Mugabe, Tsvangirai in same corner?

HARARE - Political fortunes may have dictated that President Robert Mugabe and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai drift apart in different directions, but in their respective parties the two are like messiahs — indestructible and untouchable.

With both parties hurtling towards crucial congresses — it is patently clear that the two will be unchallenged and rule until “donkeys grow horns” to use Zanu PF national chairperson Simon Khaya-Moyo’s words.

Never mind that Mugabe is 90 and has given Zimbabweans the good, the bad and the ugly, there is none in the ruling party with the heart of steel to challenge him.

In Matabeleland and Midlands provinces they are thousands who are scared of and scarred by Mugabe’s 34-year-old reign, but the impending Zanu PF congress in December offers little hope that this could change anytime soon.

It is the same old tale downtown — where Tsvangirai has successfully warded off threats to his power — albeit at a high cost.

His former secretary-general Tendai Biti along with a coterie of  leaders like Elton Mangoma have left him.

Notwithstanding the sustained criticism on both Tsvangirai and Mugabe, the impending congresses are just “dress rehearsal shows” — at least on the apex posts — analysts say.
Dewa Mavhinga, chairperson of Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, a pressure group that champions civil liberties, said congresses in Zimbabwe’s hegemonic politics are mere window shows.

“In both Zanu PF and MDC, there have been a number of challenges to the top leadership but, in both cases, the challenges took place before congresses and were responded to outside the congress framework.

“Within Zanu PF, these on-going shenanigans including the arrest of the Sunday Mail editor (Edmund Kudzayi) accused of being Baba Jukwa, and the public dressing-down of Information minister (Jonathan Moyo) by president Mugabe all point to direct responses to subtle challenges to top leadership.

“In the MDC, the recent split resulting in the formation of the Renewal Team is also a reflection of challenges to top leadership.

“As a result, it has become a feature of Zimbabwe politics that congresses do not really result in leadership change as such issues are addressed well before the congresses,” said Mavhinga.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai have in the past fought bruising battles, so often against each other, they are sworn enemies, they accuse and counter accuse each other of all the unsavoury, but in their respective parties they occupy lofty pedestals that a few dare scratch.

Jacob Mafume, spokesperson of the MDC-Renewal Team said that is the reason why they left the MDC — the deification of Tsvangirai.

He said the congresses both in Zanu PF and the MDC are praise singing platforms.

“The congress is an endorsement, it is a praise and worship programme, and we will not be part of the crusade.

“It is North Korean in nature and would make Kim Jong Un green with envy. They will be 100 percent unanimity. It is a non-event,” said Mafume, whose party claims to have suspended Tsvangirai.

Rugare Gumbo, Zanu PF spokesperson said it is still early times to give details on how positions will be contested in the December-scheduled congress.

“We haven’t sat down to consider the procedures for contesting for positions. When we are through with the process we will tell you,” said Gumbo.

But history has some hard lessons for those who dare disturb the status quo. Zanu PF in 2005 suspended six provincial chairpersons, who had allegedly met at Dinyane Secondary School in Tsholotsho and plotted to thwart the ascendancy of Vice President Joice Mujuru — who was Mugabe’s choice.

The camp wanted to vote Justice minister Emerson Mnangagwa into the presidium.

The consequences were brutal. And by comparison the MDC tethered on the same path when Biti and camp were shown the door, analysts said.

Douglas Mwonzora, spokesperson of the Tsvangirai-led MDC, however, said it is unfair to compare the main opposition party with Zanu PF.

“The congress of the MDC will elect every office bearer ranging from the president to the lowest office bearer and unlike in Zanu PF everybody who is willing to contest the president will do so,” said Mwonzora.

In Zanu PF Mugabe has been the glue since 1980, but at 90 a few believe he will lead the party again in another election that will come in 2018.

For that reason eyes are now fixed on succeeding the strongman, who in his Machiavellian politics has kept all and sundry guessing — altogether refusing to anoint a successor.

Mujuru and Mnangagwa are believed to lead the race to succeed the aging Mugabe, but there is more than meets the eye, as the party is split along various factions that also include the army.

Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) said congresses involving the major political parties in the country have degenerated into rituals.

He said the motivating factor in the ruling party is fear of disturbing the status quo adding that in the MDC the party is losing the democratic compass.

“In Zanu PF it is a real fear of threats of violence and loss of political and economic security and a lack of a culture of democratic culture in that party.

“In the MDC, it is a case of a sad and tragic development of a culture of the antithesis of what that institution stands for.

“It is a culture of mediocrity, and misguided eulogy of leadership with no realisable quantitative and qualitative democratic values,” said Ruhanya.

Although Mugabe and Tsvangirai still have the charisma and appeal among the grassroots — Ruhanya said both leaders must “know that democracy dictates that no matter how popular a leader is, there is need to cede power even without elections to allow a culture of change of leadership.”

“These processes especially in the opposition which talks of democratic values should at some point change the leadership otherwise they become rituals or extensions of undemocratic systems that they fight against,” said Ruhanya.

Comments (4)

I see MDC T still having democratic values. Some of us believe in leadership renewal while we are still in MDC-T. The problem is that Biti and Mangoma went about it in a totally clumsy way. There was no reason for Biti and company to stand on top of a the tallest building and start to insult the person of Morgan Tswangirai. The way Biti and company handled leadership change instead exposed their dodgy leadership qualite. Biti could have raised leadership change with diplomacy and finesse. Why did they not put that up at the congress after good diplomatic ground work? If Biti and Mangoma failed to convince the grass root masses with breaking the party then they are failed leaders. It is possible for Biti to have assumed MDC-T leadership without insulting Morgan. Both men need each other. Team work is what we lack in Africa.

Mbareboy - 6 July 2014

Good comment Mbareboy. Biti is really greedy. I wonder how things would have been if the MDC-T had won!

Jindwi - 7 July 2014

Certain political analysts lack knowledge. How can one seriously compare ZANU PF with MDC-T? Who does not know that the confused BITI initially complained that ZANU PF rigged the election other constituencies only to make an astonishing u-turn later praising the same ZANU PF for winning a free&fair election?Who does not know that the 'BHORA MUGEDHI' slogan was directed at the ZANU PF cadres not the whole nation?Who does not know BITI's clandestine use of the blind Mangoma to attack Morgan? Some political analysts may freely sympathize with the pathetic 'renewal team'but the people of Zimbabwe cannot play in the hands of their enemies just to prove that they are democratic.

GAMBUKAMBU - 7 July 2014

We also know for a fact that this BITI actually spearheaded the MDC-T election manifesto & the election campaign.

gurakura dambachirashwa - 7 July 2014

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