Pushing Tsvangirai too Much, too far

WHY is there no encouraging news coming out of Harare concerning Thabo Mbeki’s illegitimate child named “the Government of National Unity”?


These silly misnomers remind me of how despots hide behind words in a vain attempt to divert attention from their true selves. How democratic is the Democratic Republic of Congo? How much democracy flourishes in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea?

Why did they name the shotgun marriage to Zanu PF, a “government of national unity”?
The MDC did not want the settlement that was imposed on it. They were even given deadlines to consummate the political marriage.

There was no unity, let alone anything remotely resembling national scope.

As each day passes, evidence mounts that what Sadc and Mbeki did in Zimbabwe will soon explode into disarray because what this so-called government of national unity achieved is to lull people into believing that change was on the way. And if that does not happen, the people might react in a manner that might not be easy to control.

Today, slowly, Mugabe and Zanu PF are awakening as they realise that the MDC will never do them any harm. I have never felt as distraught as I did when I heard media reports coming  out of Zimbabwe saying that there is disgruntlement among Tsvangirai’s top cabinet colleagues who feel stranded since their leader is now reluctant to criticise Mugabe, both in cabinet meetings and in public.

That the MDC long ago lost the script is not in dispute. They were forced into this unity government at a time when the MDC itself had two distinct camps, each trying to influence and impose its position on the party.

Things only settled down a few weeks after the Sadc meeting. Today, the MDC does not appear to be as powerful and strong-willed as it was then, mostly because the element of personal interest has slipped into the equation. To make matters worse, Tsvangirai suffered two horrific tragedies in succession. Losing his wife of more than 30 years was devastating. Then he lost a grandchild soon after that.

Some of his officials say that Tsvangirai returned to work too soon after these twin tragedies. They are only trying to justify the extinguished fire in him.

Tsvangirai is failing to stand up to Mugabe but this cannot be blamed on the unfortunate tragedies that visited him. Tsvangirai has done a lot and he still remains a courageous man, more than any other in the party.

But he is tired. He has gone through much more than Mugabe went through. Being locked up in Ian Smith’s prisons and coming out with a university degree does not indicate as much suffering as we saw on Tsvangirai’s face when he was brutally beaten up by Mugabe’s goons one weekend.

It might not be fair to keep criticising Tsvangiari yet he has really done so much for his party and the fake, uneasy respite reportedly reigning over the country today must be credited to him. What else do we want him to do?

After so many sacrifices, it must be devastating for him to see journalists, teachers and others demonstrating against his government yet he has no authority to change anything that Mugabe does not want changed. I can almost feel his pain when he helplessly watches his closest associates and confidants, like Ghandi Mudzingwa, a former bodyguard, and Roy Bennett, being bundled off to jail while failing to rescue them from what the other half of his own government is doing.

The helplessness runs deeper when he considers the inability to help party supporters who are being harassed and thrown into jails on trumped up charges. It doesn’t help much that he is considered responsible for all the complaints raised against the government and that all the shortcomings of this unity government are heaped at his feet.

While they still give him the benefit of the doubt his former allies wonder more and more what he is doing as they see that the agreements contained in the GNU are not being met, with a lot of outstanding issues still unresolved.

After having been forced into this deal and having accepted it “in good faith” after much acrimony in his own party, Tsvangirai definitely feels betrayed by Mugabe.

He sits on a pedestal where he can now easily be humiliated by both events within the country, within government and within his own party.

Civil society is rightly up in arms over its exclusion from the drafting of a new constitution and Tsvangirai appears to have no energy left to tackle these issues.

Did we push this seasoned brave warrior too much and too far?

The grumblings within his own party are a scary development at this particular time, given the fragility of the unity government. Memories are still fresh of how Welshman Ncube almost destroyed the MDC over trivial issues and somehow managed to cause enough chaos to split the MDC into two.

We are expecting a little too much from Tsvangirai. He has to contend with changing strategy, and that in itself is a headache. It appears that it might have been easier to oppose Mugabe and Zanu PF from outside, but it is quite another to be part of the people he once so vehemently opposed.

