The expulsion of Munyaradzi Gwisai from the Movement for Democratic Change made headlines in almost every local newspaper, the Sunday papers- both pro-government and privately-owned, the dailies papers- all four of them- and the weekly papers as well. But surprisingly, it did not make it in the regional and international media.
His sacking was overshadowed by the latest report from the Food Support Network that half of the country’s population was threatened with starvation while President Mugabe continued to fiddle. Distribution of food was being disrupted by political interference, though of course the agencies later admitted that they did not have enough food to feed the starving population.
The sacking of Gwisai gave the pro-government press a field day, the main point which it was trying to sell being that the Movement for Democratic Change was not as democratic as it claimed because it could not tolerate divergence of opinion.
One privately-owned paper even initially hailed the sacking of Gwisai saying it was good riddance to bad rubbish, but somehow it seems to have changed its mind two days later saying his dismissal showed lack of tolerance.
What people are failing to acknowledge is that Gwisai has always had differences with leaders of the MDC, especially those who came from the labour movement, even before the launch of the party.
When the labour movement established its own paper, The Worker, he launched his own, the Socialist Worker. What is not clear is whether these differences have really been that deep to warrant such a drastic measure which threatens to split the opposition party as people will read the event differently.
As predicted by The Insider soon after the MDC lost the presidential elections in March, defeat, which the MDC has all along refused to accept, tends to demoralise. Party leaders and supporters seem demoralised because nothing seems to be going their way. The party has lost most of the by-elections held this year.
Indeed, the playing ground may not be level but people can only accept excuses for the losses up to a limit. Changes in the executive which seem to have favoured those associated with the labour movement, while sidelining academics, have started to make people talk, and perhaps, for the first time, realise that the MDC is really a coalition of different forces which in normal circumstances would not be compatible.
The only thing that has kept the MDC going was its quest for power. Everyone thought the party was going to win the presidential elections, get rid of Mugabe and perhaps they could go their separate ways once Mugabe was out of the way.
That did not happen. Now the party is in a quandary. Its slogan: chinja, has become meaningless. The electorate does not see the change that they were promised and few realise that that change can only come about when the MDC is in power and not when it is an opposition party. Some are even beginning to complain about failure to meet election promises. Worse still, the MDC leadership seems to be reluctant to accept any blunders they make.
Though they may be ignored by the international media and community, they are being played up at home, especially by the pro-government media. Though this is largely ignored, some of those who know this is “propaganda” end up swallowing the story because of the number of times it is repeated on radio, television and in the dailies.
And the more seats the MDC creates, the more it is likely to lose. Whether that is by fair or foul means is really immaterial. The ruling party is garnering for a two-thirds majority, whichever way it can get it. And if it does, it can phase out the international pariah, President Mugabe, with some dignity, by changing the constitution and putting in an executive Prime Minister, letting Mugabe stay on.