It's Tsvangirai versus Mugabe

HARARE - There was all-round agreement yesterday that the much-anticipated 2018 presidential election would be another titanic contest between popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe — or a nominee of the increasingly frail nonagenarian.

Zanu PF insiders and political analysts who spoke to the Daily News said with former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s political fortunes taking a severe battering last week — as her fledgling Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party implodes — there was no one else other than Tsvangirai and his MDC who had “a realistic chance” of taking on Mugabe and Zanu PF in 2018.

“We are not moved by the many Mickey Mouse opponents within the opposition ranks who are muddying the waters, we know and are firmly focussed on crushing Tsvangirai and MDC again as the next elections approach,” a ruling party bigwig said.

On their part, political analysts said the ructions currently ravaging ZPF meant that Mujuru’s chances of contesting against Mugabe in 2018 had now taken a “serious dent”.

Among other senior Zanu PF officials who appear to share the view is vocal Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who tweeted at the weekend that: “A grand coalition in Zim is by definition untenable because there are many opposition individuals but only one real opposition party, MDC-T!”.

Writing on his blog on Saturday, UK-based academic and former adviser to Tsvangirai during the era of the government of national unity, Alex Magaisa, also suggested that Tsvangirai and the MDC remained the biggest challenges to Mugabe and Zanu PF’s quests to remain in power.

“Although it has been a lean period (the past few years), the MDC-T remains Zanu PF’s most formidable opponent. This is why, even though the party has boycotted by-elections since 2013, Zanu PF campaigners always chant “Pasi neMDC-T / Pasi naTsvangirai!” (Down with MDC-T/Down with Tsvangirai!) — Zanu PF’s notorious ritual of banishing the opposition.

“They do so even when they are competing with other opposition parties. Mentally, their most important rival is still the MDC-T and Tsvangirai. State media propaganda continues to focus on the MDC-T and Tsvangirai as the primary targets,” he said.

All this comes as Mujuru and ZPF’s founding fathers, Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo, are escalating their feud, which saw hordes of party bigwigs deserting the troubled political outfit last week.

On the other hand, Mugabe and Zanu PF are battling to keep their former liberation movement’s ugly tribal, factional and succession wars in check, as the nonagenarian’s impatient lieutenants stampede to try and take over from him.

Professor of politics at the University of Zimbabwe, Eldred Masunungure, was among the analysts who said yesterday that Mujuru’s troubles had dealt her “a body blow” in her quest to lead the mooted grand opposition alliance and take Mugabe head-on in the 2018 presidential election.

“With recent developments in Mujuru’s party, it’s now obvious that the favourite candidate to lead the coalition is MDC leader Tsvangirai.

“Tsvangirai is now the best candidate left ... the chances are now thinner for Mujuru to lead the coalition with what has happened in her party. She is not a strong leader,” the respected Masunungure told the Daily News.

In a stunning development that shook both the opposition movement and ordinary Zimbabweans alike, Mujuru “expelled” ZPF’s founding fathers Gumbo and Mutasa, together with five other party heavyweights last week — on account of them being alleged Zanu PF agents and working to topple her from her interim position.

But no sooner had she completed her briefing than the situation turned into a complete farce, when Mutasa and Gumbo announced at their own press conference that they had also summarily “expelled” Mujuru from ZPF.

Mutasa and Gumbo have since seemingly taken control of the party’s affairs, after they claimed that they were the rightful owners of the fledgling opposition party and its image rights.

“Mujuru is not known for having done something extraordinary that would give her the ideal qualities of a leader. The squabbles in her party show that she cannot manage a crisis.

“She could have implemented lots of options, including assuring the party elders of a controlling stake in the party and electing a council of advisers such that decisions were arrived at after well thought-out deliberations,” another analyst, Shakespear Hamauswa, said.

“Again she could have appointed a committee to look into the differences they were having. If entering a coalition was the main cause for the split, then Mujuru could have done something much better. I think she lacks strategy unless behind the scenes some other things are taking place.

“Morgan managed to build his party in 2005 when it seemed impossible because the secretary general had gone with the national chair, who later came back, as well as the spokesperson, the treasurer, the deputy president and other top key figures.

“But he managed to rebuild the party into a formidable force which caused a coalition government in 2008. So, I think the best person to lead is Morgan Tsvangirai,” Hamauswa added.

Another political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, also said Tsvangirai remained “the only suitable leader” to lead the planned opposition coalition.

“He is the only opposition leader with the biggest support base. There is no debate about that. He does have his weaknesses and vices, but he is the only opposition leader with some modicum of credibility to lead any coalition.

“Mujuru must put her house in order first. Let her finish forming and solidifying her party before tasking her with the responsibility to lead an opposition coalition,” he said.

But despite ZPF’s unfolding chaos, Mujuru has been working behind the scenes with Tsvangirai and other smaller opposition parties towards the formation of the planned grand coalition.

Analysts have also consistently said that a united opposition, fighting with one purpose, would bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule — especially at this time when the country’s economy is dying and the increasingly frail nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu PF united.

Recently, Tsvangirai also said Mujuru had proved to be a significant opposition player — and that the two would work together with others to dethrone Mugabe and Zanu PF from power next year.

Mujuru was expelled from Zanu PF together with Gumbo and Mutasa in the run-up to the ruling party’s sham “elective congress” in December 2014, on untested allegations of plotting to assassinate and topple Mugabe from power.

