THE Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, previously seen by many as a vibrant opposition and a refreshing alternative to Zanu PF, is undergoing a gradual and catastrophic decline.
There are only two reasons for this political disaster. The first concerns the MDC-T’s election promises which have gone largely unfulfilled. The second, which is a bit ironic, is that the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe have made it absolutely impossible for the MDC-T to prove its worth as a force for economic good.
Let’s look at each of these in turn. In 2008, Morgan Tsvangirai and his associates made a host of promises in their election manifesto including the promise to restore the agricultural sector to its full capacity. They committed themselves to ensuring decent standards of life through, amongst other means, job creation, reasonable salaries and the participation of women and young people in the economic activities of Zimbabwe.
They promised, too, to adhere to principles of good governance, transparency and accountability and to stamp out violence as a means of winning elections.
Yet, if the evidence of the last couple of years is anything to go by, the verdict must be that the Prime Minister’s party has not lived up to its word. In other words, Tsvangirai and his people lied to the nation.
There are a few reasons connected to this woeful failure to deliver. Firstly, the MDC-T joined the coalition government with virtually no expertise in governance. They were blind to the realities and challenges of real leadership, the difference between what is desirable and what is actually possible.
Furthermore, instead of sticking to the core business of being in government, which is to serve the best interests of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwean people, MDC-T officials saw the inclusive government as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to feather their own nests. With their hands in the till, issues of transparency and accountability were sidelined.
Of course this shameful conduct was not easy to discern while the party was still in opposition but thanks to the inclusive government, voters have finally learnt the shocking truth about the duplicity, thievery and moral bankruptcy of the MDC-T.
Moreover, Tsvangirai’s claim, so eloquently expressed during the 2008 elections, that his party represents peace, tolerance and harmony, has been exposed as untrue and baseless. It has slowly been replaced by the growing perception that the MDC-T in fact thrives on violent behaviour and intolerance.
Several examples exist to corroborate this. Not so long ago, a police officer died in cold blood, allegedly at the hands of MDC-T supporters. The party’s own gatherings, including a major conference in Bulawayo last year, have been marred by violent clashes.
Recently, Tendai Biti declared that his party would fight back if provoked. This attempt to disguise the MDC-T as the victim rather than the perpetrator of violence is laughable. Biti can put lip stick on Morgan Tsvangirai and call him Mandela, but he is still Morgan Tsvangirai.
The MDC-T also promised to scrap unneeded and unnecessary journeys abroad in order to guard against abuse of state funds. This sounded good at the time. Yet on entering government, this election commitment, like many others, was ditched.
Tendai Biti, one of the worst offenders in this regard, has indeed acknowledged that most of the journeys embarked on by MDC-T officials have yielded nothing of benefit to the country. This dreadful failure to deliver on election promises has not just disappointed MDC-T supporters, it has caused their trust and confidence to evaporate.
Now let’s consider the issue of sanctions. Tsvangirai’s party has repeatedly stated the lie that the only reason it wants the sanctions removed is because President Mugabe and Zanu PF have used the punitive measures to hide behind their lack of managerial skills. This is preposterous.
The unvarnished truth is that the MDC-T wants the sanctions removed because, contrary to public opinion, the sanctions are real and they have been a huge impediment to the fulfilment of their election commitments.
Sources close to what transpired in Brussels last Monday, where the European Union was meeting to consider the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe, tell me that this reality helped guide the European Union in its decision to lift only those sanctions that affect direct aid to the government of Zimbabwe. It was an attempt; I’m reliably informed, to strike a balance between improving MDC-T’s electoral prospects and keeping Zanu PF on the run. But this self-serving stance might not be of much use to the MDC-T. The damage has already been done.
Indeed, most Zimbabweans now believe that, unless there is overwhelming proof to the contrary, it is safe to assume that whenever Tsvangirai’s lips are moving, he is lying.
Accordingly, it is perhaps not going too far to say that the MDC-T had better enjoy whatever remains of its time in the inclusive government for, by the end of next year, it will be reviled and hated and might even be nicknamed the Movement for Deceptive Change.