Wilbert Mukori: Did Mnangagwa and Tsvangirai discuss matters of national interest?

By Wilbert Mukori

Politicians are like cats they growl when they fight and they growl even louder when they are making love. So, what was the purpose behind President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s visit to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s home and who initiated the visit?

Elizabeth and Morgan Tsvangirai seen here with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga
Elizabeth and Morgan Tsvangirai seen here with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga

“The Daily News reports that the meeting was at the MDC leader’s request,” to answer the question.

“Tsvangirai had been eager to meet with Mnangagwa to discuss the way forward on elections and the worsening economic plight.”

Tsvangirai left his SA hospital bed in a huff last year in November following the coup that forced Mugabe to resign. He did not condemn the coup because he wanted to be friends with Mnangagwa, Chiwenga and the rest of coup plotters.

He wanted them to agree to the formation of a government of national unity in which, he would be given a prominent role, possibly his Prime Minister position of the last GNU. 

The big carrot to Mnangagwa and his coup cabal in Tsvangirai’s proposal was that MDC will support the postponement of the elections by two or three years on the ground the unity government needed time to prepare for free, fair and credible elections. The argument was that Mugabe had done nothing to prepare the nation for free and fair elections.

What Tsvangirai was conveniently ignoring was that the coup was an internal power struggle within Zanu PF; the Mnangagwa faction, which had emerged victorious, was as much a Zanu PF government as the Mugabe’s administration. It will be nonsensical for President Mnangagwa to argue that ZEC was not ready to produce a verified voters’ roll, for example, when as VP and Minister of Justice in Mugabe’s government it was his responsibility to supervise ZEC.

Mnangagwa and the coup plotters had insisted before the coup that they represented the real Zanu PF and the coup was to take power away from the “criminal elements surrounding the President Mugabe”. The fact that the plotters wanted Mugabe himself to resign too is a finer point they hoped no one would notice.

President Mnangagwa’s administration was a Zanu PF government there to service the remaining term of Mugabe’s five-year term. Of course, the incoming President Mnangagwa was free to invite anyone he wished to join him in his new government but what he could not do is extend his stay in office. Zimbabwe was due to hold fresh elections by the end of July 2018, at the latest, and it would be a serious breach of the constitution to postpone the elections under some fanciful pretext.

It is nonsensical to hope that the unity government Tsvangirai was proposing would implement any meaningful democratic reforms this time when it is the same Zanu PF and MDC leaders who failed to implement even one reform in the five years of the 2008 to 2013 GNU.

Tsvangirai’s “way forward” last November was nothing more than a desperate pitch for him and a few other MDC leaders to get back on the gravy train for another two or three years. He wanted President Mnangagwa to unconstitutionally postpone the elections, something that not even the tyrant Mugabe had never done; short changing the Zimbabwe electorate for no gain. One can only imagine what way forward Tsvangirai was proposing now!

“Highly-placed sources familiar with the visit said the meeting was conducted in a friendly atmosphere so much that one would have confused it for an engagement among brothers,” continued the report.

“They said Tsvangirai’s visitors pledged to materially support the frail opposition leader in his battle with cancer, which has drained the family’s savings.”

Just as I had feared; Tsvangirai had initiated the meeting supposedly to discuss “way forward on elections and the worsening economic plight”, matters of national interest; in reality all he wanted to talk about is what President Mnangagwa would do for him in return for MDC’s continued cooperation with Zanu PF. No doubt, Tsvangirai had a similar meeting with Mugabe to discuss the “cooperation” between the two leaders and parties during GNU.

As we know, Robert Mugabe granted Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends all the trappings of offices; the ministerial limos, generous salaries, a $4 million mansion for Tsvangirai himself, etc., etc.

MDC leaders showed their appreciation by kicking the democratic reforms into the prickly pear thicket. Not even the repeated nagging by the SADC leaders, who were the guarantor of the GPA, would get Tsvangirai to implement even one reform and upset Mugabe.

Tsvangirai would insist to this day, indeed will swear on his dying bed, that he has always put the interests of the Zimbabwe people above his own personal interests. Of course, MDC sold-out during the GNU. MDC leaders had readily overlooked the coup was treasonous act, hoping they will have a share of the spoils. Tsvangirai is not interested in making sure the country holds free, fair and credible elections, the pre-requisite to meaningful economic recovery; all he cares about is what would President Mnangagwa pay him for playing ball!

President Mnangagwa and his cabal are smarting from the coup, they know it was a treasonous act; they all know the regime is illegal. The last thing they want is to compound their situation by failing to hold free, fair and credible elections. President Mnangagwa has promised free and fair elections and yet has done nothing to implement even one meaningful democratic reforms to make that possible.

The key coup plotters have all been rewarded with promotions in the Army and in government with more rewards lined up for the future. For example, President Mnangagwa is to serve as president for one or two terms and then hand over to VP Chiwenga. Of course, none these Zanu PF thugs would not risk their position and future prospect by holding free and fair elections is a luxury all Zanu PF leaders know the party cannot afford because they will lose the elections.

So, President Mnangagwa and his cabal are caught between a rock and the deep blue sea in that the need to hold free and fair elections to earn their legitimacy but risk losing their new found political power is the hold such elections. The way out is to bribe the opposition participate in the flawed and illegal elections to give the process the modicum of credibility – just as Mugabe has done for the July 2013 elections.

“Mnangagwa also undertook to look into the MDC leader’s long-standing grievances about his outstanding pension, accrued when he was prime minister in the inclusive government between 2009 and 2013,” continued the report.

“It will not be the first time that Tsvangirai has been assisted by his rivals in Zanu PF.

“Under Mugabe’s regime, Tsvangirai received about $70 000 to pay for his medical expenses.

“Sources said Mnangagwa repeated his commitment during his meeting with Tsvangirai that the forthcoming polls would be free and fair, and even pledged to work closely with the opposition in the event that he is re-elected.”

Even if ZEC failed to produce something as basic as a verified voters’ roll for the coming elections, that will not stop Tsvangirai and his MDC friends contesting this year’s elections regardless how flawed and illegal the process happens to be. I will leave the reader to make his or her own conclusion whether Mnangagwa and Tsvangirai discussed matters of national interest or of mutual interest, whether the cats were fighting or making love!

Of course, Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends have lost all political credibility, they stopped representing the public interest when they first took the bribes to forget implementing the democratic reforms. This year’s elections are about implementing the democratic reforms and holding free, fair and credible elections. Zanu PF must not be allowed to get away with yet another sham election just because Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends have sold-out once again!