THE outpouring of grief across Zimbabwe and beyond was testament to the personality that the late former Prime Minister and opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Normally, “RIP” is translated to mean rest in peace, but for Tsvangirai, Zimbabweans across the divide transformed this to mean “Rest in Power”. Tsvangirai was and will remain the President that Zimbabwe never had.
Tsvangirai’s arch-political nemesis former President Robert Mugabe retained power by hook and crook denying Tsvangirai electoral victories at every turn from 2002.
A powerful orator, the self-taught son of a bricklayer, Tsvangirai had a natural connection with the ordinary people but was outsmarted by a dictator who refused to vacate office even in the face of defeat.
The military was accused of helping Zanu PF rig elections after seconding some of its staff to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), but Mugabe denied the charges, claiming he always won because of his “popularity”.
In 2002, Tsvangirai was denied victory by the combination of a military elite and an establishment that connived to give Mugabe a fraudulent victory when his popularity was at its lowest in the country.
Critics argued that maybe the margin of victory was not big enough but when Mugabe was left with an electoral bloody nose in 2008, again Zimbabweans were denied their President after the securocrats denied Tsvangirai the path to power.
Former Intelligence minister Didymus Mutasa in 2015 revealed that Mugabe lost the 2008 elections to Tsvangirai with enough votes to assume the leadership, but the late MDC-T leader had “developed cold feet and fled to Botswana”.
It was also reported that Mugabe was ready to cede power until then Justice minister and now President Emmerson Mnangagwa triggered a constitutional clause that required presidential contestants to get 50% plus one vote in order to take power.
The disputed official results were released after five weeks to the public.
“There had been signs that the MDC was headed for a victory, so security units were put on high alert and State House was fortified. All the generals were there. The JOC [Joint Operations Command] team arrived some time towards midnight on March 30 and immediately went into discussions with the president and the generals,” intelligence contacts have been quoted as having said.
“We learnt that the first thing he asked after being briefed on the results was if it was safe for him (Mugabe) to remain in the country. The initial position seems to have been that Tsvangirai could not be trusted and Mugabe asked if plans were being made to evacuate him. He suggested going to the Far East, but as time went by and more discussions followed, that was apparently reversed.”
Mugabe was saved and Zimbabwe was denied a new President. Tsvangirai was once again robbed of a stab at power by a conniving Zanu PF-military alliance.
With the country’s economy in the intensive care, Mugabe once again put himself up for re-election in 2013, facing off with the now late Tsvangirai.
Mugabe was 89 and at the time, it was unfathomable that Zimbabweans would elect a nonagenarian for a President.
However, returns from Zec showed Mugabe had won again, but it immediately emerged that Israeli firm Nikuv had helped the Zanu PF leader to robe the democratic movement of victory.
Tsvangirai was set to go head-to-head with Mnangagwa in presidential elections now set for July, but after losing his courageous battle with colon cancer on Wednesday, Zimbabwe was forever robbed of the only President the country will never have.