Prime Minister Tsvangirai and Locadia Tembo – Are public office holders immune to public scrutiny?

My concern about writing about last week’s skirmishes about our Prime Minister’s dirty linen washed in public is that fact that some of our friends in social networks such as Facebook have already predicted that some media sections, including blogs like mine will this week continue writing about the subject with a view of a smear campaign against Morgan Tsvangirai.

Morgan Tsvangirai.
Morgan Tsvangirai.

I therefore begin by saying this article must rather be seen as friendly fire with an overall aim of encouraging tolerance to different views. Also, it is common practise within the media that such important people like Tsvangirai and other leaders tend to dominate news with others preferring smear campaigns while others seek nothing other than public scrutiny which is key for voters before they make choices of whom they elect to public office.

For me, one of the most important things about the subject of Morgan and Locadia was that it confirmed what is already known amongst Zimbabweans that when it comes to the public debate about how our leaders conduct themselves in public, some of us are not tolerant to different views at all. I think this is a dangerous approach to our fragile politics because it is at this crucial time of our country when we are preparing for credible elections that we must be tolerant to each other and understand that in politics, different views don’t have to be expressed by angry reactions and tit for tat mentalities. To me, tolerance is the foundation for important democratic ingredients like Freedom of Speech and fighting corruption that is now the number one enemy against Zimbabweans.

Just to share my thoughts on where I am coming from, I found the fact that some of our friends, especially the MDC-T supporters were very angry at the fact that some of us shared a different view about the moral behaviour of their leader Morgan. The common defence for Morgan Tsvangirai’s lack of judgement in the choice of his women was the fact that everyone is not perfect and we are bound to have skeletons of our own. While I agree with this fact, I very much differ with the view of shooting down everyone who touches the subject by pointing or threatening to expose their skeletons.

The difference here is that Morgan Tsvangirai is a public leader unlike many of us who just share their views in discussions on these issues. There are chances that Morgan Tsvangirai might be elected to hold the country’s top post of presidency and that on its own makes us think it within our rights to ask him to display intentions of being accountable when he gets there. People have legitimate concerns here because if true, the number of women and the amount of money that Morgan is said to have spent on these women raises questions, especially considering the fact that the guy is just on a USD 300 government salary.

When the MDC was formed in 1999, we promised to do things different from Zanu PF. One of the things that we attacked was the polygamous lifestyles of ZANU PF hierarchy where we accused them of spending state resources to fund their messy luxurious lives. I am sure they still do as we might have seen in the stories that also exposed ZANU PF hypocrisy of criticising Morgan Tsvangirai while they also have huge marital dramas starting with the president himself who was exposed to be sleeping with his current wife before his late wife died.

This constituted adultery on Mugabe’s part but to use this argument to counter Morgan Tsvangirai’s weaknesses is unreasonable because the MDC was formed to be different from ZANU PF. Voters do not vote MDC- T because they will do same things as ZANU PF. One thing I noted in this whole saga was the silence of MDC-T’s top brass to come in public to defend Morgan Tsvangirai in this issue.

I wonder what that means but the fact of the matter is that Zimbabweans suffer corruption, violence and other evil deeds from ZANU PF and those that want to lead us must pledge and act differently from Zanu PF. We don’t want another illogical counter argument where if MDC-T becomes violent, we get an answer that says ZANU PF is even more violent. Food for thought.

Today, Zimbabweans battle to remove ZANU PF from power because their leaders have in the past years demonstrated resistance to accountability, choosing to be intolerant and ignorant to the nation’s concerns. For many years, we have battled for freedom of speech and the protection of individual freedom. As we may all know, resistance to these begin with leaders who don’t want to face public scrutiny, leading to them not being accountable to anyone.

It might not be fair to say Morgan Tsvangirai is resisting public scrutiny because we did not hear a single word from him criticising those who criticised him in last week’s fiasco. Mostly, it was his supporters, most of them who hold no important positions in his party that sought to crush our views. . I find this behaviour appalling because supporters worldwide have a tendency to encourage leaders to continue with strange behaviours without scrutiny.

Zimbabweans know this from ZANU PF’s Robert Mugabe, who at one point was committing genocide being encouraged by his supporters who at the time were saying it was right for Mugabe to kill and maim people in the southern parts of the country. What we did not hear from Morgan Tsvangirai though is a public apology from him agreeing to the fact that his marriage woes have taken a lot of public time instead of that time being used to debate matters of service delivery and good governance which we need as of yesterday.

It is our future that we are trying to protect and doing so is a big package which includes the fact that that those who hold public office must be available for public scrutiny. Blaming all these on state security agents is a bit like giving them too much credit. Zimbabwe’s intelligence has for many years ben given too much credit as if they are invisible yet the things that they do are possible for other people to do. The only reason why we do not do them is that we seek to be politically different from Zanu PF, with an approach to provide freedom to all Zimbabweans without fear or favour. A fight against intolerance is a fight for a future that is devoid of the scourge of corruption and lack of accountability.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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