When internally generated executive abuse becomes visible to shareholders, striking at the heart of patience and motivation, it is folly for a model principal to remain silent in the forlorn hope that tomorrow shall sort itself out.
The essence of a legitimate and successful national election is either a confirmation of the status quo or outright regime change.
Even in a traditional African setting, leadership succession in royal families is a given, positive step for communal and national stability.
When Zimbabweans settled for Morgan Tsvangirai as their first choice for leadership in the initial plebiscite whose results were clearly and deliberately distorted by the incumbent and his institutions last year, the people openly rejected the dominant political party for regime change.
Tsvangirai has since been vindicated: his short record and copious patience in a clearly loveless union has spawned a temporary stabiliser, national temperance, and optimism, at home and even beyond.
For about 270 days, Tsvangirai — the man who won Zimbabwe’s presidential election on March 29 2008 — has endured so much executive abuse that many thought he could throw in the towel within hours of his being sworn-in as the prime minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Cracks emerged early, hardly before the ink had dried on the curiously named Global Political Agreement. Neither the abduction and torture of activist Jestina Mukoko and several of Tsvangirai’s agents nor the confusion at his swearing in ceremony at State House and the first arrest of Roy Bennett achieved an expected effect.
The slow recognition of Tsvangirai’s new official role by security service chiefs attracted mealy-mouthed attention and no sanction from expected quarters when convention and the constitution are normally unkind to such foul public manners.
Commander-in-chief President Robert Mugabe, who presided over the ceremony, seemed unable to notice the absence of his top military brass.
To Zimbabweans that meant little compared to a record-breaking climb down and a rare act of capitulation by one of Africa’s remaining strongmen and a former liberation war idol.
The people urged Tsvangirai on, reflecting a national sentiment that irked a trembling few.
Since then, state-sanctioned and celebrated abuse of Tsvangirai has become incessant. Given the depth of the meltdown, perhaps Tsvangirai erred in assuming unfettered political goodwill and an affirmative institutional hug to see through a process that mirrored the changing milieu.
But nine months into the union, he remains officially homeless together with Speaker Lovemore Moyo and all his out-of-Harare ministers and officials. Suggestions for executive appointments in his office have to be vetted and approved; and so far only four out of the proposed 11 have passed.
We are told, ad nauseum, and even by Mugabe himself, that he runs a parallel state administration with only four civil servants officially accepted into his office thus far, in a country that employs more than a quarter of a million public servants.
Mugabe insists he must first clear Tsvangirai’s travel plans. But Mugabe never returns the favour, nor consults him on his numerous foreign forays. Mugabe determines the weekly cabinet agenda, as all requests for public debate, policy clarity and national issues for inspection have to pass through the President’s Office.
Unilateral Zanu PF decisions, sweeping policy shifts, positions and statements, dubious state-sanctioned actions and arrests of political activists and partisan directives are often dumped on Tsvangirai’s desk without the courtesy or prior consultation.
Government institutions are forced to mask a unique Zanu PF concern; symbols of change are either downplayed or simply put off; routine state business is either privatised or coated with Zanu PF paint; board and staff appointments at public companies are re-furrowed to an old boys’ network and policy generation and execution is still largely an exclusive Zanu PF affair.
A traditional Zanu PF bureaucracy still rules the roost, even though a ministerial portfolio may officially be under an MDC politician. Even at local government level, all the top executives are either Zanu PF activists or they sympathise with that party.
They determine the agenda for action and implement decisions at a pace and under a strict direction of minister Ignatious Chombo and Zanu PF because of deliberate legislative distortions.
Propaganda frames and blame abound — all directed at Tsvangirai — specifically to show that nothing of significance in the area of governance has changed.
Despite his commitment to work, a deceptive, over-boiled line that kept Zanu PF together about Tsvangirai’s past is often beamed and repeated, to thread a restless and confused Zanu PF constituency together. New poisoned arrows point at his legitimacy and credibility daily, ready to wreak havoc on his executive authority.
The Council of Ministers (CoM) and the National Security Council (NSC) are the only two significant power centres and institutions set up under the GPA. Tsvangirai is supposed to chair the CoM and (on paper) is an indispensable player in the NSC.
Suffice to say the old Joint Operations Command is still very much alive while the CoM has yet to cut its teeth in the political fray.
The other important institution is Jomic. With all due respect, it is pointless to bring this body into this debate.
Tsvangirai faces an enormous character test to survive the vicious temper of a raging current as he swims against a well-honed and tested dose of political wickedness, insincerity and executive abuse.
Zimbabwe is in danger as the terrain the country’s prime minister is up against presents a fresh, irregular dilemma at every turn. When a spouse packs a few bags and leaves a matrimonial home, the decision hardly resides in a latest abusive event.
Experienced conflict managers search deeper for telling words beneath the song before fostering counsel. Tsvangirai maintains that he is still in the matrimonial home. He only came out to allow Zimbabweans and
their neighbours access into a troubled home.
Tsvangirai’s most vocal, public critics should know better: almost all of them have performed dismally in their private, once-voluntary marriages. They know from experience the difficulties of voluntary marriages, let alone those of forced loveless unions.
As a genuine partner, Tsvangirai needs space, sovereignty and sense of inclusion to remain true to his executive mandate. Zanu PF and Mugabe are unable to explain Zimbabwe.
By Tagwirei Bango