HARARE - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should carry out a forensic audit to ascertain where they erred in the just-ended elections, analysts have said.
President Robert Mugabe, 89, polled 61 percent of the presidential vote while Tsvangirai polled 34 percent in an election which Sadc and the African Union (AU) have said was free.
The 61-year-old former trade unionist on one hand blames the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) — the body charged with running the elections — for the stunning outcome and massive rigging by the revolutionary party which has clung onto power for the past 33 years.
But political analysts say Tsvangirai should look no further than his door step saying a significant portion of the blame lies within the party.
Over the years, Tsvangirai gained a reputation and respect due to his emotional connection with the grassroots.
But analysts say he had developed dictatorial tendencies and stuck to his “kitchen cabinet” which seldom opposed him.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Shakespeare Hamauswa says this is about the time when MDC took a downward slope.
He said when the MDC joined the coalition government with Zanu PF, it concentrated on rebuilding the economy, reviving social service delivery while their partners in government took the opportunity to recover and regain credibility.
“Their strategy (Zanu PF) was to regroup and encourage their members to register to vote,” Hamauswa said.
“The MDC on one hand was busy rebuilding the economy and they neglected to build political power. They were economically correct but politically wrong.”
Hamauswa said Tsvangirai’s failure to deal with internal divisions which were worsened after the primary elections cost the MDC dearly.
“The MDC was not prepared for this election, their primary elections were another challenge as it left the party divided,” he said.
“Tsvangirai failed to deal with divisions within his party; he should have given those who opposed him a lifeline. He should have promoted them and that way he would have them on his side but he decided to protect his own and cut off those who opposed him.”
Analysts also argue that Tsvangirai behaved like a junior partner in the coalition government, allowing Mugabe to ride roughshod over him.
They say he spent most of his time lobbying for support from the region, EU and US instead of concentrating his efforts on reconnecting with the people where he derived his mandate.
He also neglected key areas such as the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the labour movement.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of Zimbabwe Institute for Democracy, said the party had broken ranks with its key allies.
“The labour and social movement of 2013 was not the same as that of 2002 and 2008,” Ruhanya said.
“There were lots of divisions even in civil society and there was also a lot of brain drain. Although rigging was a major problem, there are internal problems within the MDC which they should look into.”
He said there was also imposition of unpopular candidates.
“The Dangamvura/Chikanga issue is an example of how MDC leadership was not in touch with its structures. The people wanted Arnold Tsunga but the leadership wanted (Giles) Mutseyekwa,” he said.
MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the party’s leadership was willing to accept criticism as long as it was constructive.
“We are not beyond reproach as a leadership, we have done and continue to do self-introspection but the truth is we did not lose this election, it was stolen from us,” Mwonzora said.
He went on to say the party was now in a process of regrouping and re-strategising.
In other mature democracies, when leaders fail three times, they step down. But Mwonzora said it was all a learning curve.
“After all this fraud, we have become wiser and more self-critical,” he said.
Job Sikhala, leader of MDC 99, said the survival of MDC depends on how they will be able to reorganise themselves.
“It depends on how they will be able to rise up from the setbacks and repackage themselves and how they can rebuild confidence in the people to vote for them again but what I also understand is that there is also a huge constituency outside there that did not participate in these elections which are interested in a third generation movement,” Sikhala said.
NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku, who is also a former ally of the MDC, has already expressed interest in filling the gap for a third generation movement.