Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Morgan Tsvangirai - Small man in a big chair

17 May 2013 at 05:24hrs | Views
Before Morgan Tsvangirai entered the world of governance he enjoyed a rather stupendous mass of sympathy support, both at home and abroad. This was precisely because opposition politics was merely about how much Tsvangirai would try to fight down the Western-hated Robert Mugabe -- and never about the MDC leader's leadership character, or lack of it.

The ponderous portrayal of Tsvangirai as a shrewd and brave democracy fighter by the mainstream Western media elevated an otherwise vain common villager to what many thought was international heroism -- attracting a few contrived international awards in the process, not least a nomination alongside Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize. Australia's Julia Gillard was even audacious enough to pontificate that Morgan Tsvangirai falls in the class of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. The resemblance went no further than Gillard's ill-measured words.

It took incumbency for many to realise that the decision to join a coalition government with Zanu-PF was for Morgan Tsvangirai like a stupid cow that rejoices at the prospect of being taken to a beautiful abattoir. The altar of power has totally demystified the mythical perceptions that once elevated Tsvangirai to a seeming man of great political capacities -- at least by those that deemed it wise to use the man as a protest platform against Zanu-PF.

There is a Sudanese proverb that says, "A large chair does not make a king." The office of the Prime Minister created specifically for Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008 has proven to be a very large chair in which sat a very small man for a long five years. The grandeur of the PM's office did not make Tsvangirai a great man, neither did his bloated staff.

All Tsvangirai managed to do from this large chair is pick meaningless fights with little men all over the place, be it officials in the public media, or those at the Registrar-General's Office, or those in the security sector, especially one Nyikayaramba. When not fighting to chair a gathering of ministers outside Cabinet, or fighting for any such trivial aspiration, Morgan Tsvangirai has predictably fled to South Africa and a number of other African countries as a spoilt cry-baby each time any small challenge arises.

Scared by the prospect of an imminent election after the adoption of the new constitution, Tsvangirai recently fled his office to seek support in trying to prevent an early election that many say will certainly bury his political career. He went to South Africa, to Tanzania, was turned away in Namibia, proceeded to Guinea, then to Nigeria, and ended up in Botswana. Meanwhile, his Western sponsors were busy sending emissaries to make peace with President Robert Mugabe while he was at it. Hardly were his efforts covered by an increasingly uninterested Western media.

Tsvangirai launched his political career on the basis of massive Western sponsorship -- enjoying massive financial, moral and media support from our former colonisers and their think-alikes. What Tsvangirai seemed to forget is that leadership is a character-based quality; and that with good character even the ugly become beautiful, and that if the ugly lack character, they become totally detestable.

There is a South African saying that goes, "Money cannot talk, yet it can make lies look true." The money-created image of a democratic stalwart out of Morgan Tsvangirai was a huge lie that fooled many people before the man sacrificed the splitting of his own party in order to have his dictatorial way over a vote count he had lost. The sponsored image of Tsvangirai made a lie look like truth -- elevated a scandalous character to levels of high nobilities. The 2005 MDC split marked the beginning of the unmasking of this tremendous lie upon which the mythical prowess of Tsvangirai was grounded. In dealing with his Western funders Morgan Tsvangirai needed to remember the Ethiopian proverb that says, "Dine with a stranger, but save your love for your family." You do not support strangers when they punish your own people through murderous economic sanctions, even if those sanctions are meant to get at your hostile political opponents. The politics of inciting anger became addictive for Tsvangirai and his MDC colleagues that they started gallivanting across the globe campaigning vociferously for crippling sanctions against their own country, with Tsvangirai gathering the temerity to call on South Africa to "switch off Zimbabwe."

Anyone that dines with Western imperialists in the name of sweet democracy must always be reminded that the skin of a leopard is beautiful, but not its heart. This is why Madhuku says he is now wiser after being dumped by Western funders. Suddenly the learned professor says he has just discovered that the West is "only after their own interests." If Madhuku is not insincere, he is intensely stupid.

Western democracy is as beautiful as the skin of a leopard, but the imperialism that drives it is as deadly as the venom of a cobra. In re-engaging the West Zanu-PF can at least boast that they are doing it on their own terms -- or so it appears for now. But anyone that dines with imperialists must be warned of the deadly consequences -- like we once saw with Zanu-PF's disastrous IMF-prescribed Esap.

Now whatever political capital Tsvangirai ever enjoyed is vanishing like fog facing the rising sun. As the saying goes, "Greed loses what it has gained." The moment Tsvangirai and his MDC-T leadership entered the inclusive government they began to lose every respect they ever commanded -- all because of the mad scramble for riches that became the order of the day from the day MDC ministers embraced luxury vehicles to mark the beginning of their taste of power.

Tsvangirai sat in the large PM's chair with the same small mind that made him say "we will remove you violently," in 2000, the same mind that made him think it was a brilliant idea to call the media to cover him receiving fat cheques from white commercial farmers in Banket -- with the same small mind that declared "you will suffer for real," to people at a political rally, and the same small mind that made Tsvangirai keep repeating the same futile calls for "mass stayaways" over and over again, despite the repeated massive flops.

