2018 elections – Tsvangirai’s last hooray
By Tanonoka Joseph Whande
More and more African leaders are succumbing to pressure and are declaring that they will not be running in the next presidential elections of their countries.
Those who overshoot their constitutional time mandates and run are finding themselves exposed such as what has happened in the Gambia – not to mention Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Burundi and other countries.
We have morons in our region. What really can we expect from the likes of Jacob Zuma or Robert Mugabe who spend our time and our money preening themselves and fighting with members of their own political parties while neglecting government?
At least South Africans can recall a president; other countries do not have that luxury.
As abuse of the judiciary increases in our region, we see South Africa’s ruling party adopting the same tactics as Zanu-Pf where court orders or decisions against the ruling party are just ignored, as we saw from the ruling ANC Youth League a couple of days ago.
José Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s president since 1979 and the father of the richest woman in Africa, announced to the world, again, that he would not be running for re-election this year.
As his successor, dos Santos (74) has chosen his fiercely loyal Defense Minister, João Lourenço, also 74.
With the personal wealth that dos Santos and his family has accumulated from the nation at stake, it is safe to assume that, should he ‘retire’, dos Santos will take on the role of João Lourenço’s puppet master for a long time to come.
Not to be outdone, Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, recently declared that he too will not run for a third term.
Fiddlesticks! Utter rubbish!
The man just got re-elected in elections boycotted by the opposition and the next elections are in 2021 – plenty of time to change his mind just like dos Santos has done before.
Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe is honest enough to say he is not going anywhere.
At an increasingly lazy 93 years of age, he has declared he will be running in the 2018 elections.
While Mugabe’s condition gravely worries me for our nation’s sake, I am more concerned about Morgan Tsvangirai who, in spite of his lackluster political performance, still remains the only person the majority of our people would rather rally around.
The worst thing about Africa’s political parties is that they belong to their founding leaders.
No leader of any political party has ever stepped down in Zimbabwe. They all hang around to die in leadership and, once that happens, the political parties flounder and become embarrassments.
Joshua Nkomo took his ZAPU with him and there is absolutely nothing that Dumiso Dabengwa, or any other person, can do about it.
Same with Ndabaningi Sithole of ZANU-Ndonga.
Even today, look at failed leaders like Simba Makoni, Welshman Ncube and others. Failing to take a party to “the next level” over the years is reason enough to change leadership.
But what is Zanu-Pf without Mugabe? What is the MDC without Tsvangirai?
Neither Mugabe, Tsvangirai nor any other leader has allowed younger leaders to bubble to the top.
Who is Simba Makoni’s deputy? Welshman Ncube (if he still has a party)? Biti? Mangwana? Pick any that you like and you will find that the party is more of an individual than of people in support.
Both Zanu-Pf and the MDC, and all these political parties, have a common, in-built system that neither cultivates nor encourages young brilliant minds to emerge.
It is disgusting that Mugabe has two vice presidents who mean nothing at all while Tsvangirai has three vice presidents who mean even less.
Tsvangirai is doing the same deplorable nonsense that Mugabe has used to suppress the upward mobility of tomorrow’s potential young leaders within the party.
The more the vice presidents, the more the factions in the party and that is very dangerous to the party, as we see in both parties, and that is what a party leader enjoys.
Tsvangirai has locked horns with Mugabe in presidential elections several times before and he came out second best.
Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections are going to be Tsvangirai’s last hooray, if he, again, fails to dislodge Mugabe.
We measure success or progress by the steps we have taken from the point we advanced from. Political parties are judged by how increasingly they creep closer to power.
Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai cannot blame their followers because both men have been given all the support they needed to succeed.
Mugabe, whether his mandates were legitimate or not, has failed dismally for more than 30 years. He only excelled in disaster.
Today, many Zimbabweans reminisce about how better off they were before independence and that is a disgusting message.
Mugabe is caught between two poles: reality and reality. There is no escape.
He has overstayed yet wants more years to repeat the damage.
African leaders have an aversion to their deputies; they view their deputies as adversaries not as trusted lieutenants in whom the future of the party or the nation can be entrusted.
Yet a deputy, through loyalty to the nation, is there to protect the nation through continuity.
So which deputy, in the MDC, do we put our faith in? We need one, not three. Who, in Zanu-Pf, do we put our trust in?
As we approach the 2018 elections, Mr. Tsvangirai must be aware of the fact that this will be his last hooray.
The people of Zimbabwe have given him many opportunities and he must honestly appreciate that.
Yes, there was rigging of elections but he and his party should have devised ways and means to beat that. That is leadership – crafting ways of beating your political adversary.
Unless Tsvangirai and his MDC stop posturing, it is going to happen again. If the party that our people show so much faith in cannot think of how to beat a crooked system over 18 years of its existence – fighting the same man and the same bad system – then the end is imminent.
As the MDC enters a period of cooperation with other parties, it must trim itself down to specifics for maximum effect. There is too much drawn out talking with parties of no consequence. They must not lose focus or get side-tracked.
Tsvangirai’s last roll of the dice is in 2018.
The MDC has always been happy to have numbers on its side and congratulate itself even after defeat. Not this time around!
What is the rationale behind Tsvangirai and his party’s lack of interest in fighting for electoral reforms at a time they held aces over Mugabe and at a time SADC had decreed that those reforms be implemented?
Today, the MDC vacillates: one time they are boycotting elections “until reforms are implemented”, the next they are participating.
Many people have already given their lives for the MDC; survivors want substance. Other opposition leaders are grudgingly standing ready to give support but the MDC must be careful.
I hope Tsvangirai and the MDC are ready because, as we can see, all eyes are on him.
This might be Tsvangirai’s last chance…before we start all over again.