Like many Zimbabweans the results of this election has left me speechless, but not entirely shocked.
By Gracious Chihuri
It has been more than a week since Zimbabweans took to the polls; it’s difficult to fully digest the results and what they mean for every one of us. One thing I know from experience is that these elections like many before them have come and gone. The struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe has been dealt a massive blow.
The elections were rigged, stolen or won whichever way we want to look at it. One thing is certain in my mind, there will be no election until when they are constitutionally due. But, so where does the struggle go from here? Who will lead this struggle is now a very legitimate question that every progressive Zimbabwean should now ask.
The art of being a good visitor is knowing when to leave.
After 14 years as the face of this struggle I think it’s in the interest of democracy for Morgan Tsvangirai to set a good precedent and pass this baton to someone else. Surely he has had a fair crack of the whip. Now is time for him to concede defeat and make way. I am not saying he should congratulate Zanu PF on their so-called landslide victory and concede defeat to them. But I am merely saying in the interest of democracy and leadership renewal he should resign as leader of the MDC-T because he has failed to deliver victory against Robert Mugabe three times. There are also several reasons why I think he should quit as soon as the dust settles.
How Tsvangirai gifted this victory to Zanu PF
I, like most Zimbabweans are under no illusion that this election was somehow rigged and fraught with numerous irregularities. But it wasn’t Zanu PF’s job to stop their own victory. There are so many strategic blunders that Tsvangirai himself and the MDC-T made when they went into government.
Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s chief defender.
As soon as he started drinking tea with Mugabe, he took it upon himself to go round the world sanitising the man, telling everyone to our astonishment that the man really isn’t the monster they think he is. Really, now how are you going to spin this round and tell us, ohh I made a miscalculation, he really, really is a monster after all, and who is going to believe you now? Prematurely sanitising Mugabe wasn’t his job.
Tsvangirai the flip-flopper
The man never sticks to his word, his tenure has been characterised by flip-flopping from one issue to the next, and issuing empty threats. Unfortunately this has been feeding in to the Zanu PF narrative of portraying him as weak, indecisive and unprincipled leader. Is this not the Tsvangirai, who at some point gave the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) a clean bill of health, oh yes Zec! Only for calling for it to be disbanded a few days before elections. Was he not calling for elections to be held in June only to change his mind?
Tsvangirai backing a dead horse
I know he and Welshman Ncube don’t see eye to eye, but couldn’t they just set their differences aside in the national interest. But I don’t think their differences were as insurmountable as Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo’s, but if these two could sit down and iron out their differences in the national interest what stopped Tsvangirai and Ncube? I am not saying Ncube is an angel, but the blame mostly lies with Tsvangirai. This for me is an unforgivable strategic blunder he personally made. He decided to back a dead horse called AGO (Arthur) Mutambara. A man who had no known constituency, was obviously defeated or gave up power voluntarily only to go back on his word, was never going to contest in the elections after all. Why back a looser when the clear winner is there, with tangible benefits?
When Lovemore Moyo temporarily lost the speakership, to his credit Ncube instructed his MPs to vote for him, and they duly did, and he was elected with their help. I thought this was an opportunity for the two to start working together and narrow their differences in time for elections. But this gesture was never reciprocated by the Tsvangirai faction. If Tsvangirai had simply backed Ncube from the start that could have clearly laid out the ground work for a coalition. For Tsvangirai to start inviting Ncube when separate primary elections had already been done for both parties was just plain naivety on his part. Zanu PF was the biggest winner in this strategic political miscalculation. If Tsvangirai had worked with Ncube, the two would have ganged up on Mugabe and maybe got better concessions, than to align himself with Mutambara who always sided with Mugabe.
