Tsvangirai swims in a sea of troubles

FORMER Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is currently swimming in a sea of troubles amid calls from within and outside the party for him to resign, as well as an unprecedented revolt against his leadership by the party’s newly elected councillors.

Report by Brian Chitemba/Elias Mambo

However, Tsvangirai appears determined to resist the wave of growing unpopularity as he insists that he will not step down from the party leadership and is in fact positioning himself to secure a new term to remain at the helm in the 2018 elections.

In an exclusive interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, Tsvangirai insisted he would remain in charge of the MDC-T as long as his party members gave him the mandate to stand as a presidential candidate in the next polls.

He has been leader of the MDC since its formation in 1999 and if given another five-year term at the 2016 congress, he would be president of the party for 21 years.

The former premier contested presidential polls in 2002, 2008 and this year, but failed to unseat President Robert Mugabe, resulting in a spirited push to oust him, with MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett suggesting that he steps down to pave way for leadership renewal.

“Why do we need leadership renewal?” Tsvangirai asked. “To do what? What are the merits and de-merits and what are the pitfalls. Because of a stolen election? It’s neither tactful nor strategic, no, no, no, it cannot be a vote of no confidence from newspapers and analysts. It’s in the interests of the organisation to have an open debate; after all I have said it’s time to talk about leadership renewal.”

He described Bennett’s statement that he resigns as “irresponsible” because he was aware of formal channels to air his views within the party. Tsvangirai was for the first time since the controversial defeat on July 31 speaking out on a number of issues including the raging MDC-T succession debate, election rigging, Sadc’s role in Zimbabwe, Nikuv’s involvement in elections and his marriage affairs.

Tsvangirai said Mugabe won with the assistance of the Chinese and controversial Israel security company, Nikuv, which manipulated the voters’ roll where 850 000 people were double-registered while 115 000 were over 90 years.

To prove that the voters’ roll was shambolic, Tsvangirai said he approached Mugabe on the eve of the elections where he presented complaints in the presence of former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo who was the head of the African Union observer mission. Mugabe in turn blamed Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, he said.

Tsvangirai also threatened to recall the councillors who voted for Zanu PF mayors, before claiming they were paid US$500 bribes each in Chitungwiza while in Victoria Falls, a senior minister allegedly bribed them and a ruling party official also did the same in Mutare.