Opposition must tackle succession head-on

Morgan Tsvangirai

THE return to the fore of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai following a spate of illness has brought with it a healthy dosage of confidence in the opposition seeking to eject President Robert Mugabe from power in the crucial 2018 elections.

Quite clearly, in Tsvangirai’s absence, the opposition coalition, and the MDC-T in particular, would have looked out of sorts as their leader battled cancer of the colon.

But what this lean moment has shown is the need to start grooming leadership, and move away from the cancer afflicting Zanu PF — that of lack of leadership renewal.

Handing down the baton is a natural course of life because no man will live forever, but political parties must successfully outlive their founders. Many, however, are afflicted with the personality cult to such an extent that when the founding leader finally bows out, they go with their party.

It is, therefore, imperative for opposition leaders to be conscious of the fact that succession is not, and should not, be accidental. In fact, succession should not be left to chance, but should be carefully planned for continuity and stability purposes.

It must be properly planned for. The fear that Tsvangirai’s absence had stirred merely demonstrates that perhaps no one is able to fill in his big shoes.

Indeed, the opposition would want Zimbabweans to believe that Tsvangirai is their best foot forward, but we urge them to reflect seriously, as this means that the succession matrix must be plotted now. New leaders must be groomed to eventually take over.

It is good that Tsvangirai is a veteran politician who inspires confidence, which is one of the reasons why he assumed leadership of the opposition coalition.

But that culture of strong and inspiration leadership must be adopted as the norm, so that it ceases to be a one-horse race simply because other potential leaders were never groomed.

Political parties should be eager to create strong institutions as opposed to an all-powerful leader. We believe strong institutions endure and benefit all citizens yet all-powerful leaders with all power concentrated on the few creates dictatorship.

After so many years of fighting Zanu PF, Tsvangirai has accumulated significant experience and knowledge, which other members of his party, particularly those in leadership, need.

And this could be the right time to share such knowledge and experience as the party prepares for the future.

Zimbabweans should be reminded of their folly when they created an all-powerful Mugabe. Now he thinks he is the best thing that ever happened to this country.

Mugabe’s I, me and myself attitude is self-serving, nauseating and destructive of the national agenda.

The opposition should be warned that Zimbabweans no longer want anything like this anymore, and their support at the next election is premised on this one condition.


  1. Taura zvako `what more grooming is needed? when a person is someone’s vice in most cases that person will become the successor. It only becomes a problem when relations changes or some clever people want to overtake the vice. Even in organisations anyone appointed vice will automatically take over when the incumbent is gone.We have heard a lot of noise about the issue of grooming a successor but I think there is nothing like that .Any organisation has a hierarchy which in most cases is by seniority.Zanu inawo masuccessor who acts when the president is not there ,that’s grooming

  2. Nothing like that in a democracy;all parties were formed with constitutions in place which clearly spells the way forward.All members have capacities to lead even at the outset.The examples of Tsvangirai & Mugabe are clear dictatorships;lets not shy away fr saying louder.Those positions are supposed to b openly contested at the end of each stipuled times,by n member with n support among colleagues.But as to the reason why thisz not followed surprises.It means the incumbents would then employ certain muscles later acrued to entrench themselves even violating the very standing positions made at the out set.In AMERICA n nominee contesting elections will automatically become party leader during his/her tenure

  3. Today we have Museveni changing constitutions in Uganda;Tsvangirai did it with that of the MDC & probably Mugabe also several times.There are time limits set for n one in all political parties-but due to growing of political fans around certain personalities in the party thisz abandoned-which wrong

  4. Good observation the editor! I had similarly castigated this culture earlier in the week. Everything literally stalled following Tsvangirai’s hospitalization. Were the worst to happen, (God forbid!) the party would have equally crumbled as his deputies engage in supremacy wars. Putting our houses in order does not imply courting death. If we focus on the destiny, it is not who will oversee it that matters, but the success of the vision itself. Unless we drop our biased emotional allegiance, we shall remain politically retrogressive indefinitely. No wonder the mushrooming alliances destined to weaken MDC alliance in a prospective leadership stalemate.

  5. I think incumbent party leader ought have no hand in determination of his or her successor. ideally it ought be party members prerogative, within minimum necessary duration. Incumbent may choose his deputies yes. Who may succeed incumbent for brief duration of successor elections. There is no rationality in jostling for succession determinable by free elections. Ambitious party leadership ought be advised to focus more on improving their personalities or credentials, where possible. This suggestion better protects the valued leading potential successors , in addition to the essential education of ambition.

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