ZANU PF is convinced that Morgan Tsvangirai’s ignorance is more than enough to give them everlasting political survival. President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF now seem to believe that ruling in perpetuity can succeed on the basis of the weaknesses in the MDC under Tsvangirai’s leadership and not on the basis of the implementation of their own policies.
Tsvangirai’s leadership has been riddled with weakness, ineptitude, erroneous judgment and indecisiveness. These weaknesses are evidenced by numerous incidences where the MDC has ended up being seriously disadvantaged and losing political ground. The gravity of this tragedy was witnessed during the tenure of the inclusive government as the MDC ended up being equalized with Zanu PF, owing to the leadership deficiencies.
The agenda for change was abandoned as Tsvangirai became cozy with Mugabe while enjoying pancakes and tea at State House. The militancy, insistence and clarity on critical issues, including the negotiated outstanding issues, were neglected as the MDC president sought to address his personal issues at the expense of the democratisation agenda.
One lesson we have learnt in studying the political developments in Zimbabwe is that alternative movements are built within particular national contexts and often these movements reproduce and assimilate aspects of the undemocratic culture they are attempting to challenge and transform.
The findings show this process has been too apparent in the crisis that has debilitated this movement’s problems of accountability, violence and organizational failure leading to an uncomfortable similarity between the politics of the MDC and that of Zanu PF. Part of the explanation for this disturbing trend has been that the repressive conditions under which the opposition has operated have necessitated a certain measure of commandism in opposition structures.
It is really sad that the MDC has been placed firmly on this path with undesirable consequences. The MDC has become like Zanu PF. Violence is now being used against fellow members. Deputy national treasurer Elton Mangoma, who was arrested for saying Mugabe must go, is now being vilified for exercising his democratic right to say Tsvangirai must also consider stepping down.
For me, who has worked close to Tsvangirai for some years, I know his weaknesses and strengths at first hand. I know how much we have concealed for this man to portray him for what he is not. Take the example of violence. All commissions of violence have pointed at him and his close aides who have now come back to haunt this organisation. The split with Welshman Ncube and his team was partly influenced by this violent streak in this man.Advertisement
His biggest weakness is his indecisiveness and error of judgment. The case involving numerous women in his life and the manner he dealt with them glaringly exposes this weakness. The manner in which he was dribbled left, right and centre by Mugabe before and during the tenure of the inclusive also confirms his true indecisive nature.
The issue of his house is revealing. After the MDC pulled out of government, Mugabe asked his lieutenants what could be done to appease the MDC. He was informed that Tsvangirai’s main bone of contention was not the Roy Bennett case but the issue of his house. This is when Mugabe instructed the then Governor of the Reserve Bank to give Tsvangirai one million five hundred thousand dollars to purchase his house. After the deposit was paid, the MDC made a quick U-turn and went back into government.
Coming to the July 31, 2013 election, the question is why would someone accept to go into an election which did not even conform to the minimum conditions that his own MDC party had set? It was clear from the onset that the outcome of the election was predetermined. An election without a voter’s roll, media reforms, security sector reforms, legislative reforms and the harmonization of laws to the new Constitution was always going to be an exercise in futility. The decision to participate in the election was also against sound advice from countries like South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi and Botswana. I guess Tsvangirai and the MDC were so caught up in a chimera and thought the election was already won.
Another grave weakness that is inherent in Tsvangirai is that he is a man who does not take lightly to criticism. During my tenure as Director of Security, we advised Morgan Tsvangirai on numerous occasions on issues that affected the programmes of the party. He would pay a deaf ear to our advice and was captured and hoodwinked by the kitchen cabinet even on personal issues.
These are the very same issues and observations contained in Mangoma’s letter. Tsvangirai failed to pursue the reform agenda in government while he had executive powers and instead concentrated his efforts of flimsy issues such as having fun and women. He sought personal gains such as houses and cars. Party funds were also directed to issues that had nothing to do with the people’s project, as reports in the media now confirm.
Millions of people have sacrificed towards the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe with some paying the ultimate price. Many have been kidnapped and tortured, me being one of them. Some have sustained broken bones, thousands have been raped and children made orphans and homeless. The question is – what has Tsvangirai done and what did he do for these people even during his time as Prime Minister?
The house is Highlands is a serious case of self-aggrandizement at the expense of the people who have supported Tsvangirai to be the man he is today. This issue raises further questions as to his source of the funds to be used to buy this house, currently valued at four million dollars. Or does he want to get this house for free, even though it was developed using taxpayers’ money?
Tsvangirai is the founding president of the MDC and that fact is not in dispute. He has tried his best to bring democracy to Zimbabwe. He has done his part but at this moment, the MDC is facing the potential of being liquidated by Zanu PF. The MDC is also facing a potential risk of suffering an excruciating split, a second under his nose. I am not sure if this split will leave the party alive. Tsvangirai must exercise leadership and allow to party to move forward. He must do the respectable thing of stepping aside.
Chris Dhlamini is a former Director of Security in the MDC-T.