It is the same small mind that got Tsvangirai to engage total strangers in faraway Canada, discussing life after "eliminating Mugabe".

It is the same small mind that provided global comic relief when Tsvangirai ended up saluting a German guard of honour which he was supposed to inspect, and outpacing his host in rushing to the stage for speeches, only to end trying to read the wrong speech standing on the wrong podium, next to the wrong national flag.

It is the same small mind that made Tsvangirai overlook the importance of integrity in leadership --going about recklessly philandering with all manner of women in the name of being a widower, bragging about his multiple affairs, and showing no remorse for impregnating a woman 40 years his junior -- a mere 21-year-old.

Morgan Tsvangirai has always been shallow in policy and Zanu-PF emphatically out-shined his MDC during the tenure of the inclusive government, thanks to its popular indigenisation policy.

David Smith of The Guardian, a UK paper, recently noted that there is "a subtle shift in the mood music" around President Robert Mugabe.

He added: "Most contentiously of all, researchers have begun to challenge the orthodoxy that Zimbabwe's land reform programme was an unmitigated disaster."

Referring to the lie-driven propaganda that propped up Tsvangirai and made the devil out of President Mugabe he writes about "a necessary corrective after years of demonisation."

Smith buttresses his case by quoting Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah who said about President Mugabe, "This idea of a mindless thug underestimates his intelligence."

Conversely, the idea of portraying Tsvangirai as a brave and shrewd fighter for democracy badly underestimates the man's hopeless lack of common wisdom and political strategy. Just as many are quickly reviewing their opinion on President Robert Mugabe, many are also realising that Tsvangirai is no more than an over-glorified brainless common villager.

The track record of President Robert Mugabe as a man of principle is emerging emphatically from the ashes of years of unwarranted slander. His post-independence education policy has left a lasting legacy on the country -- Africa's highest literacy. His health policy has left the country with a clinic within every 20 kilometres -- a very decent achievement by the standards of the developing world.

His land reform policy of 2000 is now the admiration of many, in spite of the massive demonisation from Western detractors. And now the economic empowerment policy of 2007 has gained so much momentum that it is one of the only two things to be remembered about this inclusive Government, alongside the drafting and adopting of a new Constitution.

Afro-barometer and Freedom House have recently carried out opinion polls that have shown Tsvangirai's MDC trailing Zanu-PF in popularity.

It is indisputable that the MDC in all its formations has lost momentum, and that Tsvangirai's party has lost moral high ground to build political capital by slandering Zanu-PF. It is now virtually impossible for the MDC to utter the word "corruption" in criticising their political opponents.

It is like a busted adulterer trying to preach sexual purity to members of his own community. MDC-T officials have not even bothered to be discreet about their corrupt conduct, and the electorate is utterly enraged by the profligacy of MDC-T officials.

Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers' Union says MDC-T politicians have "exposed their own naivety and appetite for opulence and extravagance."

He adds: "In four years the level of wealth these MDC guys have accumulated is shocking."

He was quoted by David Smith in his article titled, "Mugabe's Redemption as Father of the Nation."

The recent election in Kenya could not have come at worse time for Morgan Tsvangirai. The massive standing ovation for President Robert Mugabe at victor Uhuru Kenyatta's inauguration and the recent visit to Harare by Britain's High Commissioner to Kenya are significant pointers against the prospect of a Tsvangirai survival in politics, let alone a win in the coming election.

President Mugabe clearly identified with the majority of Kenyan voters at Kenyatta's inauguration, and it is worth noting that their victory came at the expense of Tsvangirai's best ally and friend Raila Odinga. Britain was greatly disturbed by Kenyatta's victory, and the visit to Harare by its High Commissioner to Kenya could be read as a sign that "parallels of real-politik are being drawn," according to David Smith.

Zimbabweans are now overwhelmingly in admiration of the 2000 land reform programme, especially with many of the beneficiaries immensely transforming their lifestyles through tobacco sales. This makes the MDC-T rhetoric about the land reform programme being a huge disaster sound disgustingly treacherous. The more this is said the more Tsvangirai looks like a small boy failing to outgrow childhood fantasies.

Professor Ian Scoones of Sussex University in his 2013 book titled "Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land" concluded: "In the biggest land reform in Africa, 6 000 white farmers have been replaced by 245 000 Zimbabwean farmers. These are primarily ordinary poor people who have become more productive farmers."

This is a telling mockery of Mike Campbell and Ben Freeth's "Mugabe and the White African" documentary -- described by Scottish MP Christian Allard as "made for white people to support white people to keep hold of the land in Africa."

While all this shifting of Western opinion over Zimbabwe's land reform programme is going on the MDC is hardly comprehendible on matters of policy. Apart from continuously lamenting over the prospect of free and fair elections, the MDC seems to have next to nothing in terms of what they want to be voted in for.

At the moment it all appears to be Zanu-PF's popular economic empowerment policy versus MDC-T cries for free and fair election; and not many people believe elections can be eaten at the table be they free and fair or flawed.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.

Source - zimpapers
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.