MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai made some noises this week on the ongoing corruption scandal that has hit hard parastatals and other State-linked business entities, but generally his response has been weak and patently disappointing.
Before getting into government under the Government of National Unity (GNU) arrangement, Tsvangirai had been in opposition for quite a while articulating to the Zimbabwean people everything that was wrong with the Zanu PF government.
One of the weaknesses he correctly pointed out was corruption. His stance resonated with the majority of Zimbabweans who began in their millions to support him and his party. He won the presidential election of 2008, some argue he had earlier won the 2002 one. In both cases, it would seem he was denied the key to State House through blatant electoral fraud.
Tsvangirai’s weak condemnation of the ongoing revelations of corruption shows how, during his four-year stint in government, he and his party slept on the job. During the subsistence of the GNU, he forgot to do what he had to do. He did not fight the corruption he had so clearly articulated during his time in opposition.
Instead, he personally embarked on a colourful lifestyle that kept him away from the realities taking place in government.
In the end his stay in government is known more for his peccadilloes than for real attempts to correct Zanu PF’s wayward governance. By omission therefore, he was complicit in the corruption that proliferated in government when he should have led the fight against it.
Some of the parastatals that have been seen to be most corrupt were run by ministers from his party. When this is brought to them, the former ministers argue that they had no power to intervene because in most cases they had Zanu PF deputy ministers and permanent secretaries who made sure they had little say in how these entities were run.
This timid argument cannot be allowed to hold water! Former MDC-T ministers and parliamentarians emerged from the GNU inexplicably wealthier — and fatter — suggesting they were beneficiaries of the rampant corruption happening in government and parastatals.
It is known some of them hooked up with the Zanu PF ministers and deputy ministers they worked with in the free-for-all looting of State resources.
This makes Tsvangirai’s tentative stance now almost laughable. Here is a man who slept on the job now being nudged to wake up by the same people he was supposed to expose while in government.
And, does Tsvangirai ever think of this as a lost opportunity? If he had exposed all these scandals that are in every newspaper now, wouldn’t he have weakened Zanu PF to such an extent that he just might have won the elections?
Tsvangirai has let down this country by denying it a robust opposition that would have put the checks and balances needed to put Zanu PF to account or, better still, deposed it from power.