An election without Mugabe, Tsvangirai

HARARE - Zimbabweans will, for the first time since 2002, vote in a presidential election without its two main political characters; Robert Mugabe and the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe, who led the ruling Zanu PF and stood as their presidential candidate since 1980, was disposed in a military intervention late last year while Tsvangirai — MDC president for 26 years — succumbed to cancer on Wednesday.

Over the years, the two leaders contested each other in three general elections and Tsvangirai lost in all of them, albeit usually in controversial circumstances.

But there was so much bad blood between the two as Mugabe’s power base was being tested.

In 2002 and 12 days before the presidential elections pitting Tsvangirai and Mugabe, the late former PM was charged with high treason over allegations he had plotted to kill Mugabe.

The charge came after Tsvangirai was interrogated at police headquarters in Harare, over a controversial Australian television documentary which allegedly had filmed him discussing plans to assassinate Mugabe.

Ari Ben Menashe, a former Mossad agent who runs the Montreal company, Dickens and Madson, said they had secretly filmed the meeting. The State lost the case.

In 2003, police again charged Tsvangirai with treason as anti-government protests faltered in the face of a massive show of force by Mugabe.

Tsvangirai was being charged in connection with a series of statements he made since the disputed March 2002 elections that allegedly incited his supporters to seek Mugabe’s overthrow.

The late trade unionist was at the time the first politician with enough support to threaten Mugabe’s then 22-year rule over Zimbabwe.

In 2007, after being arrested for trying to attend a prayer meeting the authorities had deemed illegal, Tsvangirai was severely battered by police.

In 2009, Tsvangirai and Mugabe, however, formed part of the Government of National Unity (GNU) — a pact that came after protracted negotiations.

The GNU was intended to negotiate an end to the partisan violence and human rights violations in the country and create a framework for a power-sharing government between Mugabe’s Zanu PF and Tsvangirai’s MDC.

These negotiations followed the 2008 presidential election, in which Mugabe was controversially re-elected after Tsvangirai withdrew from a run-off, citing violence against his supporters.

The 2008 presidential election saw the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) withhold results for over a month amid widespread State-sponsored violence ahead of a run-off.

The GNU was the only time that Tsvangirai and Mugabe worked closely together, even sharing tea!

After the unity pact, the two leaders took their knobkerries and began fighting again, verbally, as they contested for power.

Throughout his political career, Tsvangirai had fought tooth and nail to remove Mugabe from power but without any success. So when the army came in and removed the former president, people felt it was now the former prime minister’s time to dominate politics.

But it wasn’t to be as God had his own ideas, thus the former trade unionist succumbed to cancer of the colon.

Interestingly, six months ago no one would have thought that both Mugabe and Tsvangirai would not be in the political picture at all as both men were eager to commence their rivalry.

Both party presidents were so confident that they would outsmart each other and already they had started putting their cards in place.

But as they say, a week is long in politics; today both party presidents are no longer in the presidential race.

And who would have thought that Emmerson Mnangagwa or Nelson Chamisa or Elias Mudzuru would contest the 2018 presidential elections?

Only time will tell.

Comments (2)

MDC president for 26 years, wasn't the MDC formed in 1999???

OkaS'lwane - 22 February 2018

"MDC president for 26 years", wasn't the MDC formed in 1999???

OkaS'lwane - 22 February 2018

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