I HAVE great respect for Morgan Tsvangirai because of the courage, bravery and determination that he has shown since the formation of the MDC in 1999. At a time when it was unthinkable and daunting to challenge the mighty Robert Mugabe in a presidential election, he boldly rose to the occasion and he can only count himself unlucky that he has failed to dethrone the veteran Zanu PF leader.
Since he declared his ambition to lead Zimbabwe fourteen years ago, Tsvangirai has been arrested many a time; faced a show treason trial; survived assassination attempts; his close associates and supporters were murdered. He has also lost a good number of his loved ones because of his political ambitions. He has been tortured several times at the hands of the police and has been humiliated by the public media. Despite all this, Tsvangirai has fought, is fighting and vows to continue fighting until he becomes the president of Zimbabwe.
A man of modest educational credentials, Tsvangirai has demonstrated how determination and courage can lift one from being a nonentity to becoming a global figure. I respect and admire him for his achievements so far in the struggle for change in the country. However, I strongly feel that he has done what he could and can do no more. After his heavy defeat in the recent elections, several voices have questioned Tsvangison’s ability to unseat Zanu PF and I think these voices have a point. The man needs to step aside and let new blood take the party to the Promised Land.
The following are my ten reasons why Morgan Tsvangirai must relinquish the leadership of the MDC:
1: Dictatorial tendencies
The major reason why the MDC failed to remove Zanu PF goes back to the (in)famous October 12, 2005 spilt which gave birth to the MDC –T, MDC-(M)N and later the MDC-99. Despite what Tsvangirai tried to make us believe in his autobiography, the main reason for that split was, to a large extent, due to dictatorial tendencies on his part. Several debates can be held on the issue but the bottom line is that the schism was a result of dictatorial tendencies and Tsvangirai’s failure to deal with intra-party democracy. One more day that he continues to lead the party is one more step towards its eventual demise.Advertisement
After the July 31 loss, Tsvangirai should have initiated debate about leadership renewal himself so that, if the “people” indeed want him to stay, they would have said so. It took bold men like Roy Bennett, Elias Mudzuri and others to have the issue openly discussed. The question of succession needs to be discussed openly with no fear or favour. In the 90’s people like Tekere, Zvobgo, Mavhaire among others, were censured when they dared raise the issue of succession within Zanu PF and the same cannot happen in the MDC.
As a leader who claims to be democratic, Tsvangirai should not only allow the issue to be discussed openly, but also be prepared to prove that he is still popular and has the “people’s mandate” to lead. Tsvangirayi has demonstrated dictatorial tendencies therefore he needs to go sooner, rather than later. The imposition of candidates which threatened to split the party several times, also points to Tsvangirai’s dictatorial tendencies.
2: Moral principle
Having led the party for the past 14 years; having gone through five elections; having been Prime Minister of the country in a coalition government for four years and still having failed to depose Zanu PF, it is time for Tsvangirai to take a break. His claim that the elections have been rigged since 2000 cannot help his cause. Whether elections were manipulated or whatever, it is time for Tsvangirai to step down and give an opportunity to a new individual. In the words of Elias Mudzuri, Tsvangirai should step down now and be the “Mandela” of the MDC.
If he steps down, his Western backers can gladly award him the Nobel peace prize and he can be invited to speak at some lectures about peace, democracy and human rights at some universities in Europe and the US. Generally speaking, Tsvangison has overstayed his usefulness and, simply put, he has done all he can and can do nothing more.
3: Damaged personal reputation
A leader, especially an aspiring president, his private life is as important as his public life. A leader is therefore judged by the way he handles his private and family affairs, especially his sexual relations. He can get good advice from Bill Clinton knows more on that one. Tsvangirai’s sexual and marriage scandals have left even his boldest praise-singers wondering whether the man is indeed fit to rule. Talk about Loretta, Locardia, Nosipho, Elizabeth and probably others that didn’t make it to the front pages of newspapers. His scandalous love affairs did well to dent his reputation and raised a lot questions about his judgment and fitness for office. And rightly so too!
Voters ask themselves if they can entrust their future into the hands of a person who struggles to make important decisions such as choosing a life partner. Voters ask themselves if a man who engages in multiple and simultaneous sexual affairs apparently without practicing safe sex in this HIV and Aids era can indeed lead them. Tsvangison needs to do the right thing by stepping down because his personal scandals put the voters in a very difficult situation.
If there is one thing that Tsvangirai has consistently demonstrated over the years, it is his lack of decisiveness. A leader and most importantly one aspiring president, is judged by his decision making abilities. Over the years, Tsvangirai has made some reckless and contradictory statements that have often come back to haunt him. His decision making leaves a lot to be desired. On numerous occasions he informed voters that he was going to boycott elections only to turn around and participate in the votes. Joyce Mujuru once mocked him and said he should be called “Boycott” Tsvangirai.
Patrick Chinamasa once pointed out that the MDC-T leader is an unpredictable man who indicates left only to turn right. Christopher Dell, the former US ambassador to Zimbabwe also described him as a “brave man, largely a democrat but not open to advice and indecisive” in documents released by WikiLeaks. Thanks to Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, Tsvangirai now knows what his ‘friends’ in the US really think about him.
In typical fashion, in 2012 he agreed with Mugabe and came out guns blazing against LGBT rights. However, in a space of a few months he made an about turn and said he supported those rights. In the rundown to the July 31 elections, he expressed concerns with regard to the lack of key reforms which he said compromised the fairness of the vote but he went ahead to participate in the same elections. On the 30th of July 2013 he addressed a press conference beaming with confidence and said he would win resoundingly only to wake up on the 31st telling us the election was a sham. Clearly, it is very difficult to trust this man with the presidency of our beloved country.
Waiting in the shadows … Tsvangirai with leadership rivals Tendai Biti and Elias Mudzuri