MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has issued a veiled rebuke of critics who question his lack of solid academic credentials saying leadership is “not about degrees” but rather, “influence.”
While he did not make an explicit personal allusion, Tsvangirai appeared to talk not only in general but individual terms when he addressed a party provincial meeting in Mutare on Friday.
“Leadership is about influence, it’s not about how many degrees you have,” Tsvangirai told his supporters.
“It’s good to be educated, but be educated with a purpose... Once you elect a leadership, you should have confidence in them. We waste our efforts looking for the negatives.”
Equipped only with a moderate education, Tsvangirai has found himself being subjected to derision by some of his political opponents especially in Zanu PF who brand him a “tea boy” lacking basic schooling to lead the country.
Some senior officials in his own party have expressed similar sentiments, albeit in hushed tones.
MDC leader Welshman Ncube, a professor, has also made Tsvangirai’s educational achievement an issue on the campaign trail, telling supporters that the former trade unionist - now Prime Minister - lacks the wisdom to rescue the country from its enduring economic troubles.
Ncube was quoted as telling a rally in Redcliff last year: “Business has collapsed, factories ruined and schools have all but collapsed, and these require a leadership with vision and capacity, which only this party has, not a tea boy.
“Tsvangirai cannot perform miracles and solve problems of our nation. That era ended with Jesus who performed them a long time ago.”
The MDC-T leader has however, faced down his critics arguing that education alone is not enough for effective leadership. President Robert Mugabe, he argues, has several educational degrees but all he has achieved is to destroy Zimbabwe’s economy.
Tsvangirai urged delegates at the Mutare meeting to shun party divisions and unite as the country heads towards the next general election.
He urged his party councillors to shun corruption, telling them to change the “narrative of political governance set by Zanu PF.”
Tsvangirai vowed a rigorous vetting process for council candidates.
“Some of the councillors have damaged the image of this party, and this time we want to set qualifications for councilors who we will give performance benchmarks,” he said. We have zero-tolerance to corruption. No, No, No, No to corruption.”
Some MDC-T-controlled urban councils have been accused of corrupt tendencies, and the party has responded by firing a number of councillors.
“Our differences [with Zanu PF] must be like sunrise and sunset. As MDC, we want to create a modern, democratic and developmental state. Our governance should give hope to the people,” Tsvangirai added.