Tsvangirai is under tremendous pressure from members in his national council who want the party to disengage in order to put pressure on Zanu PF to make concessions on the outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The outstanding issues include the hiring of central bank governor Gideon Gono and the appointment of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and the refusal by President Robert Mugabe to swear in Roy Bennett as deputy Agriculture minister.
At its national council meeting in Bulawayo at the weekend, the MDC-T resolved to consult grassroots members on the unity government.
Tsvangirai told his supporters on Sunday at White City Stadium in Bulawayo that: “We are coming to you. Is this government sustainable? It is you, the people, who shall give us direction.”
MDC executive members, among them, youth chairman Thamsanqa Mahlangu and chairperson of women’s assembly Theresa Makone, told the same supporters that the party should disengage from the unity government.
“This creature called the inclusive government is not working,” Manhlangu said. Everyone is seeing that. As MDC youth we say let’s pull out now.”
Makone added: “There is continued marginalisation of women who are not Zanu PF, so when will this end. It is rather better we pull out than continue to be abused, raped willy-nilly by Zanu PF people. I say lets pull out.”
John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, said it was understandable why some MDC activists wanted out of the inclusive government.
He said people were frustrated by the slow pace at resolving the sticking issues, but was doubtful the MDC would walkout of government.
Makumbe said consulting ordinary people on the fate of the MDC in the unity government could be disastrous.
“I doubt whether Tsvangirai and his team would adhere to the views of the people if told to get out of government. The consultation route is dangerous as they might fail to implement the wishes of the people therefore plunging them into a dilemma,” he said.
Makumbe said MDC should be seen at this stage soliciting views on how to “make the GNU work”.
He was, however, quick to point that the slow pace in implementing fully the GPA would serve to ignite “pockets of militancy” among the people.
“The fact that people are not demonstrating now should not give the three principals a false sense of security thinking that Zimbabweans are content,” Makumbe warned. “Yes, people are now not starving as was the case last year, but there is no tangible development on their lives. In the long run, people would start picketing countrywide, and signs to that route are now showing. Look at the strike by doctors and now teachers, it’s a serious statement to the leadership.”
Bulawayo-based political commentator Qhubani Moyo said the MDC talk of consulting its members was mere rhetoric.
Moyo said: “I don’t think Tsvangirai was sincere when he said they would consult their members on whether to pull out or not. That is just rhetoric only meant to show Zanu PF that they are still popular.”
Moyo said generally the people were happy with the inclusive government because basic goods were now readily available in shops and hospitals were now operating.
“The mood now is that of general happiness and MDC should just abandon their planned consultation,” he said. “Instead, they should ask people on how best the little gains achieved so far can be consolidated.”
Moyo said by pulling out of government, the MDC would “become irrelevant and will resurrect Zanu PF. They should continue in government and demonstrate their good governance credentials”.
There are also fears that if the MDC pulls out, the country would again plunge into chaos.
A member of the civil society, who preferred not be named, urged Tsvangirai to pull out now.
“He (Tsvangirai) knows that this government is not working. The narrow-minded Zanu PF regime would not move an inch. Running back to Sadc portrays MDC as a cry baby,” the activist said. “If MDC stays in this inclusive government till year end, it risks losing credibility and popularity. People cannot wait forever for change. They can be patient and the Zimbabwean people have shown a colossal fountain of patience but there are limits to their patience and time is running out. MDC must pull out now.”
Tsvangirai said although he is a tolerant person, he and millions of other Zimbabweans were now losing patience.
“We want partners that are sincere… We want partners who are going to commit themselves to good governance principles,” he told his supporters at White City Stadium, Bulawayo, on Sunday.
“I have done my part to promote reconciliation in this country. Even after winning the election, I have compromised for the sake of Zimbabwe. But don’t misjudge me. You misjudge me at your peril.”
Some people in Bulawayo interviewed by the Zimbabwe Independent blamed Zanu PF for failure for deliver “real change”.
Amos Nxumalo said: “pulling out is not an option as Zimbabweans have vested overwhelming support to MDC and view it as its sole saviour.”
Similar views where echoed by Gladis Makamure at White City Stadium, who said: “Tsvangirai asked us if we will stand by him in this struggle and we gave him our fresh support. He should soldier on despite open arrogance shown by Mugabe who is prepared to destroy the inclusive government.”