'Tsvangirai still rules the roost'

HARARE - Notwithstanding the emergence of splinter outfits and their competing leaders, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai remains the most popular opposition leader in the country by far, a recent survey undertaken by local political think tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), reveals.

The report, titled Political Parties split in Zimbabwe: The case of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), analyses the effect of the fracturing of the country’s biggest opposition party and how this is eroding its support base.

A number of disaffected MDC luminaries — including its then secretary-general Tendai Biti and former deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma — walked away from the party last year, accusing Tsvangirai of acting tyrannically.

However, in its just-released report, ZDI says although Tsvangirai was weakened considerably by the 2014 split, the splinter party that was christened the Renewal Team started its life even weaker than the main MDC.

“The renewal group emerged from the split more bruised and tattered than Tsvangirai’s group. A majority (87 percent) believe the Tsvangirai group is way stronger when compared to the Tendai Biti group against 13 percent who think the other way round,” reads part of the report.

In his foreword, well-known human rights advocate, Dewa Mavhinga, said Zimbabwe’s opposition parties should coalesce if they are to form a formidable movement that can challenge the faction-riddled ruling Zanu PF, as was the case in 2008 when President Robert Mugabe was forced into a coalition government.

“This study established that the MDC-T split seriously weakened the party, although the Morgan Tsvangirai group remained significantly stronger than the Tendai Biti group in terms of grassroots support.

“Although the party was confronted with significant challenges, a split was not necessary and the party could have done more to avert it. The split has serious implications on voting intentions in 2018,” Mavhinga said.

Although Biti’s party and that of another former MDC secretary-general, Welshman Ncube — who was the first to walk away from the mainstream MDC in 2005 — are on the brink of uniting, the report says the fractured state of the country’s opposition political parties is a gift to Zanu PF.

“But with the 2005 party split and the recent 2014 split, there are concerns that divided opposition political parties can only serve to ensure Zanu PF’s continued stay in power.

“While the MDC-T once proved to be a viable opposition capable of articulating problems of the day and presenting voters with coherent electoral alternatives, the continual splits might weary the electorate and wane the party’s support,” the report reads further.

It further argued that Biti and Tsvangirai must come together and set aside their personal ambitions if they are to enhance the opposition’s chances of defeating Zanu PF at the 2018 polls.

“It might appear that re-unification is impossible, but in the sober interests of the democratisation of Zimbabwe such a step can easily be taken in a stride.

“This is especially so considering that the MDC-T was able in September 2008 to cobble a political agreement with arch-rival Zanu PF leading to a power-sharing government between February 2009 and July 2013,” the report said.

With Zanu PF in a state of “terminal decline” due to unending and often bitter factional flights and purges, the report adds that the MDC in its current weakened state did not have the capacity to change the country’s political status quo.

“It can be argued that the road ahead for the MDC-T after the 2014 split might be a long and tortuous one. Although the party will be in existence, it will face a challenge in wrestling power from the ruling party especially when it is weakened by splits.

“While the MDC-T party may continue to play a central role as a pillar of democracy in the wider society, it will remain in the periphery as long as it lives.

“The gains made by the establishment of the once vibrant party in 1999 are going down the drain and diminishing as disintegrations continually limit the party’s influence, making change in power through elections even more unlikely, thereby negatively impacting on the struggle to democratize through elections,” the report concluded.

Comments (17)

Please MDC T lets start working now so that we can win the 2018 elections. Come on Monzora, Gutu, the entire council, members lets formulate now.

Lever Dewah - 11 February 2015

Please MDC T lets start working now so that we can win the 2018 elections. Come on Monzora, Gutu, the entire council, members lets formulate now.

Lever Dewah - 11 February 2015

Morgan TSVANGIRAI remains a better and stronger brand than the Biti/Ncube brand, like it or not. It was weekened by split of both Ncube/Biti by 1.5%

Brian Chikwati - 11 February 2015

Morgan TSVANGIRAI remains a better and stronger brand than the Biti/Ncube brand, like it or not. It was weekened by split of both Ncube/Biti by 1.5%

Brian Chikwati - 11 February 2015

one man team like zanu then.

