Tsvangirai's UK trip that rattled Zanu PF

HARARE - It started as a simple invitation to MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai to address the Royal Institute of International Affairs, but it appeared to have severely rattled our colleagues from what we have come to know as a party that claims overwhelming electoral victory but with underwhelming delivery on the ground.

Tsvangirai has been on a week-long trip to the UK. His hectic schedule in London began with his address at Chatham House, moved up to engagements with top EU and UK government officials and culminated with his interaction with Zimbabweans at a rally in Birmingham.

Even before Tsvangirai went to the United Kingdom, I counted 17 stories in the State media all denigrating Tsvangirai for being invited to speak at Chatham House.

The Chatham House invitation was not an issue when Zanu PF’s Walter Mzembi was invited to speak at the same forum in November last year. It was an issue when Tsvangirai was invited ostensibly because his invitation to speak at this prestigious forum debunked the myth that he had become finished political goods after the election of July 31.

Since the last election, Zanu PF has been at pains to depict a politically finished Morgan Tsvangirai, even though their daily posture sends out a completely different message.
We have come to enjoy the daily denigration of Tsvangirai by those who claim he is politically finished.

The basic rule in political communication is never to mention your political opponent, especially when you say he is finished because by doing so you are confirming their relevance to the national discourse.

You cannot claim that we finished with Morgan Tsvangirai on July 31 but continue being preoccupied with him and chanting his name, even to the extent of talking about him for 45 minutes at a funeral where he is not the deceased!

The unintended consequence of attacking his UK trip even before he left Harare was to unwittingly publicise his visit and send the message that Tsvangirai so matters to the national discourse that he is worth mentioning every day in State newspapers and even in anonymous columns associated with Mugabe’s office.

The unintended consequence is the positive spin it ends up giving to the Tsvangirai brand, when a whole State machinery is fixated on Morgan Tsvangirai and his aides at the expense of a crashing economy!

Despite the intention to portray a vanquished brand, the number of stories dedicated to Tsvangirai seemed to instead boost his national profile and to couch him as a figure of national and global significance and relevance.

The contradiction has always been that if Tsvangirai is finished politically as claimed, why waste acres of space talking about him?

One Nathaniel Manheru thinks having a meeting with the UK government is based on the misconception that we are still a member of the British Commonwealth.

It is lost on him that where the EU wants to unconditionally re-engage with the illegitimate regime in Harare, it makes diplomatic sense to meet with EU members — and the UK is one of them.

The problem with Manheru is that he thinks he is very smart while everyone else is an idiot. The only daft person, dear Manheru, is a whole presidential spokesperson who dismally lacks the conviction of his conscience to speak under a pseudonym that has dismally failed to hide his identity.

The daft ones are the message sentinels who allow their boss to say the economy is on the mend when the reality is out there for everyone to see.

You don’t have to pretend to be incognito. A man of your position, Manheru, must speak on record, in broad daylight and not through nocturnal platforms from whence he derives his pseudonym.

But just as a barking dog will not stop a moving train,  Tsvangirai went to the UK and executed his business despite the shrill calls of political jealousy by enemies of democracy.

Notwithstanding the wild cheers from people of all nationalities as the MDC leader walked the streets of London and Brentford, Tsvangirai did not leave any doubt whatsoever that he remains a fountain of hope for the distressed people of Zimbabwe.

Apart from the Chatham House address, he had bilateral meetings with key leaders in the UK government, in the EU and also met with Trade Union Congress leader Frances O-Grady.

Just before the rally in Birmingham, the MDC leader with the leadership of the UK and Ireland province and the Lord Mayor of the city, councillor Shafique Shah with whom he discussed various areas of co-operation with MDC-run cities in Zimbabwe.

He addressed a press conference in Birmingham where he took time to respond to various issues from the crisis in the country to the barrage of personal attacks that have become media fodder over the years.

As a journalist myself, I saw the extent to which the two-decade old Zimbabwe crisis had cost the country’s media fraternity.

I saw a friend and a former classmate in journalism school, Lance Guma, who is now running nehandaradio and Nehanda TV, far away from his home country.

I saw and interacted with many fellow journalists Tichaona Sibanda and Makusha Mugabe, some of whom have joined the MDC abroad.

Though I had no opportunity to speak to him, I knew that my former friend and workmate, Mduduzi Mathuthu, was somewhere in the United Kingdom in the feverish hunt for fresh air after what I still think was his stupendous  decision to hug a hyena with the hope of remaining alive.

After all his engagements in the UK, especially with the Zimbabwean community at Birmingham, Tsvangirai’s spirits remain high.

The fixation with Morgan Tsvangirai is enough testimony to the magnitude and indestructibility of his brand.

Even though you claim he is politically finished, the decibels that continue to ring around his name continue to unwittingly grant him further existence in the national psyche.

But of course, truly daft political communicators will never grasp these basics in political communication. And that is why some of them write to impress and not to communicate!

*Tamborinyoka doubles as the spokesperson to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and director of Information and Publicity in the MDC.

He writes here in his personal capacity.

Comments (18)

What else could this man say of his boss. It may well be true that his trip was a success at least as far as the mdc t are concerned. But what about the squables happening within the party? Don't you think that these donors would be equally concerned about them? Could it be that they are also persuading morgan to cede power to another from his mdc - who knows - may be tendai biti or mangoma or any other?

taurai - 6 August 2014

Tamborinyoka is a genius and has outshone most of his peers in pursuing professional journalism. MT is the face of the opposition whether one likes or not-ask the likes of Professor Ncube & Tendai Biti who thought the masses are easily swayed by high academic credentials. You don't have to be a constitutional law professor or a lawyer of note to resonate with the masses. To Luke I say keep the good work up and shame the detractors who are now dining with ZANU (PF) at the expense of the toiling masses. Biti & Ncube were the chief negotiators for their respective parties during the disgraced GNU and should shoulder the blame for its failure to implement agreed reforms. MT's visit to the UK has come at the right time because it has afforded him the opportunity to put the record straight about the goings on in the fractured MDC.

