Tsvangirai’s arrogance a disappointment

The claim by Morgan Tsvangirai in his address to party supporters in Masvingo recently to the effect that MDC-T would collapse if he was removed from its helm is nauseating and constitutes an unnecessary own goal both within his party and the country at large (The Zimbabwean 10 October). “If you remove me that will be the end of it and you all know that” he is quoted as saying.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai

As I understand it, MDC-T was not formed by one person as Tsvangirai’s statement seems to imply, but by a core group who then sold it to the nation. And those who joined in droves were committed to the ideals on offer rather than driven by blind loyalty to the core group, much less the founding President Tsvangirai himself. They all are just as much part of the project as the founding pioneers.

How different things have turned out to be from the Tsvangirai I first saw and heard in Kensington Town Hall, London in MDC’s early days when he humbly told the audience that he did not have the monopoly of wisdom and ideas, or words to that effect. As I understood it, this implied that he and his party would be receptive to constructive ideas and criticism. How different from the ‘one man show’ that his latest statement implies. This arrogant statement is undoubtedly a typical example of Lord Acton’s famous dictum to the effect that ‘Power corrupts and corrupts absolutely’.

Ironically Tsvangirai’s statement resonates with Robert Mugabe’s infamous statement at one of his Zanu (PF) Congresses when he said [on the party’s leadership] “There are no vacancies”. Both leaders, consciously or otherwise, undermine and at worst, insult, their followers – whether or not any of them aspire to leadership, albeit not a crime in itself in a supposed democracy.

Tsvangirai’s statement, unwittingly or otherwise, implicitly exposes the party’s poverty in personnel whereby of all the hordes of followers none of them except himself has the calibre of party leadership. How can an outsider contemplate joining a party in which one person, be it the founding President, is bigger than the party? How can an outsider want to join a party that would perish if its current leader was out of the way by death or otherwise?

I may not hold much brief for Job Sikhala but at least I would concur with him when he decried the personalised names of the MDC formations [MDC-T, MDC-M now MDC-N) even if it was to distinguish between them. For Tsvangirai in particular, it could have contributed to his notion that he and his party were inseparable. Perhaps it is high time MDC-T seriously considered an alternative name.

All in all, Tsvangirai’s statement has been an unfortunate own goal, not only a gift and ammunition to his traditional enemies or detraction, but also a disappointment to many of his loyal supporters along with those outside the party who had looked up to him, whatever his shortcomings, as the one viable alternative to the status quo.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis
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