THE bold steps taken by MDC-T and MDC-Alliance leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the last few years on the country’s political arena is a breath of fresh air as it is a complete departure to what Zimbabweans have been subjected to since independence.
That Tsvangirai has found it proper to prepare the opposition and millions of Zimbabweans for life without him shows true statesmanship and the calibre of leadership the country is yearning for.
We are aware that many have in the past equated Tsvangirai to ousted former Zanu PF leader and President Robert Mugabe who superintended the country’s demise, but the MDC-T leader’s moves are a complete departure from the destructive Zanu PF political culture. Mugabe was forced out in November last year after 37 years in power. Two years ago, Tsvangirai took a bold step to disclose to the nation that he was battling cancer of the colon and he immediately appointed additional vice-presidents.
We believe despite his failings, Tsvangirai demonstrated unparalleled leadership qualities by openly revealing that he has been afflicted with colon cancer, a move that may also give impetus to the national campaign against this silent killer that has claimed thousands and devastated many families in its various manifestations.
It is not disputable that the major challenge of African politics is centred on leaders who do everything in their capacity to hold on to power for as long as it takes. In fact, if it were possible, they would even prefer to die in power, like what Mugabe had wanted to do. It does not matter to them whether or not they are incapacitated to continue in their positions.
It is against this backdrop that Tsvangirai must be commended for his moves which sets him apart from some of the political leaders we have had in this great nation. We hold no brief for Tsvangirai, but his move shows he believes in leadership renewal within the party he has led since its formation in 1999.
Leadership moves in cycles, and wise leaders are able to discern when their cycle ends and the need to pass on the baton to the next generation. Such a move sets a good precedent for political leadership renewal in Zimbabwe – not leadership based on so-called “stockholders” or stakeholders, whatever that means.
One person comes in, makes their contribution and moves on, leaving the post to the next person so that they can also make their contribution and so on.
Accepting our limitations as leaders is an indicator of wisdom. Tsvangirai has demonstrated such wisdom by acknowledging that he has run his course and it is time someone else takes over. The rigorous election campaigns require someone younger and stronger.
This is critical for the opposition and Tsvangirai has shown us the way. When necessity demands that one makes an exit from politics, they do not fight it. One leads by example as a true leader.
Tsvangirai has spent much of this year travelling to South Africa for treatment, taking him away from his party’s business and that is not good for the party.
In fact, the ex-Premier should be honoured for the many years he demonstrated courage and bravery fighting against the brutal Zanu PF hegemony at great personal cost.
Clearly, he will always be remembered as an opposition politics hero. His life is important. He deserves to bow out with respect and dignity. And he must be accorded such a dignified end to a long and gruelling political career. History will certainly not forget Tsvangirai, but other leaders must emulate his focused leadership for the country to progress.