Chief Charumbira - 6 August 2014

@ taurai, I am sorry but I disagree with the premise of your argument. The article above is de-bunking all the rhetoric from our erstwhile friends in government who, for the better part of the year have tried albert unsuccessfully to write the obituary of the people's movement. As flawed as Tsvangirayi the man is, and as dysfunctional as the MDC may look, the truth is that should not distract from the real failures of ZANU-PF. For the whole year, they have governed without interference as Mugabe would like to say, from the opposition parties and what do they have to show for it. As for the squabbles within MDC, surely you should know that these are growing pains and necessary in every political entity which seeks to compete at the national level. ZANU-pf for all we know has and continues to have internal squabbles. The irony is that only RGM has managed to keep the lid on the boiling pot before all the burning frogs jump out... if you know what I mean. So save your critic for actual issues, where are the jobs, that were promised., where is the economic

tino - 6 August 2014

MORGAN IS STILL THERE WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT. ZANU MAY WIN THE 2018 ELECTIONS, BUT ONCE MORE MDC WILL COME SO STRONG. ALL I ASK FOR IS THAT MDC SHOULD LOOK AT THE TRICKS ZANU IS TRYING TO USE TO WIN BYO ESPECIALLY THAT ALREADY THEY ARE BRINGING IN NUMBERS/PEOPLE FROM OUTSIDE AND MUDEDE IS REGISTERING THEM. SUCH SMALL THINGS LETS NOT OVERLOOK THEM. MUDED IS THE MAN WHO WINS ELECTIONS FOR ZANU. HE HAVE TWO VOTERS ROLLS ONE FOR ZANU AND ONE FOR THE NATION AND IS THEREFORE ABLE TO BALANCE NUMBERS WHERE ZANU IS FAILING.

s - 7 August 2014

One idiot told the nation that,Mugabe was ZANU PF & Zimbabwe belonged to Mugabe. Ironically,Mugabe himself once publicly declared that Tsvangirai was dead&buried.But how can Britain invite a dead person?These ZANU PF hypocrites castigate the West during daytime but secretly go to the West with begging bowls. Thanks to the freedom of speech in the WEST. MT is very much alive & kicking, working to free ZIMBABWE; hence (PF)PATHETIC FOOLS's outcry over his UK invitation.

kukabira - 7 August 2014

You make a very clear argument Tino that zanu does have nothing to show for their year long solo in government. Things have in fact declined when compared to the GNU season. That is true as it stands currently. However that does not justfy why we should believe that one person is indispensable. If any thing, that would come to hound us in the future. I dont see why one person should be unilterally the face of opposition. Why not the whole party being the face of opposition? Imagine how difficult it appears he is to dislodge him from power while he has not yet put his hands on state apperaturs and what it would be when he has the securoctats behind him?

taurai - 7 August 2014

@ taurai the case here is that they is a goliath (mugabe) and the israelist army is afraid of him and therefore a david has come up. let us give him a chance to use his sling. because we are judging him before he has even pulled a short at him, he continuely fails. in some cases we try and dress him with our over size armour.

s - 7 August 2014

I have tried hard to follow taurai's commends but he talks a load of rubbish.I think he is just another Mugabe bootlicker.At best he criticizes MT but offers no solution whatsoever.MT needs meaningful criticism NOT taurai's NONSENSE.

RAKAROHWA RIKAZHAMBA - 7 August 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 7 August 2014

Until he got to share power, Tvsangirai was quite promising. I think he lost the plot when he messed up his moral integrity to begin with. Then comes the same problem we are facing with handiendes. My argument is; if we allow people to continue unchecked, we risk the country falling into the hands of people who do the same zanu thing - that is refusing to cede power. In all fairness, the man did his best and for that i am very greatful. However, he is not the last man standing who may be the alternative to the current leader. Surely even within your ranks there must be someone capable to carry the mantle on. If not, then that must be the sorriest happeing to the MDC. I am not talking zanu but MDC. Tell me not that you dont trust your leadership with another other than mr Morgan and one may conclude that such a scenario poses a threat to the future of the MDC. Thats only a light view point.

taurai - 7 August 2014

Thank you Mr. Tamborinyoka for sharing with us the relevance that Tsvangirai still holds despite his opponents telling us that he is dead and a nobody. Why would somebody who is dead and a nobody make headlines everyday on both the private and the public newspapers, not to mention what we know for sure to be dead-The ZBC? At state funerals, instead of speaking the good deeds in rememberance of the deceased, our leader chooses to speak about this nobody who he would love to have us believe died on the 31st of July last year.

Dr Know - 7 August 2014

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fivestar - 7 August 2014

The undeniable truth of the matter is that CHEMATAMA AKAFAMBIRA MASHANGURAPATA!!

ZVOKWADI - 7 August 2014

Zvokwadi,the undeniable truth is,''YOU ARE AN IDIOT.'' All your comments betray you...

DEKETEKE - 8 August 2014

Taurai,first replace your indispensable Mugabe in ZANU PF then try to do the same with Tsvangirai,your enemy number one.

MATINYAMUTINYA - 8 August 2014

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