A good dancer knows when to leave the stage

HARARE - Morgan Tsvangirai has given the first clearest hint that he is on his way out after leading his MDC party since its formation in 1999.

In his New Year message released on Monday, the former trade unionist said he cannot continue to hold onto the party’s reins and is about to pave way to a fresh pair of hands.

“Beyond what we have achieved together, we ought to leave a lasting legacy where the baton can be changed peacefully, in a tranquil and cordial atmosphere of unity and togetherness. At a personal level, I am using this New Year not only to reflect on the onerous journey that we have travelled together but also to peer with renewed hope into a bright future,” he said.

“I am looking at the imminent prospects of us as the older generation leaving the levers of leadership to allow the younger generation to take forward this huge task that we started together so many years ago with our full blessing and support”.

At some point, Tsvangirai had no intention to giving up his position. For a long time now, he has battled internal party dynamics amid mounting pressures on him to step aside to enable someone with fresh ideas to drive the change agenda forward.

From 1999 when the MDC was formed, it has gone through tumultuous periods that resulted in its fragmentation in 2005 and 2014.

Currently, the party is trying to avert another split because of disagreements between Thokozani Khupe and Tsvangirai over the MDC Alliance.

While the party has had its ups and downs, by and large Tsvangirai has done extremely well by standing up to Zanu PF’s excesses and keeping alive hopes for a democratic Zimbabwe.

Unfortunately, his health is not looking good. He has been out of action for a couple of months now, putting his party at a huge disadvantage ahead of crucial polls this year.

By stepping down, Tsvangirai would have done the right thing and hopefully the MDC would be able to manage the transition so that it emerges stronger.

It is disheartening, however, to note that there are certain voices in the MDC that are calling on him to stay put when it is crystal clear that Tsvangirai no longer has the energy nor drive to run the 2018 race due to his failing health.

A party that claims to be anchored on democratic tenets would know better that a good dancer knows when to leave the stage. The MDC must avoid falling into former president Robert Mugabe’s tragedy of holding onto power to the point of destroying his legacy.

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