MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in South Africa on Wednesday, remained a towering figure as he fought for increased democratic space necessary for the growth of business, business leaders said yesterday.
BY BUSINESS REPORTER
Since the launch of the MDC in 1999, Tsvangirai had been in the trenches campaigning for the opening of the democratic space.
He is credited with stabilising the economy after he agreed to enter the government of national unity (GNU) following disputed elections in 2008 in which he won the first round and did not participate in the run-off citing an upsurge in violence.
The economy changed overnight and inflation, which had breached past 231 million percent, was tamed after the country embraced a multicurrency regime in 2009.
His trusted lieutenant, Tendai Biti, was thrust at Treasury, where he embarked on far-reaching reforms such as the cash budgeting system, which meant Zimbabwe “ate what it had killed”.
Financial indiscipline would creep back when Zanu PF took over the reins after winning the 2013 polls.
Business executive Shingi Munyeza said Tsvangirai was the bravest politician “of our time”, who campaigned for fair play and good developmental policies.
“Evidence of that is when MDC was involved in the government of national unity, where there was best traction in terms of policy implementation to the benefit of the majority of Zimbabweans,” he said.
“His fight for increased democratic space allowed businesses to operate in an environment with checks and balances. To that, we are most indebted.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu said Tsvangirai founded an opposition political party against odds and provided the necessary checks and balances to the government.
“. . . during his entire political life as president of the biggest opposition party in the country, he brought about the needed stability in the country and economy by agreeing to join the Government of National Unity,” he said.
Mutashu said Tsvangirai was a “selfless democrat and a hero who fought for free, fair and credible elections”.
“The country should celebrate his achievements by ensuring the upcoming election is free, credible, fair and transparent,” Mutashu said.
Business executive Busisa Moyo said Tsvangirai did a lot for the opening of democratic space by creating a viable opposition.
“It [opposition] brings stability to business, as it puts whoever is in government on their toes to do the right things because there is a viable alternative,” Moyo said.
“He created democratic space and it’s a big contribution. He was somebody who was aggressive, shared his views and was willing to engage.”
A banker told NewsDay yesterday Tsvangirai was the epitome of confidence
“In 2009, the cash crisis was resolved overnight. This new administration is failing to deal with the crisis over 80 days into office. It’s about confidence, which the administration doesn’t have. With Tsvangirai, it was instant,” the banker said.