Is it Tsvangirai or the system?


After being virtually robbed of victory in 2008 — where the winner became the loser and the loser became the winner — it was never going to be easy for the main opposition MDC-T come 2013. In fact, it was going to be harder next time around because the system had been rudely awakened to the reality of loss. So, they had to avoid that grim prospect at any and all costs.


This resulted in last year’s devastating — but very controversial — defeat of the opposition, which plunged them into the depths of despair.

Yes, the blundering of the opposition cannot be overlooked. Instead of cutting deals, they were cutting each other’s throats over a prize which was not yet within their grasp.

They fought for a slice of an ever-diminishing cake, squeezing themselves out of political space already much unfairly shrunk by the anti-reformist Zanu PF — as seen in their contemptuous disregard of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) — with the latter enjoying this at the ringside. Such folly and futility is what prompted the observation by former United States judge Walter P Stacy (1884-1951) that “men have gone to war and cut each other’s throats because they couldn’t agree as to what was to become of them after their throats were cut”.

Indeed, the opposition has lacked tact and vigilance. After united MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube and the late Renson Gasela were almost tricked into uttering treasonous statements by Zanu PF-paid Israeli spy Ari Ben-Menashe (described by Justice Paddington Garwe as “rude, unreliable and contemptuous”) in 2002, they should have shown greater political nous to work together despite their different tendencies, but they allowed the system to further infiltrate, divide and weaken them. With the ruling class torn between patronage and populism — as seen in endemic corruption and disastrous economic policies — which made people extremely angry and poor — the opposition could have made headway if they had remained united. Some of these characters should never have been in politics in the first place. They should have left politics to real politicians.

That said, the MDC-T struggled to utilise their popularity to pressurise an entrenched ruling party to reform. The GPA — signed in 2008 at the height of the self-induced economic meltdown — was like a deal with the Devil, but was the lesser of two evils compared to anarchy. And the people had clearly reached the end of the tether; any interim relief was most welcome.

Furthermore, due to gerrymandering that gave additional weight to voters in rural areas last year, the support for the MDC-T was so diluted as to become insignificant. Its support in urban areas was swamped and Zanu PF was able to garner the majority of seats in Parliament.

What we have is an unfair political system in which Zanu PF controls State institutions, broadcast media, and buys the loyalty of traditional chiefs who act no differently from the party’s political commissars ensuring voter registration, taking advantage of the fact that rural folk are vulnerable to coercion.

That is what the political system in Zimbabwe has become. Such repressive systems die hard. It takes enormous efforts to get rid of such long-ruling parties. From the formation of Zanu PF in 1963, it took 17 years to dislodge the Rhodesian system which had been in place for 73 years prior to that. It took 27 years of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment for the South African apartheid regime to relent.

So I find the article by Takura Zhangazha this week titled Tsvangirai’s generation has failed us quasi-academic. Quasi-academic refers to discussion that is “too theoretical and hypothetical, as to sound not practical, realistic, or directly useful; an academic discussion of a matter already decided; learned or scholarly, but lacking in worldliness, common sense, or practicality”. They haven’t yet failed “politically and electorally”, as the writer rhythmically claims. The contest has never been fair and the natural inclination is to sympathise with the underdog, defined as a victim of injustice and persecution.

Every country has a political system. Where there is fair contestation in elections and regular, constitutional change of government and transfer of power, the system becomes democratic and accountable; it does not become too entrenched to become self-serving and repressive.

That’s the fundamental difference between China and India, the most populous nations in the world. India has been rightly described as the world’s biggest democracy and has been ruled by different political parties since independence in 1947 whereas China only knows Communist Party rule since 1949.

So has Zanu PF entrenched its system since independence in 1980 and, going by their adoration of everything Chinese, including getting tips on how to win multi-party elections from — of all places! — a one-party state that does not hold democratic polls, it doesn’t appear change will come soon.

So, it’s not that the opposition has not been up to the challenge, but that the system has not supported — in fact, has fought against — their best, honest and legitimate efforts to effect change procedurally and peacefully as desired by the people whenever and wherever.


  1. they are real failures zhangazha wz ryt……we are sick n tired of advising them but vakaoma musoro DEAD N BURRIED as mugabe said.controversy after controversy aaaaaaah ndanetawo ini!

