HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsTsvangirai should have known better

Tsvangirai should have known better

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WHEN the unity government was formed in 2009, the idea by Sadc was for political parties that had been at each other’s throats for ages to find common ground and collectively create a conducive environment for credible polls that would not be contested.

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A lot was invested by local, regional and international players to try and ensure that this dream becomes a reality and Zimbabweans would get their right to freely vote for leaders of their choice.

What had to be eliminated were environments and conditions which had affected the credibility of the 2008 Presidential election run-off, in which Zanu PF stood accused of clamping down on the opposition to ensure that President Robert Mugabe retained power, even through unorthodox means. Mugabe, representing his Zanu PF party, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai standing in for his MDC-T and Arthur Mutambara from the MDC were made principals in the coalition government.

The three then embarked on their mandated journey, reconstituting bodies like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and shared cabinet ministries in a give and take arrangement.The Sadc facilitation team made countless trips to Zimbabwe, meeting stakeholders in a bid to see to it that what the parties agreed to was implemented in letter and spirit.

Protracted negotiations were held and Tsvangirai is on record as lauding composition of the Zec and the ZHRC in particular, which he recently backed, saying he was confident they would perform to expectations. This was despite outcries from civic groups and some critics in his own party that changes made at the crucial bodies were nothing but cosmetic.

Zec’s secretariat, in particular, was accused of being heavily infiltrated by State security agents, while the ZHRC chairperson Jacob Mudenda’s hands were deemed unfit due to his alleged involvement in the infamous Gukurahundi of the 1980s which left an estimated 20 000 Zimbabweans dead.

The same was said about the ZMC, tasked to ensure media reforms, a mandate they dismally failed as the country remained with a single television station while radio licences for new players were awarded to Zanu PF sympathisers. One of them was awarded to Supa Mandiwanzira, who last week won a parliamentary seat on a Zanu PF ticket, while the other one went to Zimpapers, whose allegience to Zanu PF is well-documented.

Instead of taking heed and refusing to bow down, Tsvangirai had the temerity to back the appointment of Zec chairperson Rita Makarau and Mudenda, saying he was confident their commissions would do a perfect job. Pampered with niceties which come with his top job in government, the MDC-T leader did not put a fight good enough to ensure change in these strategic institutions. Without a voters’ roll, unclear origins of ballot papers, overwhelming evidence of unofficial polling stations, Tsvangirai had reasons good enough to stop this poll and demand an even playing field, in tandem with instructions from Sadc when the unity government was formed.

However, despite all the evidence he had, the MDC-T leader vowed to contest and defeat Zanu PF “resoundingly”. Now elections have been held, Tsvangirai has lost dismally — a result that was foreseen by many — and the MDC-T leader is crying foul. You slept on the job Mr Prime Minister, knowing very well the kind of characters you were in bed with.

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