Tsvangirai has himself to blame

HARARE - The public apology delivered by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the 13th MDC anniversary at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday had an uncanny way of reminding us that ‘‘to err’’ really is human.

It really doesn’t matter who you are, at some point people can find themselves in the doghouse for something they said or did.

Tsvangirai was facing a Public realtions nightmare of immeasurable magnitude.

In a rare apology from a top political figure in Zimbabwe, he said he was sorry about his flings with several women before he settled for the imposing Elizabeth Macheka, apologising for the first time in the face of growing criticism among even close MDC allies who were pressing for a public reprimand of his conduct.

The Prime Minister has been under increasing pressure to apologise for his actions.

“I know the road I travelled to make this choice has been rough and has been filled with all sorts of trouble, but I am glad I eventually made my choice,” Tsvangirai told 20 000 supporters at the anniversary, referring to his wedding last month with Elizabeth Macheka.

Clearly uncomfortable addressing the matter on a national stage, Tsvangirai spoke amid withering criticism that his actions were immoral and harmful to the nation.

By accepting his transgressions, Tsvangirai acknowledged what he did within his private life was unacceptable behaviour for a national leader.

His words drew wild praise from MDC delegates to the anniversary.

There has been unprecedented public rebuke with some even suggesting that the nation must further express its disapproval through an electoral rebuke, censure or reprimand.

But Tsvangirai has said he regretted his relationships, and fully took responsibility for his actions.

He was direct in admitting his mistake and seeking forgiveness from his litany of distressed damsels.

“I had no intention of hurting anyone,” he said. “It was a genuine search. I want to apologise to anyone who has been hurt.”

He said he could not disagree with anyone else who wants to be critical of what he has already acknowledged as inappropriate behaviour. Tsvangirai made a calculated decision to use the phrase “I’m sorry”.

He used the plain language of apology twice, that he had made a bad mistake, that it was indefensible, and he was sorry about it.

It remains to be seen if Tsvangirai’s handling of the affairs’ aftermath will earn him an apology from a nation getting weary of the scandal.

Critics rightly say he compromised his moral authority, damaged his credibility and complicated the efforts of parents seeking to instill values of honesty in their own children.

Admittedly, it is hard to ignore the impact of the misconduct the Prime Minister has admitted to, to Zimbabwe’s culture and national character.

Such behavuiour is not just inappropriate, but immoral. Hopefully, he has learnt his lesson. After all, to err is human.

So in summary, the explanation by the PM’s spindoctors that what we have here is an out-of-control intelligence agency with its own political agenda and vendetta, a blank check to spend millions to look into every nook and cranny of Tsvangirai’s public as well as personal life seem to have gained traction if events at White City are anything to go by.

Locardia Karimatsenga’s court challenge could have been enough to dent Tsvangirai’s image for good, but there was an apparent “overkill” when a second woman Nosipho Regina Shilubane also lodged her papers dishing out sensational details of their escapades, a move that earned Tsvangirai a “victim image”, which is a good thing in politics.

You add this to a zealous group of Zanu PF spindoctors and State media who fanned the flames and some members who in the midst of all this, were suggesting the PM was not fit for office. What you have here is a blatant, vindictive political case.

Apparently the Zimbabwean people figured it out a long time ago.

They know the truth of what happened. And the truth is very simple.

The Prime Minister had a string of illicit affairs with young women as he searched for a life-long partner after the tragic death of his much-loved wife of 30-plus years Susan.

That is the truth. Zimbabweans said it is wrong, but it’s personal.

He was single, so he did not violate any marriage oath, certainly not his oath of office.
It must however, be stated emphatically that Zimbabweans cannot condone this behaviour, that has been so thoroughly exposed and seared in the Zimbabwean conscious ad nauseam.

It is the sordid affair of all sordid affairs. The Prime Minister brought dishonour to himself.

He brought tremendous pain and embarrassment to his family, friends, colleagues and the MDC family.

His behaviour was totally at odds with his many achievements and conduct in his official capacity as Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister has stated clearly that he is sorry and he has asked for forgiveness.

We must all do so now and say it is time to put this sad chapter behind us; move on to the important work of rebuilding this great nation.  - Gift Phiri

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