  2. my friend’s mom makes $77 hourly on the computer . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay check was $15241 just working on the computer for a few hours. this link……


  3. Tsvangirai is out of play, there are many issues at hand that require the so called winner Zanu pf to deal with. It has been six months now, what has the new government done so far? Let the people stop wasting time talking about the past and deal with future. THE ECONOMY

  4. Tutani, old as you are, you should know that not everybody agrees with your views. The same goes for Zhangazha. He is entitled to his views and opinions. Why do you think that your views supercede all other views in society? What irks you is that Zhangazha has spoken against the failure that is Tsvangirayi.

    • @Gudo, I found your contribution nauseating and silly. Conway has not asked anyone to accept his point of view. All he has done is comment on what Zhangazha said in his contribution, which apparently was such a myopic analysis by an intellectual lightweight.

    • Gudo, Tutani and Takura are debating not quarelling. Its health for our economic discourse. In fact both of them are correct. The opposition has failed coz it is not focused and the system makes it difficult for anyone to dislodge Zanu PF.

  5. muchohwe.
    a good sense of humour can untangle a seemingly complex puzzle you know.
    ever since that time long ago when it was conclusively established that fiction is the best part of our fact, muchohwe is inside this ring. believe it or not !!

  6. Zanu pf and Mandela took years to remove the oppressors but lets agree that vaive vaine belief imwechete neruzhinji. They had a common goal with the common man in the street and the rurals. Right now can you talk of principles in Tsvangirai’s camp? Can you talk of Morals that we can identify with Zimbabweans in MDC T? Angavhotere vanhu vanenge hove iya inonzi hunga ndiyani? What’s their position on Homosexuality? Mugabe is a dectator thus what Tsvangirai say ko why suspending Kay weku Marondera? Why imposing candidates if they are ‘democratic’? And what does Zimbabweans feel about it? Nhasi Gono imbavha mangwana ndimi mava ma lawyer ake and you think people will vote you into power? Who are these animals in MDC-T representing between us Zimbabweans, Europeans or their own intrest?

  7. A lot of words saying nothing. If I read correctly, u are saying the”system”which of cuase is a Zanu system,does not allow mdc to win? Surely in yor right senses wud u make it ease for an opponent to win? The onus is on the oppressed to free them selves. Thous, the mdc shud find ways of fighting injustice.

  8. “The system(read ZANU-Pf) has not supported – in fact has fought against- their ( read MDC-t) best, honest and legitimate efforts to effect change procedurally and peacefully as desired by the people ( read their supporters and backers) wherever and whenever!” The “system” Mr Conman, is not in the business of facilitating reactionaries and neocons to revise the peoples agenda of empowerment, indigenisation and land ownership. It should be the “system’s” primary objective to disable, disarm and destroy all such threats to the peoples agenda “wherever and whenever.”

    I would say the “system” executed perfectly in the last elections. The challenge now is fixing the economy, I believe the “system” is naive to even entertain the notion that the west will back-off and relax the sanctions for anything less than a complete reversal of all the gains achieved for the people on land and in empowerment. No effort and resources will be spared by the West to preserve the world order, all options are firmly on the table! It’s not enough for the “system” to be principled, uncompromising and resolute in it’s commitment to improving the people’s lot. The “system” needs to smarten-up bigtime and pretty fast and consider all the options on it’s table. As a starting point the “system” needs to deal ruthlessly with the cancer of corruption and the emergence of power dynasties. These weaken the peoples resolve to support the “system”. It should be one of the “systems” primary objective and motivation to create and maintain a perfectly seamless alignment between the “systems” desire for self preservation and the change in the peoples livelihood. The “system” Mr Conman should destroy all threats to this alignment and not even be apologetic about it! Power, Mr Conman lies with the people, at the point the “system” looses it’s relevance, the people will destroy the “system”, that will not need your instigation, motivation, propaganda or sanctions. The people, Mr Conman, will take the necessary actions and measures “procedurally and peacefully!”