Galore 123 - 11 February 2015

tsvangirai failed on his party, and thus true, opposition politics is a thing of the past in Zim,,viva ZANU-PF

pedy - 11 February 2015

The problem is Zimbabweans have lived a lie for too long. From the war of liberation to independence from independence to now. And Mbiti and company tried to make the lie permanent, heh zanupf won because their slogan resonated with a chembere in Dotito and Chiendambuya, ah no they nikuved, ah they stole the vote, and we cannot live a lie for ever, even Mugabe himself found that a lie will always be exposed when he told his generals point blank that they helped him cheat MT from 73% to 49%. Mukadzi kana murume akaita botfriend kana girlfriend pane zuva ranosheedza zita rake pa wrong place.

maita - 11 February 2015

vanhu havagumi kutsvaga mari. hakuna kana leader one with people at heart, just fattening their pockets. i will never vote again

wind - 11 February 2015

tsvangirai akapinda muvanhu ano hwinha. dambudziko nderekuti most leaders are so detached from people. they have no clue about problems people face day in and out. by spending time with villagers, tsvangirai showed us that he genuinely has a heart towards the poor and that is what we want kwete conference after conference.

zvirozviyedzwa - 11 February 2015

Like him, hate him...MT still remains the one and only one opposition leader who is appealing to a broad-base of the populace. I do not think Tendai Biti or is he Mbiti let alone Prf. Ncube can dream of matching MT. TB and Prof Ncube are power obsessed lawyers who thinkbeing a lawyer traslates one to being a leader...NO NO NO NO ndaramba. If Ndabaningi Sithole was around he would have been a competitor

garikayi - 11 February 2015

The report is confused as it says MDC T was weakened bcoz Biti left the party it does not say or give examples of weaknesses it mentions . Tell us exactly the weaknesses bcoz we do not know those weaknesses . If today Morgan calls a rally at BF in BYO or anywhere in the country it will be packed so where are the weaknesses . Theories made by some suspicious characters can not be depended on , Weaknesses . weaknesses what weaknesses mention them . They are no elections now so it better for the party to work at grass roots level than wasting time on making noise that will change nothing .Whether you like it or not Morgan is the man and only politician liked in this country by all sane people .

Diibulaanyika - 11 February 2015

Let me tell you the unpalatable home truths - whether MDC-T unites with MDC whatever ZanuPf will win the 2018 mock elections hands down. The political field is skewed in favour of ZanuPF. I am not a mainstream politician but I there are things which I see which regrettably politicians do not see or deliberately ignore. 90% to 95% of people live in the rural area. These 90% to 95% are susceptible to intimidation and manipulation by ZanuPF which is in charge of Traditional chiefs under the Ministry of Local Government. Which means there are more voters in the rural areas (Reserves) who will vote for ZanuPF than voters in the cities who will vote for any of the MDCs. ZanuPF is in charge of the police and army and are able to coerce vulnerable voters in the Reserves to vote for ZanuPF and there is nothing anyone can do to stop the army, police and militias from coercing vulnerable voters in the Reserves. I am talking of only about 5% to 6% of Zimbabwean population who will vote for MDCs in any given election whereas 80% to 90% of the population will be coerced to vote for ZanuPF. Usually, ZanuPF turns elections into military operations. How then are the MDCs and other parties going to stop Zanupf turning elections into full scale military operations coercing 80% to 90% of those in the Reserves to vote for ZanuPF? Tsvangirai is the tallest of the dwarfs (opposition parties) in the political arena and that will not get him anywhere.

Musona - 11 February 2015

Zvekubatana izvo hazvibetseri ngatifambei neteam iyoyi nekuti vanhu vanokara vushe hatichavadi mumusangano . Zvimwe zvimaNda Nde Ndu politicals party , they think being popular on facebook means your also popular in Mberengwa or Maranda

MukarangawekuMberengwa - 11 February 2015

With all lies and total failure by zanu no amount of threats this time will work for zanu . Every patriotic zimbabwean when they visit rural areas must tell their relatives to be brave and never listen to zanu threats like what they did in 2008 and not vote for zanu . I foresee a heavy defeat for zanu .

Diibulaanyika - 11 February 2015

mumaruzevha imomo ndimo mapindwa namogiza. ndiwo mafambiro anoita tsoro yacho. morgan ngaarege kuita kamwe kahandiende ndo pane weak point yake ipapo. he can pass the baton not kurova 35 yrs dzakewo. then panenge pasina musiyano nezanu.

zvirozviyedzwa - 11 February 2015

I went straight to the comments after reading the headline, just to inform readers that this is daily hogwash , spent force supported by a spent daily sums up to zero.

reason - 12 February 2015

haa zvimwe ndezvimwe, ZANU kumberi kwekumberi, come 2018, MDC beware of not having even a single seat in parliament. Of late the supporters of MDC dont go to the ballot box. Ve ZANU hakuna asingavhotee. ndezvameso

wind - 12 February 2015

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