By Moses Chamboko
Those with the proclivity to label MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai a puppet or creation of the West were left with egg on their face especially in the past few days as the Asia-Pacific region opened up to his imminent ascendancy to the presidency of the new Zimbabwe.
Not long ago, the MDC president was accorded an honorary doctorate in South Korea.
Those who think that North Korea and China are more significant than South Korea and hence saw this development as a non-event, were again forced to do some serious introspection when China, a giant of the region, extended a convivial invitation to Morgan Tsvangirai a few weeks ago.
Not to be outdone, other notable regional players have recently fallen over each other in dishing out state invitations to the Prime Minister. Japan was the first stop, followed by Australia and finally New Zealand.
While some people in ZANU PF believe that New Zealand and Australia are in the West, the geographical reality is that they are not. Their economies, values and systems might resemble that of some Western countries but that does not make them an appendage of that part of the distant globe.
When Nelson Mandela made the unexpected decision to exit active politics during his first term as president, he identified Thabo, the son of liberation luminary and flamboyant nationalist, Govani Mbeki as his successor. Some might argue that Cyril Ramaphosa should have been considered ahead of the Oxford Economics graduate but Madiba had other ideas.
By allowing Mbeki to be the face of South Africa on the world stage while he enjoyed most of his less hectic weekends in Qunu with grandchildren, Madiba demonstrated the kind of strategic leadership that shall forever be the envy of many.
Once asked what he thought about the Zimbabwe crisis, Madiba had only four words for an answer “tragic failure of leadership”.
President Robert Mugabe’s most tragic failure despite his undoubted intellect has been his unwillingness to groom a successor in more than three long decades. Inadvertently, he has now anointed someone from the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, as the ultimate successor but only in terms of presidential office and nothing else. Given this unfolding reality, the world has been left with no option but to warmly embrace Zimbabwe’s next leader.
Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, New Zealand’s John Key and the Japanese business community, did not hide their affection of this great successor to the extent that Morgan Tsvangirai was actually equated to one of Africa’s greatest sons, Nelsom Mandela and the Burmese democratic champion, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Taking a cue from Suu Kyi when she recently delivered an historic address to Britain’s two houses of parliament, the future President of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, implored the international community not to dwell in the past but to look to the future.
He urged his hosts not to be overly pre-occupied with President Mugabe because “not only is he part of the problem but of the solution as well”. He emphasized the need for re-engaging Zimbabwe not as “a pariah state but an equal member and partner of the international community”.
Subsequently, the Prime Minister made an appeal for the suspension of all forms of sanctions on Zimbabwe as a way of encouraging reform and demonstrating that intransigence has no reward.
Some media houses deliberately misquoted the Prime Minister as having campaigned for a carte blanche on sanctions. There has to be a difference between conditional suspension and total lifting of the embargo a point that the Prime Minister stressed in every interview.
Those who closely followed the Prime Minister’s recent visit would probably agree that this was one of his best international trips in recent times. He had very progressive discussions with political and business leaders of the three nations.
He reminded investors of the abundance of opportunities in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean residents in this region as well as embassy staff and of course Ambassador Zwambila, were excited to see how welcome the Prime Minister and his entourage were in this territory.
Unfortunately, given his tight schedule, it was not possible for him to meet the generality of Zimbabweans but extensive media coverage plugged the gap.
Moses Chamboko writes from Western Australia. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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