President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday released a statement congratulating newly-elected MDC-T president Douglas Mwonzora and expressing hope that the two will collaborate.
Mnangagwa’s message to Mwonzora has however stirred controversy with some political commentators of the view that the development is unprecedented as it is unusual for an official from the ruling party to speak so highly of the leader of the MDC.
Other observers were, however, quick to point out that Mnangagwa also congratulated his nemesis MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa when he assumed the party’s presidency.
Former Herald political editor Tichaona Zindoga has dismissed the comparison, saying it is “false equivalence” to draw parallels between Mnangagwa’s congratulatory message to Mwonzora vis-à-vis the one to Chamisa. Zindoga posted on Twitter:
Some folks are trying to insult our intelligence by equating this [Mnangagwa’s congratulatory message to Chamisa] message by ]Mnangagwa] to [Chamisa], to ED’s gushing, extended peroration made with respect to Mwonzora’s rise as the regime’s preferred opposition leader.
First, the above text is a dry, formal courtesy, not going beyond 140 characters. On the other hand, ED did a whole thread of 5 Tweets, more than 230 words and some 1300 characters! He clearly felt a sense of occasion.
Secondly, it is clear that the intentions & values of the two messages are different. This is ultimately seen in different tones. In Chamisa’s case to communicate an uneasy, brittle truce of rivals; in Mwonzora’s an extension of patronage & paternalism towards a subaltern.
Thirdly, [Mnangagwa] in endorsing [Mwonzora] arrogated himself the role of final arbiter not just in legal processes involving opposition but also an arbiter of the quality of opposition in the country. Mwonzora is his ideal opposition, he told us.
Lastly, [Mnangagwa] framing and conceptualisation of working with opposition as a “collaboration”, barring any limitations in language, betrays Mwonzora’s role as immoral and open to abuse – without any scruples from him, of course, because of he got what he wanted!
Former University of Zimbabwe Political Science Professor, Jonathan Moyo agrees with Zindoga that Mnangagwa’s message to Mwonzora is not congratulatory but an endorsement. He also wrote on Twitter:
It is disingenuous and a false equivalence to compare @‘s one-tweet 2018 pre-election “congratulation” of @ with his five-tweet 2020 thread “endorsement” of @ . A congratulation and an endorsement are worlds apart. Stop making false equivalencies!