  9. Conway, you say: “they should have shown greater political nous to work together despite their different tendencies, but they allowed the system to further infiltrate, divide and weaken them. … the opposition could have made headway if they had remained united. Some of these characters should never have been in politics in the first place.” Good observation, but still you are in total denial, Conway. Takura looks at Tsvangirayi as an icon of democratic resistance who lost his cause. As leader of MDC, it was his responsibility to unite the party; his responsibility [also in 2013] to refuse to participate under conditions he very well knew were grossly undemocratic. You hate Welshman Ncube [the one you subtly refer to in the phrase ‘leave politics to REAL politicians’] and you no doubt blame him for ‘splitting’ the MDC. You avoid ‘naming and shaming’ Morgan Tsvangirayi and choose to immunise and insulate him in a ‘systemic excuse’. But then again, this is a democratic discourse. Some of us were priveleged to be in this ‘struggle’ since 1999 and so when people like Takura throw ‘quasi academic’ brickbats at your hero, we know they mean well. The more, Conway, people like you take punches on behalf of Morgan, the less he will be predisposed towards reform. Talk to his Parliamentarians, provincial chair persons, etc, sponsors and handlers and am sure you will appreciate Takura’s ‘skewed’ opinion. I thank you.

    • Well said Mr Rejoice, no need to over-emphasize, but that its just a pain when some “brown-envelope journalist” want to act as if Tsvangirayi is immune to criticism, it is through such behaviors that we end up brewing another dictatorship

    • @Rejoice- You dont think you are going a little below the belt using innuendo and inferences to buttress a point here? I think for writer of note we would expect you to stick with the article rather than inferences like Tutani’s support for Tsvangirayi or his dislike for Ncube. Why dont you ciriticize Tutani’s take on this article without making it glaringly obvious that your differences with Tutani have absolutely nothing to do with the above article..I do not see anything wrong with Tutani showing preference for Tsvangirayi eitherway in as much as you also show preference for that not what democracy is all about? What I think is unfair is because of these preferences there is this unwillingness to listen to a fresh perspective from our perceived adversaries. Takura made one cardinal mistake..he is a card carrying member of the NCA and he could not be allowed to get away with misrepresentations..I mean posing as an independent analyst with a bent against the MDC like you and Tutani are wont to do against ZANU comes with the territory but this does not make you card carrying members of either MDCs. In fact both you and Tutani have criticised the MDCs spiritedly in the past. This is as it should, because it is your obligations as opinion shapers to call it as you see it never mind where your sympathies may lie. Now Takura comes out running with the hares and hunting with the hounds…this is not professional..Declaring one’s interest will give credibility to posts not this underhand hatchet job couched in journalistic licence. I guess what I am saying is all publications have some kind of bias ref the authorities. Some are found at the centre (supporting) of the authorities, left, right, left of centre and right of centre and so on but what they try to do is be professional about how they carry out their reports. Declaring one’s interest is the first step in getting this credibility or end up like Mahoso and so called ZBC analysts who are scared of revealing their allegiance to ZANU. Takura should have made his case as he did but he should have told his readers that he is an NCA apparatchik then we would have read the article with this in mind..

  10. This Tutani guy is definitely an idiot and half, you should understand that the Newsday is a respectable national paper and you should stop abusing it as a mouth piece of the MDC-T, I as much as you try to make your views neutral your clear bias towards the MDC-T is always vivid. Considering your age, you should have known by now that, that kind of journalism has no place in a democratic soceity that we are fighting for. There is nothing wrong in Takura Zhangazha’s article but there is everything wrong in your article when you quickly jump to the defense of Tsvangirayi in a national paper reducing it to the “Changing Times”, that Harvest House Printed paper that never saw the light of the day beyond July 31, 2013. We would expect you to give a sober balanced analysis other than act like a quasi/pseudo Luke Tamborinyoka, as such, allow Luke to do the propaganda for the MDC-T and you focus on giving balanced articles, unless you and the editor are now telling me that the NewsDay is now the official mouthpiece of the MDC-T…..grow up old man

    • @Nwena- Calling fellow travellers idiots does not make us better than them..and using words like grow up old man, do not make us sound clever at all. Why not stick with the topic and lets hear what you have to say minus the emotion..Otherwise everything becomes clouded and whatever point you are making is lost..No?

  11. Many thanks for this…I think the whole nation not just ZANU and MDC have to redefine their value systems. What good does it do to be in power and not be able to deliver on your promises..not one. As for the MDC your position on issues has to be known, not this one day you are gold the next day you are chaff. ZANU for all their faults have this knack of sticking with decisions good or bad..shoudnt the MDC take leaf from this? As for Takura Zhangazha, he should at least have let us know he is NCA before posing as an independent analyst..this is false advertising!

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