No change in strategy for Tsvangirai – analyst

JOHANNESBURG – A faction of Zimbabwe’s divided opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), re-elected Morgan Tsvangirai as its president at the weekend, but an analyst told IRIN there was little indication of a change in strategy by the veteran leader.

Upon hi

s re-election as leader of the anti-senate faction of the MDC, Tsvangirai called for “a sustained cold season of peaceful democratic resistance” to President Robert Mugabe’s government. He has made similar calls in recent years, including his memorable call for a ‘final push’ of civil disobedience and protests that failed to materialise in 2003.

The MDC split late last year over Tsvangirai’s decision to boycott the senate elections. A pro-senate faction led by his former deputy, Gibson Sibanda, refused to ignore the polls and fielded a number of candidates. Sibanda’s faction has since held its own congress and elected a new leader, South African-based Arthur Mutumbara.

Chris Maroleng, a researcher with the think-tank, Institute of Security Studies, told IRIN that Tsvangirai’s call for a “cold season” showed that not much had changed in terms of the strategy for his faction of the MDC.

“Tsvangirai needs to reinvigorate the MDC in order for it to be an organisation that can pose an effective challenge to (the ruling party) ZANU-PF,” Maroleng said, as direct confrontation had failed to achieve the MDC’s goals.

It was also clear from the turnout at the congress – between 14,000 and 15,000 people – that Tsvangirai still enjoyed the lion’s share of support by the splintered party’s members. However, this would count for nought if Tsvangirai failed to address “weaknesses” in his party’s strategy for opposing ZANU-PF.

“We have not seen a change of strategy or ideology within the opposition forces to warrant a belief that any of the groups that emerge from this fragmented MDC have what it takes to pose an effective opposition to Mugabe,” Maroleng concluded. — IRIN