Will Tsvangirai prevail?

Simply because Tsvangirai has failed in the past does not make him an undesirable choice for the millions of Zimbabweans out there who want to see the back of Mugabe.


I am going to try to remove any bias I may have and objectively look at the political opportunity we have to remove Zanu (PF) from power at the next elections. Of course such elections must be free and fair and cannot be run by a ZEC that is controlled and manipulated by the party as we saw in 2013. In addition, we cannot have partisan army, police and intelligence services working against us. Whether this is possible at all remains to be seen.

There is no doubt in my mind that MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai remains the most popular opposition politician in Zimbabwe despite his failures. I think a majority of ordinary Zimbabweans still support him and are rather married to the idea that only he can decisively deal with Mugabe. This is a fact, whether we like or not, and it will continue to determine any success of other opposition parties.

Of course we have academics world-wide who have written Tsvangirai off, but we must always remember that these are theoretical or academic analysts and most have not done any practical research on the ground to measure the extent of Tsvangirai’s support or lack of it. So we should not hurry to conclude that these analyses are correct, it would be dangerous for us to do so.

No credible opposition has emerged to occupy the vacuum left by the disappointment of millions in the last elections and by Tsvangirai’s uninspiring behaviour on issues of accountability and fidelity. Questions on his “suitability” still remain, but the masses hardly use the same criteria as we do when it comes to electing their leaders.

Zanu (PF) continues to lose credibility every day as they blunder through and continue to be represented by a 90-year-old whose days are clearly numbered. The more the party digs in, the more blunders they seem to make – especially when it comes to Mugabe’s failure to decisively deal with corruption and the economic hardships that all are experiencing. The increasing taxes and the continued opaqueness and in the deals that Zanu (PF) is entering into, particularly with the Chinese, are inadvertently increasing the likelihood that they will be dismissed from government if we hold free and fair elections, there is no question about that.

These blunders will continue to strengthen Tsvangirai as the only viable alternative or political brand out there that can truly challenge Zanu (PF)’s monopoly. There also seems to be the tendency among our opposition parties to avoid risk and seek a comfortable removal of Zanu (PF) without acrimony. This is a delusion which shows they have not learnt from the past. A good example is the recent condemnation by all and sundry of Tsvangirai’s desire to confront Mugabe through mass action. This reflects a lack of political maturity within opposition political parties and within the infamous Pentecostal churches. Zanu (PF) will never play by the rules – history and experience tell us so.

Given therefore that no strong credible opposition force has yet emerged and that if any does, it is highly unlikely that it can, within the next four years, eclipse the grass roots support that Tsvangirai has unless something drastic happens , Tsvangirai could be the only hope we have for removing Mugabe.

If we add to this the lack of resources for new political formations and the lack of unity among them, I think it is dangerous to write Tsvangirai off at this stage. It is also highly likely that after the MDC-T October congress, we may see a stronger and more decisive and confident Morgan emerging.

In my opinion, the real and only alternative to Tsvangirai could be the Renewal Team but their cause has not been happily accepted by the masses at this stage who feel, rightly or wrongly, that they deceived Tsvangirai and were complicit in creating his failures.

The masses have their own mind and it seldom make their leadership choices as a result of logical analysis. It is mostly driven by emotion and the lack of a new Mugabe challenger, nothing else. Positive emotion and hope are still attached to the MDC-T brand and no matter how we may not like it; that is the reality on the ground.

It may therefore be to our advantage to forgive Tsvangirai and acknowledge that millions of Zimbabweans still think he deserves another chance. Who are we to deny him that? After all political power is about numbers and not theory. – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at [email protected]

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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