MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been battling ill health for a long time, and this spectre of sickness could not have come at a worse time, when his all-time nemesis, President Robert Mugabe, is out of power.
This situation could have probably presented Tsvangirai with his best chance ever. But fate is often cruel.
And as the former Prime Minister’s health continues to deteriorate, it is quite clear that he may not be able to pull off an electoral race in his present condition, and the need to have a new leader in MDC-T has never been so clear despite the fact that some of his die-hard supporters would rather he be their 2018 presidential candidate.
In that case, they would be no different with former First Lady Grace Mugabe during her all-time peak when she declared Zimbabweans would vote for Mugabe’s corpse if he died, as there were no suitable candidates to replace him in the ruling Zanu PF party.
Of course, Grace was supported by equally crazy characters in the form of former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, ex-Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao in this phantasm. The gang of four is now history and nursing their egos after they were scattered and politically bruised.
This used to be the bane of Zanu PF, something which the opposition supporters would not expect from their leaders.
It is rather unfortunate that the opposition party Tsvangirai founded at the turn of the millennium, and which he has led over the last 20 or so years, could be split, with his three deputies Nelson Chamisa, Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe angling to replace him.
We believe the best gift that the MDC-T can offer Tsvangirai in honour of how he spearheaded the opposition establishment is to be united as they confront a rejuvenated Zanu PF under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Clearly, they may not win the next election, but they will make the ruling party sweat and that is the essence of democracy.
The worst that the MDC T can do is to self-destruct. The writing on the wall is quite clear that all is not well in the party, and it would be sad for Tsvangirai to leave at a time like this.
In this context, if the MDC-T principal’s allegiance is with Tsvangirai, it is imperative for them to close ranks and go into the elections as one solid and united front.
If they fail to win this year’s election, keeping the party together with Tsvangirai out of the picture is going to be an insurmountable task. They should do the right thing now, and perhaps resolve their in-house squabbles afterwards.
The key principle is that they are better off united despite personality clashes. They need each other at this time more than ever before because every vote counts. It would be sad if they are going to divide the vote among themselves.
They need to be aware that Zanu PF is busy mobilising its voters to register while they are busy fighting each other, and with their supporters unsure of what is going to happen.