IF MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai still entertains hopes of salvaging his political career, then he needs to do better than call for fresh elections in Zimbabwe at this juncture.
Editors Memo with Vincent Kahiya
The opposition leader has handed a letter to the Sadc Troika calling for fresh polls in Zimbabwe with the hope of unseating President Mugabe’s government which he deems illegitimate.
This is the third time Tsvangirai has called for fresh polls since the general elections were held in July last year.
The first was in August last year when he filed an election petition challenging the validity of the polls. He then withdrew the poll petition, leading to Mugabe’s inauguration as President.
In December party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora in an interview with our sister paper NewsDay set out the party’s agenda for new polls.
As the party was beginning to have major internal upheavals that led to the current split, Mwonzora said the MDC had “weathered the storm of Zanu PF-induced rebellion” and was planning to hold all-stakeholders meetings to prepare for fresh elections and deal with Mugabe’s illegitimacy.
“We will have lots of programmes to sharpen our policies as we prepare to take over power soon because given the imminent collapse of the economy we will have to have elections to address the crisis of legitimacy …” said Mwonzora in December.
The MDC was correct last year in predicting a further deterioration in the economy this year. The party was also right in highlighting legitimacy issues on the part of the incumbency who has literally became a lame duck in a party riven by factionalism.
But it is appropriate at this moment to warn Tsvangirai not to delude himself into thinking that the crisis in Zimbabwe and the fierce power struggles in Zanu PF have strengthened the opposition party’s ranks. And that he is ready to rule.
If anything, many faithfuls today doubt Tsvangirai’s ability to create a formidable force to counter Mugabe in an election, win polls and then form a government that can extricate this country from the current abyss.
The party has experienced major reversals on two key fronts: It has split, rubbishing Mwonzora’s pretentiousness that it had weathered the internal storm and more critically, there is no evidence of the staging of the promised stakeholder meetings.
The envisioned cutting edge-policies to take over power are not as obvious as the torpor exhibited by the party prior to the Sadc Summit when it suddenly found its voice, albeit discordant.
The mood in the country is negative as companies fold by the day and service delivery degenerates faster than authorities can salvage the situation.
Poverty levels are increasing but Zimbabweans are not clamouring for polls at the moment. And even if they were, there are no guarantees that Tsvangirai can win an election considering the chequered history of polling in this country.
The anti-Mugabe sentiment alone should not be the trigger for Tsvangirai to call for polls.
He was in this comfort zone on the eve of the 2013 polls when he predicted landslide victory for his party because the mood in the country was “overwhelmingly anti-Zanu PF” and that Zimbabweans “will not vote for a dark past but for a bright future which lies in the hands of the MDC-T”.
The envisaged bright future requires a clear programme of action to position the party as a trusted alternative to the ruling establishment.
Tsvangirai failed in this area when he was in the inclusive government as the expected reform agenda was never realised.
Calling for elections before demonstrating to the electorate how the party has sharpened its policies cannot be a good idea.
Sadc will of course laugh off the little letter from Tsvangirai.
So what is Tsvangirai’s next strategy? Whither Zimbabwe’s opposition?