MDC-T has to hope for the best and prepare for the worst

Conway Tutani

Painful as it might be, some things have to be said and sorted. Whether you like it or not, they cannot be postponed or shelved any further.


It has been courageous — not outrageous — for Eddie Cross to begin the discussion openly about the serious health issues surrounding his political ally, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition MDC-T party.

Cross has broached the subject maturely with carefully-worded remarks, which only those with malicious motives can misconstrue — and, according to normal distribution of the good and the bad in society, there are plentiful of those bad characters who will turn this into some conspiracy to oust Tsvangirai.

Wrote Cross this week on his blog in an article titled Life is not fair:

“… he [Tsvangirai] is suffering from an aggressive form of colon cancer.”

Aggressive cancer means a tumour that forms, grows, or spreads quickly. To state this clear medical fact, one does not need to have been to the school of medicine, but MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora chose to disparagingly refer to “Dr Cross” in a classic case of shooting the messenger instead of the message. This was uncalled-for.

Cross used the right, appropriate decent language — not the shocking, incendiary, demagogic, hateful, crude and cruel language spat out by one Jonathan Moyo in the past week, obscuring, stigmatising, distorting and lying without compunction, referring to his sick Zanu PF rivals as reacting from the side effects of anti-retroviral drugs without definitive evidence of that, and getting away with it. Does anyone in Zimbabwe utter hate speech more than Moyo?

Is this over-aggressiveness due to emotional baggage from childhood trauma, such as painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from past emotional rejection?

Continued Cross: “He [Tsvangirai] has been struggling with his treatment and the family is concerned that he might not handle the [2018] election [campaign] …”

No one is celebrating Tsvangirai’s illness — like the depraved Moyo is doing against his opponents — but it’s there on websites that “in aggressive cancer cases, cancer cells can often become resistant to standard treatment options, and patients may, therefore, exhaust these options very quickly”.

That’s the gravity of the situation facing Tsvangirai, his family and the MDC-T, so there is no need to put on brave faces, behaving as if the problem is not serious and does not worry you.

Cross ruefully observed: “After a lifetime of principled struggle, to have it all threatened by a disease in you body — life can be a bastard at times.” These are Cross’s exact words. Can it get more empathetic than that? Can the words be misconstrued or misinterepreted by any well-meaning person, inside or outside the MDC-T? To top it all, Tsvangirai and Cross have been political bosom brothers.

One “Sorojena” reacted against Cross thus:“No, ‘Brand Morgan Tsvangirai’ is the one that sells for now. Let’s get him in and once he wins, then he can leave the Presidency to a younger person.”

This is one of the worst assumptions that I have ever heard, disregarding any potential disaster. Let’s not throw caution to the wind. Let’s not deliberately ignore the potential risks and negative impact of that. The risk factor is very high. So, it would be the height of irresponsibility to leave it all for after the elections when anything could happen at any time. Let’s be realistic, and not leave it all to fate.

“Shepherd Moyo” chipped in: “Can we, for once, stop as Zimbabweans to be distracted by things like this? If Zanu PF is not distracted by the fact that President Robert Mugabe is 93 and cannot walk without stumbling, and also suffers from ill health, who are we as MDC-T to be distracted by Morgan Tsvangirai’s ill health?”

One, it’s not that in Zanu PF they are “not distracted by the fact that (Mugabe) … also suffers from ill health”, but that his health very much an issue because if it wasn’t, they would not be this intense infighting to succeed him, which has been escalating in the past three years in tandem with Mugabe’s visibly deteriorating health.

Two, it’s not a distraction, but reality that Tsvangirai is ill — and seriously so. There is need for realism — that practice of accepting a situation as it is and dealing with it accordingly. There is need to face reality — the state of affairs, as they actually exist, as opposed to how one might like them to be. There is need to be realistic — having a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected, representing or depicting a way that is accurate and true to life.

For instance, MDC MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga’s recent claim that at the very least 76% of MPs are HIV-positive can’t be true to life or accurate, thus, it is not realistic. It’s a gross and wild exaggeration. Let’s not make excuses for such distortions like one “Sikhosana” did when I pointed this out last week. “Sikhosana” fumed: “He [myself Tutani] wastes time in statistically analysing the figures in Priscilla’s comments, when it’s clear that those were only meant for emphasis and not statements of fact!”

Need the somehow intellectually-challenged and mixed-up “Sikhosana” be reminded that: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” You can’t fabricate, bend and twist statistics to suit your own warped, a priori or preconceived opinion.

In that vein, it’s not an opinion, but a fact, that Tsvangirai is seriously ill. Anything can happen at any time. So, people need to recover from the initial shock and even denialism and begin to see things as they really are. They should look at all scenarios including the worst that could happen. In all this, they should have a positive attitude, but make sure they are ready for anything.

We all get into such most difficult and unavoidable situations, don’t we? Like when a loved one is critically ill, we hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Need it be reiterated that it’s most risky and, ultimately, foolish not to look at all scenarios?


  1. Honestly speaking it is evil to ride on tsvangirai’s name straining him in the process and speeding him towards death.tsvangirai is under seige from selfish comrades who cant stand for the means the mdc has its factions too.those defending him as a brand are must be technically eying his post and they want his reputation and charismatic appeal to win them the throne for them.they may even kill him after the election victory to take over power.politics stinks eish

    • Spot on, it pains to think that all that done people want is to achieve “their” goal no matter what the cost is! Maybe Tsvangirai’s doctors should have the final say here not power hungry cadres who inwardly are celebrating and would want to push him over the cliff by the hussles of campaigns before they themselves reap the throne. No to that!

