Saturday, October 16, 2021

2018 Zim elections: Morgan Tsvangirai’s last chance

More and more African leaders are succumbing to pressure and are declaring that they will not run 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 ÔÇô not to mention Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Burundi and other countries.

The Gambia is lucky to be surrounded by well-meaning nations who seem to want to impose political decency while in our region we have morons. What really can we expect from the likes of Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe who spend our time and our money preening themselves and fighting with members and people of their own political parties while abusing government? 

Jos├® Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s president since 1979 and the father of the richest woman in Africa, announced to the world 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 wealth that dos Santos and his family has accumulated at stake, it is safe to assume that he will take on the role of puppet master for a long time to come and João Lourenço will be performing for dos Santos for however long it takes.

Not to be outdone, Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, recently declared that he will not run for a third term. Fiddlesticks! 

He just got re-elected in elections boycotted by the opposition and the next elections are in 2021 ÔÇô plenty of time to change his mind just like dos Santos has done before.

Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe says 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 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 the leader and we have seen it in Zimbabwe as well.

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 so did Ndabaningi Sithole of ZANU-Ndonga.

What is Zanu-Pf without Mugabe and what is the MDC without Tsvangirai?

Neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai has allowed younger leaders to bubble to the top.

Both Zanu-Pf and the MDC have an in-built catches to keep young brilliant minds down.

It is disgusting that Mugabe has two vice presidents who mean nothing at all while Tsvangirai has three vice presidents who mean even less.

It is just a way of ensuring that there is no one person equal to them as that might make the deputy match wits with the leader.

Tsvangirai is doing the same deplorable nonsense that Mugabe has used to suppress the upward mobility of tomorrow’s potential young leaders of the party.

The more the vice presidents, the more the factions in the party and that is very dangerous to the party.

Tsvangirai has locked horns with Mugabe in presidential elections several times before and, in the end, came out second best. Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections are going to be Tsvangirai’s last hooray. It is doubtful that after 2018, Tsvangirai will remain the leader of the MDC if he, again, fails to dislodge Mugabe.

Most times, we measure success or progress by the steps we have taken from the point we advanced from.

We are judged by what we did better today than yesterday. Political parties are judged by how they creep closer to power than they were last year.

Political leaders are judged by the political damage they cause to their opposing parties and how closer to power they creep.

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, failed dismally even after more than 30 years of opportunity to take Zimbabwe to greater heights. He excelled in disaster.

Today, some Zimbabweans reminisce about how better off they were before independence and that is a very strong message of failure.

Mugabe is caught in between reality and something called reality. There is no escape.

He is old; he is unable; he is ill; he is no longer functioning at full throttle.

And, for him, things will not change.

African leaders have an aversion to their deputies; they always believe that their second in command is waiting to push them over the edge and take over. They view their deputies as adversaries not as trusted lieutenants in whom the future of the party or the nation can be entrusted. Yet they are there to protect the nation through continuity.

But I see that even leaders in opposition parties have the same fear of being replaced resulting in their deputies playing meaningless roles.

So, 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 came up short.

Yes, there was rigging of elections but he and his party should have devised ways and means to beat that. That is leadership ÔÇô 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 for maximum effect. There is no point in talking and talking while the administration of the political parties are in a shambles.

The elections of 2018 are Mr. Tsvangirai’s last roll of the dice. I call it that because I am not convinced about the dedication to achieving a certain or particular result. The MDC has always been happy to have numbers on its side yet congratulate itself even after defeat.

I am still trying to understand the rationale behind Tsvangirai and his party’s failure or 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 announce they are boycotting elections until reforms are implemented, the next they are participating.

The people have already given their lives for the MDC; they want substance. Other opposition leaders are grudgingly standing ready to give support ÔÇô I think.

I hope the MDC and Mr. Tsvangirai are ready because, as we can see, all eyes are on him. 

This might be Mr. Tsvangirai’s last chance. 

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