Tsvangirai-Mujuru pact problematic
By Benjamin Semwayo
Zimbabwean opposition politicians are reportedly seeking to end Mugabe’s protracted rule by forming a grand coalition to face Zanu PF in the 2018 general elections. They have faced a myriad of challenges, not least of which is deciding who will lead the coalition as each of them claims to be the best person for the job. So confused are they that one minute you hear that they are close to agreeing on the modalities of the coalition and the next you hear that actually two ‘grand’ coalitions are taking shape.
It is against this background that Tsvangirai and Mujuru have reportedly struck a deal to work together in a coalition and seem to have made an accord that transcends normal agreements between political parties. Spotlight Zimbabwe reports that they have agreed on a ten-year pact which will see them swapping the presidency with Tsvangirai contesting in the 2018 presidential race and passing on the baton to Mujuru in the 2023 elections. If it is true, this plan is fraught with problems.
To begin with, this is supposed to be a grand coalition involving more stakeholders than just Tsvangirai and Mujuru, and if the two have laid the groundwork on their own it is more than likely that the other politicians will feel offended by not being involved from the onset of the discussions. The result is that they will be less inclined to be party to the coalition, resulting in them looking elsewhere for a rival coalition. In doing what they have done, Tsvangirai and Mujuru have effectively divided the opposition without Mugabe lifting a finger, and have slammed the door against other progressive parties.
The other problem with the reported coalition is that it gives one a sense of déjà vu. It is a throwback to the GNU days when Zanu PF and the MDC-T were forced to work together after the fiasco of the 2008 presidential elections. When the proposed terms of the agreement are considered, one cannot help but conclude that it is almost a replica of Mugabe-Tsvangirai pact, with all its failings. In the light of the revelation that a new GNU is on the horizon, that effectively gives us GNU1 and GNU2.
Like in GNU1, Tsvangirai is said to have settled for the foreign affairs and economic ministries while Mujuru will control all security ministries. He has characteristically traded away the most vital ministries like Esau who gave away his birth right in exchange for a bowl of soup. Tsvangirai was severely criticised during the GNU1 years for making the decision he made, as a result of which he was viewed as a figurehead without any real influence.
If the report is anything to go by it beggars belief that Tsvangirai should enter such a skewed agreement. It is blindingly obvious and discernible even to a child that whoever controls the security ministries is the one who holds sway in the country. It makes us wonder whether Tsvangirai learnt anything from GNU1.
Most political analysts maintain that it is also debatable whether Mujuru has reached the stage where faith can really be placed in her as a bona fide opposition politician. Political scientist Eldred Masunungure says she is viewed as a leader of a faction of Zanu PF, having been a member of the party for 40 years and having served in government for 34 years.
She was jettisoned from the ruling party where it is claimed that she was part and parcel of the violent apparatus of the party that caused the deaths and disappearances of many opposition cadres. When she found herself in the political wilderness she gave the nation a half-hearted apology for the part she played in the Zanu PF government. ‘I’m sorry for what I did,’ she said. Then in the same breath, ‘Now let me rule you.’ Only fools would accept such a leader.
In March 2016 Eliot Pfebve, a prominent member of MDC-T, gave Nehanda radio a detailed and credible account of how Mujuru sought to end his life. Many Zimbabweans believe that Mujuru’s hands are dripping with blood as she is associated with many blood-soaked events in Zimbabwe’s history. And now Tsvangirai makes a pact with her surrendering all the security ministries? He is not fazed at all, and there are no alarm bells ringing. This is unsettling to most people, to say the least.
Tsvangirai should know better that people associated with Zanu PF should not be allowed anywhere near the security ministries. They have been the root cause of the country’s woes and these ministries need to be overhauled and all personnel working in them re-educated and re-oriented, or better still, replaced. A delicate job like that cannot be left to the people who were guilty of perpetrating all kinds of heinous crimes.
