It is patently obvious the situation has dramatically improved since 2008 when the country teetered on the brink of collapse at the height of an unprecedented political and economic meltdown. The ravages of economic disintegration, exacerbated by hyperinflation and political repression had reduced Zimbabwe to a virtual failed state.
Most — not exclusively — of the credit, as Tsvangirai noted, goes to him. He should have, however, added Arthur Mutambara and his party who also deserve compliment. In a way President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF also deserve some tribute despite being the original authors of the problem.
In short, all the three parties, notwithstanding internal power struggles, did make an effort to work together although during the infighting Mugabe now and again lost sight of the bigger picture and resorted to petty squabbling. Tsvangirai in the heat of battle every so often lost the plot. He was, as Ambassador Dell reported, weak and indecisive. Mutambara was caught in between and from time to time his behaviour was clumsy and clownish.
The premier was right in saying “we have added value to this government”.
“We have pulled this nation from the brink of collapse to a new potential of hope,” he said. “We have averted an inevitable plunge into the abyss to set the country back on the rails; on a new path of stability, development and growth.”
No sane person can deny this. Of course, he exaggerated his case when he claimed “we are the people’s conscience in this government and every day”. We know for certain that a number of MDC-T officials in government lacked basic principles and ethics in doing their jobs. Their sense of right and wrong was compromised by the trappings of power — office, benefits, posh cars and mansions.
Tsvangirai’s rather honest, perhaps inevitable, admission of failure in a number of areas was also attention-grabbing.
Among many, one of Tsvangirai’s most interesting admissions was that power relations in government and negotiations still favour Mugabe and Zanu PF. The MDC-T failed to change this. Instead of saying how he would or ought to contain Mugabe, Tsvangirai said he was frustrated because “President Mugabe has chosen to run away from his signature and treats fellow principals with utter disdain and contempt”.
“I am frustrated because the noble-constitution-making process has failed to stand the test of legitimacy after Zimbabweans were disallowed from freely expressing their views,” Tsvangirai mourned.
In a number of ways, Tsvangirai also admitted he was unable to match Mugabe in the ruthless political manoeuvrings of the inclusive government. The prime minister, who at one time reduced himself to a Mugabe apologist and praise-singer, by and large admitted losing the plot. It looks like he had simply forgotten the “political history of the devil” and his “crusades”.
The chance to reassert himself in the New Year remains. But time is marching on.
Tsvangirai must wake up and smell the coffee.