Tsvangirai busy scoring own goals

By Blessing Zulu



THE year is March 2008, President Robert Mugabe has called for a national election and people have not been told about the location of polling stations,

only the day — Saturday.


When people wake up to go and cast their votes they are told people in Harare have already cast their votes at the Zanu PF headquarters and Gumba’s Supermarket and President Mugabe has won a landslide victory. Imagine if the same scenario is replicated throughout the country.


What is the likely reaction from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of one faction of the MDC? What will be the reaction of the international community? I will not answer these questions, as I do not have the spiritual powers of Rotina Mavhunga, the diesel mystic.


I am now convinced that the circus that happened at the so called Women’s Congress in Bulawayo demonstrates that Mugabe’s government can run an election better than the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai. It is now clear that Tsvangirai has been busy missing the point and scoring own goals repeatedly.


Tsvangirai is quick to say there is nothing special about Lucia Matibenga, but surely this is not about Matibenga but about the rule of law and abiding by the party’s constitution. A few months ago, he whipped his MPs to endorse the controversial Amendment Number 18 Bill. Whether this was good or bad only history will tell. But I think history will judge him harshly. The decision has riled Tsvangirai’s strategic allies in the civic groups.


It must be emphasised that Zimbabweans have suffered enough — our inflation is the highest in the world at nearly 8 000%, life expectancy is below 35 years and unemployment about 85%.


We pray to the almighty everyday that in future we must not have a leader who abuses the people and the constitution like Mugabe, but with the behaviour of the opposition, our prayers are not being answered.


Whenever there is change it must have substance and the unfortunate events unfolding in the MDC are proof that the opposition and the ruling party are conspiring to disappoint the people of Zimbabwe.


Tsvangirai must be the last court of appeal in the MDC, but for him to ignore his National Council and National Executive and unilaterally fire elected officers using his kitchen cabinet in Thokozani Khupe’s restaurant is rather disturbing.


It is not surprising that the media and groups normally sympathetic to Tsvangirai have lost confidence in his leadership abilities. People do not have electricity, food, clean water, medicine and other basic essentials yet the MDC is again focusing on internal problems.


The MDC has its roots in labour and mostly the poor. It is unfortunate therefore, that Tsvangirai has allowed the haves and have-mores to elbow out the poor and the workers. Theresa Makone, whose husband Ian Makone is Tsvangirai advisor and funder, has become the chef in Tsvangirai’s kitchen cabinet and is giving Tsvangirai the wrong advice.

What is baffling is the fact that Theresa Makone has not done anything in Mashonaland East where she was the chairwoman. The MDC as we all know does not have a single seat in Mashonaland East and does not seem to be making any progress in this province. Where then is Tsvangirai getting the impression that she is the messiah for women?


Tsvangirai is surrounded by lawyers such as Tendai Biti, his secretary general, but for a whole secretary general to endorse such an illegal move is baffling. From this circus, it is clear that Tsvangirai and Biti have now become a liability to the party and are a danger not only to themselves but to the nation.


It is a national disgrace that even the most senior leaders in the party are being kept in the dark about the goings on. But typical of Zanu PF, they do not have the guts to go public, and the people can only hear through hearsay what is happening in the party. Real democrats must never allow the devil to run away with the pulpit. The truth shall set us free. In this regard I say hats off to Grace Kwinjeh for standing firm.


What guarantee do we have that these individuals will respect Zimbabwe’s constitution once in government? Can anyone ever control them if they are in power and have the state resources at their disposal? These are the questions that the nation failed to ask Mugabe in the 80s and we are paying dearly. Not challenging our leaders and asking tough questions is now the conventional wisdom for Zimbabweans across the political divide.


The wisdom, or lack of the same, says if it’s Mugabe or Tsvangirai you should hedge, flee, dodge and spin; at all costs, don’t criticise.


After the split with the Welshman Ncube faction and the public sympathy that he got from most people, Tsvangirai now has an unhealthy disregard for democracy and the party’s constitution enhancing the prospects of miscalculation.


Tsvangirai must show his respect for the people and democracy by reversing this very unpopular decision to use the kitchen cabinet to smoke Matibenga out of the party. If this is not done as of yesterday, the party will resemble the last 30 minutes of the Titanic, there will be so many jumping ship.


There is no denying the fact that Matibenga has grassroots support and kicking her out unceremoniously is likely to shake the resolve of many party supporters; they may not join Arthur Mutambara or Mugabe, but they will not vote.


The MDC as we knew it was a broad-based democratic movement, but is now dead. It’s now just a political party seeking power. This was supposed to be a watershed election for Mugabe but again Tsvangirai has made another strategic blunder.


* Zulu is a former political reporter with the Zimbabwe Independent and is now based in Washington DC.