A very likely scenario is that when Mujuru’s turn comes the electorate will refuse to support her, then the resurgent Zanu PF machinery under a different identity will do what it knows best: another dark epoch will rear its ugly head again and the country will be back in Zanu PF shackles.
When Mujuru was expelled from Zanu PF she showered Mugabe with praise and claimed that she was an avowed member of the party and, with a totemic promise, swore that she would never leave that party. Can we really believe her now when she says she that she has become an opposition politician? Has she really reached a point of no return in her walk away from Zanu PF?
Many ZanuPF politicians have announced that they have abandoned the party, only to come back grovelling to be readmitted. Only recently Mugabe revealed that he had received a call from Didymus Mutasa, who he believed wanted to broach the subject of readmission to the party.
Tsvangirai loaned his supporters to Temba Mliswa during the Norton by-election and he landed a landslide victory. No sooner had he won the election than he remembered his roots. He began speaking disparagingly of Tsvangirai and, to add insult to injury, sang Mugabe’s praises, describing him in glowing terms. Do not be fooled, these people do not forget their roots. They always go back to those they share the umbilical cord with.
If Mugabe approached Mujuru and offered her back the position of Vice President, possibly with additional irresistible sweeteners, would she really turn down the offer? Mugabe and Mujuru have a lot in common because they were formed in the same mould, which why they belong together and any association between them and Tsvangirai is a screaming mismatch.
Makoni and Dabengwa are more credible opposition politicians than Mujuru because they left Zanu PF of their own volition and were not expelled. Time has also shown them to be resilient opponents of Mugabe.
The coalition faces a furious backlash in future. There are certain obvious things that are going to happen. The first is that the coalition is going to be flooded with war veterans, who will bring with them their usual destructive tendencies. How will Tsvangirai deal with the war veterans who have not shown any respect for him in the past and whose mantra is ‘War vets first: povo (people who did not fight in the war of liberation) second’?
The current securocrats, who are war vets, have vowed that they will never salute Tsvangirai. Mujuru’s lieutenants, who clearly overvalue themselves, will demand top posts and will find themselves pitted against MDC-T cadres who equally expect to be rewarded for their sacrifices. That will lead to another bloated government as the leaders make allowances to accommodate their faithful subjects.
There is likely to be friction between the representatives of the two parties reminiscent of GNU1. This is inevitable because Mujuru’s followers, the war vets, cling to the obsolete notion that anyone who did not fight in the war is nothing. This is their warped version of the caste system, and they think they are the upper class, with exclusive rights to the finest things that the land offers.
In short, the two sides are incompatible and a true coalition can only function effectively as a broad-based coalition involving all opposition political parties. Such a coalition has the ability to neutralise the extremities of the war vets, should Mujuru’s party decide to be included in it. Tsvangirai cannot handle them alone.
What will happen if after the first five years the electorate refuses to embrace Mujuru, as is most likely to happen? Fissures will form, even if it survives for a few months, and it will obviously splinter and new parties will be formed out of it. That would not matter though, assuming that ZanuPF will have been taken care of.
As GNU2 unfolds we see a replay of the litany of Tsvangirai’s failings during GNU1. The bane of Tsvangirai’s politics is that he is hasty, wants quick fixes and does not listen to sound advice. He is fixated on one element of the picture and takes things for granted. If there was one thing he should learn it is to err on the side of extreme caution.
People should still vote for him not because he is an astute politician, but because the electorate loves him despite his shortcomings, making him the best placed to topple Mugabe. There is no doubt that he is the darling of the nation. The nation wants no-one else but him. For his part he should do the nation a favour and make rational decisions. Mujuru is a liability and associating with her could cost Tsvangirai votes. By making the concessions he is said to have made he is skating on thin ice.
We can only pray that when GNU2 goes into election it will have cracked the code for disabling Zanu PF’s rigging mechanism and finally deliver victory. If after his term Tsvangirai continues with his ill-advised decision-making he will not have anyone but himself to blame if the electorate exact punishment.