HomeOpinionIn defence of Tsvangirai

In defence of Tsvangirai

I WAS baffled at the Southwark Cathedral  last Saturday. Thousands of people booed their leader in an unprecedented move of defiance and intolerance.

The people in there stopped Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai midway through his speech and started chanting that “Mugabe must go”. I went out of the hall at that time to answer the call of nature but some MDC supporters followed me up the corridor and pulled my jacket. They demanded to know why the MDC UK leadership had “failed to advise Tsvangirayi properly”.

As I started to respond a group of other youths wearing “vigil” attire started singing around me: “Tsvangirai usaite fun fun nevanhu” (Tsvangirai, don’t play games with the people).
I left the cathedral grounds and made an early trek to the venue of the dinner that evening. At the hotel I had a one-to-one discussion with the prime minister about what he had said at the cathedral and his views about President Robert Mugabe. He explained that Mugabe is committed to the deal but does not trust him. He said the sporadic attacks on people and farm invasions were the brainchild of remnant forces who want to see the failure of the inclusive government because they know that the success of the transitional government means their death.
He said these people were in the minority and they will shortly fizzle out. The acts of banditry were not sanctioned by government but by some criminal gangs sponsored by hard-line remnants in Zanu PF.
The same happened in 1980 when remnants of the Rhodesian security forces and Selous Scouts and Pfumo Revanhu continued to brutalise people until 1982 when hard-line remnants stole aeroplanes from Thornhill Air Base, to fly to apartheid ruled South Africa. They did not want the will of the people to prevail but they fizzled out. They also planned to assassinate Mugabe in an operation code named “Operation Quartz”. They were against Mugabe becoming the prime minister of Zimbabwe.
So what was behind the cathedral defiance to Tsvangirai by his supporters? The area of contention was the way Tsvangirayi says things about Zimbabwe dictator Mugabe and how he seems to have downplayed human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, giving information which, if picked up by the Home Office, would devastate asylum applications and put at risk the ability of those who fail to regularise their stay to claim benefits, housing, get jobs and live normally in Britain.
Some people want to bring their families to the UK which is only possible if they get asylum, something they feel is being threatened by Tsvangirai’s statements. Many Zimbabweans expected Tsvangirai to actually come and assist them to get asylum by demonising Mugabe and painting a bleak future of the inclusive government. That’s where the fire is mostly coming from.
I understand the problems faced by asylum seekers in the UK. They live as
second-class citizens. I understand their grievances against the party but I must also say that it is undemocratic to silence anybody from airing their views and this includes everyone, king or pauper, rich or poor, prime minister or asylum seeker. It is, therefore, very unfortunate that people at the cathedral that Saturday afternoon decided to silence someone from airing his views.
Tsvangirai should have been allowed to finish and answer questions about all our grievances and his relationship with Mugabe butwe decided to deny him his democratic right to do so.
But he managed to do that at the dinner in the evening. Most people who  attended the dinner now back what he is doing unconditionally. This is so because we allowed him to speak and we asked him all the questions we had  and as usual he did not disappoint.
A young lady asked Tsvangirai what he would give her if she takes his advice and goes to Zimbabwe. She said she is looking after five people. Tsvangirai said that he was inviting people to Zimbabwe not to give them things but for them to give something to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is in a “non-runner” state and nothing can be taken from it.
The problem is that we want someone to do the work but not ourselves. We want to go there when Zimbabwe’s roads are all tarred by someone, when clinics are working and when schools and universities are flourishing. We want God in heaven to offer Tsvangirai the personnel to sort out the country for us then we fly back just to enjoy it. We have been wired to look to donors and foreign leaders like Mbeki and Bush to sort our problems for us.
I was born in Buhera South at Muzokomba Clinic. The clinic was built by donors. My father and mother survived on food donated by foreign donors. I grew up doubling breast-feeding and donated powdered milk which was donated to the Ministry of Health by the European Economic Community in Brussels, Belgium. When I was one year old I started feeding on donated cereals from the department of Social Welfare at Murambinda Growth Point.
I received free medical immunisation and I do not even know where all those vaccines came from. My mother does not know who donated the vaccines that saved my life either. From the age of two to seven I had food at
feeding points and we ate very highly nutritious porridge donated by Kellogg Foundation based in London. At the age of seven I went to primary school.
Here again there was popular mahewu donated by the Red Cross Society whose headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. That was my main diet. The water that all the school children drank was wholly pumped and piped to school by donors who provided the funds to DDF.
I had this donated mahewu for seven
years at primary school. I then went to secondary school. The school was started by missionaries but all the important buildings like the laboratory, the administration block and dormitories were built by funding donated by the Japanese government. The equipment and chemicals in the laboratory were also donated by the Japanese embassy in Harare using funds from Tokyo.
After this I went to the University of Zimbabwe. The donors paid my fees. There were many other students whose fees were paid by donors, both local and international ones. We preferred foreign donors to local ones, although the Harare City Council was actually a better donor than some foreign sponsors at UZ.
After graduation I went to work but there again my office and all the safes, vehicles, tents, were donated by Unicef. All the fuel I used was donated. My salary and the salaries of my eight subordinates came from donors. Even my boss’s salary was paid by donors.
Then Mugabe became a problem in Zimbabwe.
We started looking up to George W Bush, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan and Thabo Mbeki to sort Mugabe out. Instead of joining mass action and final pushes we hid in our houses and looked out through the windows to see if someone was on the streets when demonstrations were called. We decided to run away from the country and plan to go back when Mbeki, Obama, Bush and Blair have sorted out Mugabe and the country. I am not the only one like this.
There are many like me, as evidenced by some of our comments at the Cathedral. We have a warped thinking that someone must do the work and we must go there to enjoy. Someone must sort out the sewerage pipes in Chitungwiza before I set foot there.
The prime minister is saying; let us build our country together. Let us together fight for our freedom. Let us not be selfish. People inside Zimbabwe want their clinics to function and he wants to deliver. The quality of lives of people must improve. But all the skilled workers are gone.
Unless sacrifices are made then clinics won’t open and services won’t be  delivered and cholera will worsen. He is doing the correct thing and he is not selling out. The prime minister said that groundwork is being prepared for free and fair elections with international supervision in the next 18 months. The choice is yours. If you want to assist rebuild you country this is the time. We need to make a clean break from depending on donations to doing our own things. Those who are out of step are being left behind
as we continue to journey towards our freedom.

Maruzani is MDC secretary for international affairs, UK and Ireland.


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