Meanwhile, analysts also say barring unforeseen circumstances, Mugabe was likely to be the Zanu PF candidate in 2018, at the very mature age of 94 years.

This is despite the fact that the ruling party’s two major factions — Team Lacoste which is rallying behind Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the Generation 40 group which is rabidly opposed to the VP succeeding Mugabe — have been going hammer and tongs at each other in recent months over its succession riddle.

Mugabe — the only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country gained its independence from Britain in April 1980 — has managed to keep them at bay, refusing to name a successor and arguing that Zanu PF should rather follow what he sees as a more democratic process; to manage his succession via a congress.

Comments (10)

I'm not a prophet but I already foresee a disputed result after someone's defeat. We need electoral reforms first before participating in elections

Muddock - 13 February 2017

It will be foolhardy for any opposition party to go into the elections without electoral reforms. The good thing is that even SADC and EU will not support elections in Zimbabwe without electoral reforms, so Zanu PF will only be fooling themselves if they think their past shenanigans will prevail this time around come 2018. All the opposition need to do is to strongly canvas SADC and EU for electoral reforms based on SADC guidelines for elections, a credible voters roll etc. They should mobilise the masses in both urban and rural areas to register as voters and to go and vote. If Zanu does not accept electoral reforms, they can go ahead with the elections and see SADC and EU not accepting the result. Given the state of the economy now and in future and with no Mbeki to support them, they do not have the luxury of going against the rest of the world. Recent events in the Gambia should not be ignored by Zanu. And even more important, Mugabe is not likely to be the candidate and whoever is their candidate will not command the respect kana kunyarwa among SADC and EU that the old tired man had

Mukanya waSvosve - 13 February 2017

what some of us who stay with majority of the suffering masses know AND HEARING FROM GRASS ROOT LEVEL is ZANU will bite the dust this time around bcoz pple are now eager for a change . For the first time ZANU will go into election ton apart with zanu Mujuru or Mutasa never mind what happened to zpf the fact is ZANU is totally in shambles g40 and lacoste all will kick the ball in bush and remember last time these groups never existed and war vets were the side jicks of zanu but now all not in a zanu any more . So this is the best chance ever for opposition to take over bcoz they are squaring off against a cripple and tired zanu all they have to do is make sure they work on hw they can stop zanu winning method VIOLENCE

Diibulaanyika - 14 February 2017

The climate and weather signs shows us the end of ZANU PF , ZANU PF took over the country during life time of rainy seasons and strong farming activities , the rains and strong farming activities are back to end this evil rule of Mugabe . 2018 , we will see a new Zimbabwe, a new leadership of the country , conflict will be there soon after the elections but the international community will act and SADC will be forced by some circumstances to recognise the new leader of Zimbabwe . People of Zimbabwe must not be shaken by Mnangagwa and the army leaders . Mnangagwa will be soon crashed by Grace Mugabe -------------------check SPACE !!!!!!!!!

MehlokaMthwakazi - 14 February 2017

There is no at her trust than this,,Tsvangirai is the best no matter what.Only the problem we have is elections. No matter how wise a leader can be its still hard to remove ZANU through elections unless they will be reformation. Tsvangirai is Mandela2,,he has the qualities Mandela had.&trust me if he get the chance to lead Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe will never be the same again. Zimbabweans need to stop pointing fingers to Tsvangirai accusing him of being like Mugabe,,instead we must support him at all costs because God gave us that man so that Zimbabwe can be liberated.

Matsotsi - 14 February 2017

If ZANU PF is so confident with the electorate that they been voting for ZANU PF in all the past elections without rigging, voter intimidation, and voter fraud. MY CHALLENGE TO THEM IS CALL ALL THE ELECTION OBSERVERS SIMILAR TO THE 1980. Smith had nothing to hide, he called all observers, willing to observe and UN was monitoring the elections. If they are not willing to do that MDC-T may be wasting their effort to participate because ZANU PF will rig and intimidate voters, spoil the opposition ballot papers and delay announcing the result as in 2008. WHERE IS THE GUARANTEE that what happened in 2002, 2008, 2013 will not happen. Why did RGM refused to have monitors since 1985 to present.

amina - 14 February 2017

what reforms are u talking about, what has EU to do with elections in Zim, does Zim monitor thier elections when a European country go for elections, Zanu does its home work of making sure all its supporters are registered to vote yet you spend effort on crying for reforms reforms what reforms to hell with the EU thing, a bunch of colonizers

Mazvimbakupa - 14 February 2017

at least zimbos are waking up to the reality that joice is a monkey who cannot win an election. rwavhi Mugabe pako papera.

josphat mugadzaweta - 14 February 2017

Mazvimbakupa yu are just a frail force suffering frm a mental dysfunction-shut up yr mouth.i call upon legible opposition leaders to come together this time around,form a coalition and face this old dog come 2018 elections.our mandate is to liberate this country frm zanu pf.The sad part of it is that they won't accept defeat and hand over power.This time around the option is to use the barrel of the gun-nothing else-come together Zimbabweans,

lodza - 15 February 2017

Quite pathetic-Tsvangirai again! When in America they hv new faces every election cycle. Why having Tsvangirai -Mugabe presidential race every election year;are they the only clever ones

Addmore Gudo - 20 February 2017

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