  2. The truth hurts for a while but a lie hurts forever. The sooner we realise that we are all human and prone to illnesses and ultimately death, the better. Zimbabweans should learn to embrace political divergence placing the interest of the nation first where any potential leader can steer it forward. I have said it, time and again that Zim cannot be equal to either Tsvangirai or Mugabe and will remain long after they are gone, We must learn to adapt forces of nature that we can’t defy. The truth will set us free.

  3. Personalisation of politics in Zimbabwe made worse by Tsvangirai naming his MDC faction MDC-Tsvangirai and Mugabe painting himself as ZANU PF is at the centre of Zimbabwe’s political crisis. Tsvangirai’s health notwithstanding, change of leadership in public organisations is a necessity otherwise we will remain slaves to individuals with the consequences that we’re currently seeing.

  4. Comment…Tsvangirai is ill, that’s the truth and people have to admit that. the idea that one name in a party can lead for ever even from the bed is killing Zimbabwe. its unfortunate we live in an environment where greediness is priority. shame

  5. thanks. even here in byo people just want to demonstrate against cross when he said nothing bad about tribalism. its sad. thank you for putting the way you said it. my president is ill. he might struggle to lead on. we love him. it will be sad to go on without him, however it will not be the end of everything. his legacy will live on dead or alive. him out will not mean that’s zanu forever, in fact it might mean the finalization of its fall. all of us are saying to the president, your falling sick while in the struggle motivates us to want to free ourselves more. be of good cheer, because your enemy will fall. you can kill a revolutionist but you cant kill the spirit of revolution which morgan and others have introduced.

  6. The physiology any disease that affects the digestive system is bad enough on its own, much worse when cancer is at play. Perhaps if he had looked for Vitamin B17 we’d have longed tamed the illness.

    The kind thing to do now is to allow him to battle the disease with out the responsibilities and expectations currently being placed on the man. Elect a new leader of the party and alliance whilst there’s still enough time to ‘brand’ that individual and sell him to the people. The opposition will stand a chance if they so do, not that the ruling party is having it any better!

  7. I think the MDC-T has to move forward. I strongly believe that a younger and healthier candidate elected by the people and supported by Tsvangirai himself will never lose an election. I also think that if he goes around telling his supporters that for the good of the country and party they need a healthier and younger candidate this will also shock zanu pf and send them back to try to revise their strategy. I attended many zanu pf rallies this year and their strategy is based on talking as much as possible about Tsvangirai’s failing health.

  8. I am trying to understand what it is you are saying Conway but all I am reading is you hitting back at someone who criticized you and shooting Pricilla and Jonathan but not delivering any new message or useful info. You are not saying anything we dont know already! Guess I am in for it next week!

    • Tom, you are the odd one out, the only one out of 10 responses so far still trying to understand, and not seeing any new message or useful info. This makes you thick. As for next week, you don’t have to be in it by simply not reading the column as the column is not compulsory reading.

  9. you put all the facts well and good Mr Conway ,we need to think of MDC without Tsvangirai not because we don’t like him or we don’t appreciate his contribution to the struggle but because they exist some forces of nature that are beyond our human control .now to avoid a ZANU Pf like situation were the part is in total disarray, a sense of direction need to been implemented within the party

  10. When the President of Zanu P.f is regularly out of the country for medical reasons; there is always a sense of de javu and excitement in the opposition corner anticipating his demise!
    But nature has a unique way of teaching us how to behave when our adversaries are suffering………..
    Since time immemorial the Zanu P.f. Leadre has as reported in the so-called independent media or private media died more than 10 times, but we are not told of his miraculous Resurrection….

  11. conwell tutani u have a vendetta against MOYO why did u not quote him the way u quoted cross yet he categorically specified that it is the ndebele that l stalling mdc alliance.if tsvangirai is sick that is not his place to speak it in due time tsvangirai will speak out and the mdc constituation guides his party.kutaura kwausina kuswera

    • g40, you are part of the tiny minority jealousy brigade.The majority of the readers are more than happy with the column, and know what? The majority counts.

  12. Comment…Let’s give Tsvangirai a chance. At least let him contest the election acharega ega kana zvakusaita akatongawo 1 term osiya vakomana murume uyu akabva kure.

  13. A great piece from you Mr Tutani perfect advice for the situation I hope it will find ears and takers

  14. Comment…Please stop making this guy’s current state of health an issue. Tsvangson is a failed politician, period. As much as the likes of Tutani would have one day hoped to have him as their president, the reality is that will never happen. He failed when he was more than100% physically fit when the best he could do was to run away to Botswana and only come back to drink tea at State House and destroy the original MDC because of his dictatorial tendencies. The real deal now is within the ruling party as to who eventually takes over. The reality is tsvangson’s medical state mirrors that of the party he leads and, sadly, his “licks” too. He ran his race and lost a long time ago and the sooner people realise that, the better

  15. The greatest weakness of the MDC has always been its total inability to plan for worst case scenarios regardless of repeatedly experiencing such scenarios. I recall Paul Themba Nyathi, then MDC Elections Director, in the early 2000s, sharply rebuking me for asking what would the party do if Mugabe stole the March 2002 Presidential election. His view was that there should never be such thinking within the party because it would be a source of despondency. As we all know, the rest is history. It is now necessary and urgent as Morgan is now back, that the party replaces him, whether by a special congress or other constitutional means, and get on with the job at hand of working to remove Mrs Mugabe and the ZANU PF cabal from power forever. Political parties should be institutions bigger than the leader, and capable of going ahead successfully even under the current tribulations the opposition faces in Zimbabwe. I wish all progressive forces in Zimbabwe well for the sake of the nation and our children.

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