Tsvangirai the damaged/compromised brand
The brand “Tsvangirai” was built on being “one of us, mumwewedu”. However, Zanu PF wanted this brand destroyed and that “mumwewedu” narrative buried. The first thing they did was to give him a house, instead of a finished one, gave him one to renovate to his own taste. He was given millions for the project. He duly took the cash, fell into the trap in the process, renovate it to his true test he did, in the process the brand was compromised if not irreparably damaged. Haru Mutasa Aljazeera correspondent while waiting Tsvangirai’s Press conference at his residence tweeted; “we are in awe of Tsvangirai’s palatial residence, it’s enormous and looks very expensive . . . he lived well”. Is this consistent with “mumwewedu” brand? Now mumwewedu or chedu as most would call him is now going to address rallies in designer shirts with patches, leather sofas, red carpet everywhere he went, where these not premature comforts? How about paying lobola for one woman and five months later wedding another one, did all this go unnoticed in the voter’s mind?
Tsvangirai’s record in government
Although the coming of the MDC-T into government no doubt brought relief and some stability for the Zimbabwean people. I think Tsvangirai’s record in government was generaly poor. Zanu PF did everything to frustrate him and his ministers, but they could have done a hell lot especially in the towns they were controlling. Harare residents and all the other urbanites didn’t really see any change from the previous Zanu PF regimes, corruption, mismanagement of funds, water shortages and portholes were everywhere. Tsvangirai could have used this platform to show the people of Zimbabwe what he was really capable of. He could have used his influence to go to his so called friends from the West and begged for machinery, equipment and money to radically transform these towns and in the process convince villagers that if he could do it in the towns it could also filter down to them. How was Ignatius Chombo going to interfere with this? Even in his rural home if he was effective Joseph Chinotimba wouldn’t have won in his backyard or rigged in his backyard!
Failure of MDC-T to attract real talent
Again the blame lies squarely on Tsvangirai’s door. Zimbabweans are the most educated people in Africa, but why are the brainy ones not in the MDC-T leadership? Why is Zanu PF always out-thinking, out-smarting, out-strategising and out-manoeuvring the MDC-T? Where are the strategists in MDC-T, where are the Jonathan Moyos, George Charambas, Patrick Chinamasas, Emmerson Mnangagwas of the MDC-T? Why is it 14 years later the Lovemore Madhukus, Brian Kagoros, Zhangazhas don’t want to associate themselves with the MDC-Ts. Have these people been shut out of the MDC-T because of their intellect, independence of mind or what?
Who will take over now?
As I have lamented above, the MDC-T has either failed to attract talent or frustrated talent from its ranks, and this might come back to bite them. I don’t see anyone from the top six in the MDC-T who can take over, and who has a broader appeal. Maybe, Nelson Chamisa, but he is still young and still learning his trade. Tendai Biti, his record in government was good, he can andamburate, but that’s all there is to him, so who else then?
What are the MDC-T options?
If I am brutally honest these are limited to none in so far as this election is concerned. Their court challenge is a waste of money and time, because at the Constitutional Court they will meet Godfrey Chidyausiku (anodya usiku) and that will be the end of it. Our judiciary is heavily compromised and hence you can’t realistically expect a miracle to come from there. Sadc and the African Union have already endorsed the results, so diplomatically there is nowhere they can go. Protests will never happen, who wants to die so that someone continues to stay in Borrowdale/Highlands?
Way forward for Zimbabwe.
As Zimbabweans I believe we need to move forward, we have talked down our country a hell lot in the past few years, and we have all suffered as a result. It’s time to talk it up now for a change. Regardless of what happened, elections are over, and they will come again when they are due, in the meantime let’s all work in the national interest. For Zanu PF I hope they will be magnanimous in victory, and realise that their so-called manufactured landslide doesn’t mean total endorsement of their policies. They need to move from their extreme right and try to govern from the middle ground a little bit to accommodate the majority. The Herald, ZBC and other institutions need to be professionally run like they used to prior to the Jonathan Moyo era and the same with many other government institutions. The country needs to move forward and heel.
Just my most humble thoughts.lFeedback: firstname.lastname@example.org