Morgan Tsvangirai is fighting the battle of his life. Even if he survives, which he just might, he will come out of it all the worse for wear.
It’s mostly his fault. He must have seen, particularly in the past five years, the limitations of his personal brand vis-à-vis the demands of the party brand, for the two are different creatures altogether. He didn’t realise this.
His personal charisma allowed him to survive his peccadilloes, such as his little liaisons with a superfluity of women of questionable character.
He is hardly the only one who has been saved by this personal pulling power in the face of moral blameworthiness. A lot of this happens all over the world; one only has to take an interest in French politics, where it is taken for granted that the ruler has at least one mistress. In Italy too, as long as the mistresses are not under age, the leaders can have as many bunga-bunga parties as they wish.
The MDC brand was a little different because it had set objectives, all driven by the mission to depose President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party from power.
Tsvangirai’s brand fell short in that regard and as a consequence, the party brand flopped too.
It’s much like in a troop of baboons; if the alpha male ages and can no longer serve the group’s general interest, the bachelors begin to be mischievous and quickly push it out.
It always happens with a bit of a fight, which is what we are seeing now.
Tsvangirai ought to have allowed leadership renewal which would have elevated him to the status of an elder statesman. The younger leadership would have continued to be beholden on him for guidance.
It’s not too far-fetched to envision a situation where the new leadership would have called him back towards the 2018 elections because none of them has the same pulling power. Whether they like it or not, only Tsvangirai can group the critical mass that can effectively challenge Zanu PF.
But the motivation of the “bachelor gang” to wring power from Tsvangirai is suspicious. Is it money or power?
It is clear that Tendai Biti and his group are favoured by donors; they have already begun to throw around the largesse.
It is equally clear that the same donors have deserted Tsvangirai.
But Biti will be foolish to believe that donor money will see him through.
And, it is also clear that political formations can only begin to have any real influence after at least 10 years of existence.
The MDC had an immediate impact in its nascent years because the political atmosphere demanded it.
It’s hardly the same now. The MDC rebels must be aware of this and that not until at least 2023 will they be able to bring anything to the political game.
So, they have, without any doubt, pushed the drive for change backwards by at least a decade.