MDC-T counts cost of downgrading diaspora party structures

Tsvangirai reacts to jeers from his audience at Southwark Cathedral

Foresight is a great thing for policymakers to possess. Whilst ensconced in the luxury of the Inclusive Government, the MDC-T thought it best to downgrade all its foreign assemblies from the status of constituent provinces into associate assemblies.

Predictably, the move caused no small disquiet among the party faithful in the diaspora, not least because of their sustained material contribution to the party during the struggle years. This came on the heels of the then newly installed Prime Minister's unpopular call for a reverse exodus to the mother country when he addressed Zimbabweans at London's Southwark Cathedral on his maiden trip to the UK after assuming the role in 2009. He was roundly booed, thereafter deciding to turn his back on what he deemed a prodigal flock.

Fast forward a short five years later, and the party is not only out of the comfort of both the inclusive government and the self-assuredness of imminent exclusive control of the Zimbabwean state and its resources, but also out of favour with erstwhile western benefactors and seriously out of pocket.

It is the latter reality that has revolutionised thinking inside the MDC-T on party financing, and in recent days we've seen party officials calling on their rank and file to 'fund the struggle'. Ecocash (a popular mobile money transfer facility) numbers soliciting donations are being advertised widely. Which is all good. Indeed, for democracy to develop organically, it must be funded locally. But we will, for the time being, set aside the circumstances through which the MDC-T came by this wisdom and return to the theme of foresight in policymaking.

As Econet prepares to launch its Ecocash facility in the UK and South Africa before spreading it out to all major diaspora centres, wouldn't that have worked wonders as enabling infrastructure for the MDC-T to collect membership dues and donations from its external branches, whose support is pertinent at this juncture in the party's life? It would sound rather disingenuous and hollow now, wouldn't it, if Morgan Tsvangirai were to return to the UK on a charm offensive to tell his orphaned party structures that they're actually a loved child, the apple of his eye,even!

But then again, that's the price of not thinking far enough when making policy. Nothing explains the MDC-T's decision to downgrade its foreign structures than the party's participation in government and the resultant belief that this was where they would now operate from henceforth, with power-sharing soon to be followed as default procedure by full blown control of the Zimbabwean state - and its resources. Except that today, the party's reality is that of imminent full blown bankruptcy.