Since the unity government came into existence, Mugabe has been slowly applying the pressure and has been quietly showing Zimbabweans who really holds the balance of power in the country.

Meanwhile, the MDC is also trying to show its supporters and allies that they can handle the situation. With Mugabe’s intransigence, all this pressure is being piled on Tsvangirai, having for so long become the symbol of resistance against Mugabe.

But now things are not going so well. As we talk right now, journalists have taken to the streets in protest, this being Tsvangirai’s government. Abductees were re-arrested by Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s police. Poor Jestina Mukoko, with compatriots like this, does she need enemies? Oh, if this is not Tsvangirai’s government, who is doing all these things and what is Tsvangirai doing about it?

He can’t do anything about it. No, we don’t prefer that Tsvangirai and Mugabe be always at each other’s throat. We prefer that Tsvangirai and his party stay clear of this nonsense. He himself admits there are problems and he has been encountering them for a long time now. But we just want to urge him on as if we can’t see where we are headed. We refuse to see his limitations.

Haven’t we heard that ice-cold water quenches little thirst? How far will the US$100 a month take us if we cannot rectify the simplest of things in as short a time as possible? Where will it all end if the MDC cannot stand its ground? Why should the MDC be the Samaritan always betraying its supporters’ aspirations while Zanu PF is not changing anything about itself?

I have faith in what the past taught me. I have experienced it. What’s in our future? I don’t believe in clairvoyance or crystal balls. The heart of the matter is that Mugabe is real and he is a destroyer not to be given an opportunity.

The MDC, but especially its leader, is paying a heavy prize for its association with the monsters in Zanu PF. My wish is for Tsvangirai to go into real retreat and regroup emotionally and psychologically. He needs to rediscover his inner strength. We want the old warrior back but only after he returns to his former inner self.

We are not pushing him but we notice a creeping weakness that Zanu PF is eagerly waiting to exploit and we cannot afford that. Thank you Tsvangirai, your job is not done yet; please don’t backslide now

Since the unity government came into existence, Mugabe has been slowly applying the pressure and has been quietly showing Zimbabweans who really holds the balance of power in the country.

Meanwhile, the MDC is also trying to show its supporters and allies that they can handle the situation. With Mugabe’s intransigence, all this pressure is being piled on Tsvangirai, having for so long become the symbol of resistance against Mugabe.

But now things are not going so well. As we talk right now, journalists have taken to the streets in protest, this being Tsvangirai’s government. Abductees were re-arrested by Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s police. Poor Jestina Mukoko, with compatriots like this, does she need enemies? Oh, if this is not Tsvangirai’s government, who is doing all these things and what is Tsvangirai doing about it?

He can’t do anything about it. No, we don’t prefer that Tsvangirai and Mugabe be always at each other’s throat. We prefer that Tsvangirai and his party stay clear of this nonsense. He himself admits there are problems and he has been encountering them for a long time now. But we just want to urge him on as if we can’t see where we are headed. We refuse to see his limitations.

Haven’t we heard that ice-cold water quenches little thirst? How far will the US$100 a month take us if we cannot rectify the simplest of things in as short a time as possible? Where will it all end if the MDC cannot stand its ground? Why should the MDC be the Samaritan always betraying its supporters’ aspirations while Zanu PF is not changing anything about itself?

I have faith in what the past taught me. I have experienced it. What’s in our future? I don’t believe in clairvoyance or crystal balls. The heart of the matter is that Mugabe is real and he is a destroyer not to be given an opportunity. The MDC, but especially its leader, is paying a heavy prize for its association with the monsters in Zanu PF. My wish is for Tsvangirai to go into real retreat and regroup emotionally and psychologically. He needs to rediscover his inner strength. We want the old warrior back but only after he returns to his former inner self.

We are not pushing him but we notice a creeping weakness that Zanu PF is eagerly waiting to exploit and we cannot afford that. Thank you Tsvangirai, your job is not done yet; please don’t backslide now.

  • Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zimbabwean writer based in Botswana.

BY TANONOKA JOSEPH WHANDE

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