IT was commendable for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to apologise to the nation two weeks ago in Bulawayo for his sexual indiscretions while purportedly searching for a new wife, as it went some distance towards repairing the damage he has inflicted on himself.
Report by Faith Zama
“It was a genuine search for a new wife and therefore I would like to apologise to those that were inconvenienced; it was not my intention to hurt anyone,” Tsvangirai told supporters at his party’s 13th anniversary in Bulawayo.
Even though some felt the apology was too little too late, Tsvangirai had at least succeeded in giving the impression he was remorseful and was taking full responsibility for his lapses.
Given his high position and profile as a top public official — a premier who shares executive powers with the president — it was important for him to apologise and show contrition.
So the prime minister, emerging from the storm which had engulfed his personal and political life, was right to make an apology. Many people were ready to somehow forgive him and move on, while others of course were reluctant.
However, that credit now seems to have been wiped out by his remarks 10 days down the line.
In what amounts to reversing his apology, Tsvangirai told The Guardian (UK) this week he was a victim of a smear campaign by his state-sponsored enemies.
“I had two or three relationships and that was blown out of proportion,” he said.
Well, we don’t know whether there was a smear campaign against him or not, but that is wholly irrelevant. And, of course, his claims to have had only one or two relationships are simply not true. That is besides the fact that even if they were true, it was still bad enough for him to do that. Such sort of remarks only show he has retreated to denial and excuses for his scandalous behaviour.
No one is an angel here or is pretending to be, but Tsvangirai must understand he is a national leader and senior public official, so he can’t defend himself by making claims of a set-up or saying his scandals were exaggerated. He can’t even credibly deny what he was doing amounts to scandal.
Worse still, he can’t seriously say those criticising him are worse off as they have a string of girlfriends or kids all over the place. That’s a poor line.
He is a public official who must lead by example, especially in a society like ours plagued by HIV and Aids.
If anyone doubted the prime minister doesn’t get it on this issue, consider what he incredibly went on to say to The Guardian: “If two consenting adults have a relationship, what is wrong with that? I didn’t go and rape somebody. I didn’t go and take somebody’s wife.”
This is shocking, to say the least. So for him the only moral benchmark he uses is adulthood and mutual consent. He has no problem with multiple relationships and using and dumping women like diapers as long as they are consenting adults?
It gets worse when he refers to rape and adultery. Does it mean that for him to appreciate whether he was right or wrong he has to lower the moral benchmark to the base of adultery or rape? So it means unless he commits adultery or rape, he would not see anything wrong with bed-hopping?
Tsvangirai has been linked to a string of women, children outside marriage for whom he is currently paying maintenance, and even worse, polygamy since the death of his wife, Susan in March 2009.
Only recently, he was forced to technically cancel his high-profile wedding to Elizabeth Macheka because a Harare magistrate ruled he was still customarily married to Locardia Karimatsenga-Tembo.
Look, this is a really hectic and damaging lifestyle, especially for a person of his status and of his age, with grown up children. That is why he is clutching at straws.
Tsvangirai must do the right thing: Stop making excuses and take responsibility for his actions. The measure of a good leader is ability to take responsibility, make amends and move on.