let down by the party as they viewed its likely successes as opportunities to reclaim their lost economic interests.  The latter group has been the loudest and represented by former white farmers such as Ben Freeth, Ian Kay and Roy Bennett. Whilst I agree that it is high time Morgan Tsvangirai hands over presidency of the party I totally disagree with the timing of such a move. In as much as leadership renewal is key to party reorganization, recalling or resignation of the party president should not kick start the process in the case of MDC-T; rather change of presidency has to be the final part of the party’s reorganization.

Morgan Tsvangirai, speaking to reporters in Jo...

Morgan Tsvangirai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thrusting a new leadership onto the MDC-T in its current state is tantamount to pouring new wine in old wine skins, they will certainly crack and the new wine will be wasted. The losses of the MDC-T can be attributed to its internal autocratic practices and lack of proper organization. So should you expect a new leadership to thrive within such a set up and deliver transformation to the broader citizenry? A revamp of the party’s organization should precede any leadership renewal. The disillusioned lot should therefore appreciate that Morgan Tsvangirai has a central and leading role to play in the reorganization of the party and he should only handover power at the party’s congress in 2016.

Party reorganization includes a major shakeup of the top leadership, a review of the party’s ideology, a rethink of the party’s allegiances and alliances and reconsideration of the party’s funding sources. The reorganization of the MDC-T requires a stabilizing figure who can keep the forces together through the internal change process and such a figure can only be Morgan Tsvangirai given that he still enjoys support amongst the party structures and retains legitimate authority within the party. A new party president cannot lead a reorganization process as their immediate priority will be to build legitimacy and consensus around their leadership. This is not to say the task of reorganizing the party should start and end with the incumbent president. The Secretary General of the party and a likely successor to Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti has a bigger role to play in reorganizing the party with Tsvangirai coming in to provide stability and leadership to the process. Part of the leadership Tsvangirai has to provide in the reorganization process is to manage factionalism and reigning in ambitious party leaders who cost the party due to undue interference with party structures and mismanagement of primary elections for selfish ends.

The MDC-T has been forced into survival mode by Zanu PF and it serves no good to let the party president fight for his survival at the expense of the party’s survival. In as much as a revamp of the party is needed, Morgan Tsvangirai should be revamped last when he has successfully led the revamping process.

Justice Chiweshe’s ruling a politico-legal fig leaf!

Justice Chiweshe’s ruling a politico-legal fig leaf!

The judgment delivered by the Judge President George Chiweshe is a politico-legal fig leaf meant to save President Mugabe from further embarrassment. Two facts have been established through the court process: the first one is that the life of the present Parliament shall end on June 29, 2013 and; the second one is that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai should be involved in determining the date for harmonized elections. The second fact is a slap in the face of President Mugabe and his Zanu PF protégés since they are pushing for early elections with minimal or no reforms. Metaphorically a fig leaf is something that you use to try to hide an embarrassing fact or problem like what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden when they used fig leaves to cover their nudity after eating the fruit from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. Hence Justice Chiweshe deliberately dwells on the first fact so as to deflect attention from the politically significant second fact. Zanu PF’s propagandists and spin doctors have tried to give the nation an impression that President Mugabe is ubiquitous and he would unilaterally proclaim the date for harmonized elections. We are therefore keen to see how Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will negotiate an election date which accommodates sufficient reforms for a free and fair election.

Uhuru Kenyatta’s tiki-taka politics won the day!

The recent election of Jubilee Coalition leader, Uhuru Kenyatta as the fourth President of Kenya has forced many of us to retrospectively look at how he defied the ‘odds’ rather than focus on what went wrong for CORD’s Raila Odinga a supposedly hot favorite before the election. It is only when you take a closer look at Kenyatta’s campaign trail that you are grudgingly mesmerized by his political style which can be likened to the ‘tiki-taka’ footballing style of Barcelona Football Club and the Spanish national team.

The tiki taka style of play is characterized by possessing the ball for large portions of the game, moving the ball quickly from one player to the next and in and out of the opponent, breaking them down with short passes. Essentially, the key idea with tiki taka is to always keep the ball away from your opponent and then to deliver that killer pass to score a goal.

The Jubilee Coalition, born out of an International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment and led by ICC indictees Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto applied the tiki-taka style in their campaign- ‘keep the ball when you have it and get it back quickly when you don’t’. They ensured that they became omnipresent by being central to the national political sentiment as most public discourses evolved around the suitability of their candidature rather than the currency of their political rival, Raila Odinga.  Reckless sentiments by top western diplomats such as Johnnie Carson and the ICC indictment in itself aided their appeal to the electorate. However it is Kenyatta’s witty and skillful manipulation of the ICC indictment and the West’s sentiments towards his candidature that broadened his appeal beyond his strongholds and allowed him to significantly claw into Odinga’ s strongholds. This is typical of the tiki-taka football style were short and accurate passes ensure that you maintain possession whilst at the same time tearing apart your opponents defense. Kenyatta’s response to the ICC indictment was and still remains different from the afro-radicalism which we have seen in the likes of Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF. Rather he persuasively appealed to a new generation of Kenyans who believe in Pan-Africanism premised on a balance between self-determination and loyalty to the global community.

Kenyatta, as part of his tiki-taka style of politics set up a broad campaign team beyond the Jubilee Coalition which not only mobilized youth to register but also implored them to go out and vote in large numbers. As such there was a higher voter turnout in Kenyatta’s strongholds as compared to voter turnout in Odinga’s strongholds. Kenyatta was also able to harvest more votes in Odinga’s strongholds than the numbers harvested by Odinga in Kenyatta’s strongholds. Kenyan analysts highlighted “Kenyatta’s use of modern tools like social media and slogans such as ‘Dunda na Uhuru’ (Dance with Uhuru) which appealed to young people.” Kenyatta’s speeches show humility and magnanimity in victory whilst at the same time reaffirming self-assertion of the Kenyan people by invoking a sense of pride which was lost in 2007.