Morgan Tsvangirai in the lenses of pragmatists

In the Zimbabwean political history, Morgan Tsvangirai stands out as having been the only formidable challenger of Robert Mugabe. However, there is more than meets the eye, concerning the man credited with the feat of exposing ZANU PF’s hypocrisy. There is a black spot that made it impossible for Tsvangirai to access the State House, even after the 2002 elections.

MDC is a party that has escaped possible demise, for the last twenty years. There has not been any other political party surviving that long in Zimbabwe. Without subtracting much from the late Morgan Tsvangirai, truth, though unpalatable, is necessary. The younger generation ought to be accorded truthful information, in shaping the brighter future of this country.

Obviously, for political expediency, there are those, within the MDC, appearing as unwilling to be associated with criticizing the late political icon. MDC is said to be heavily infiltrated by ZANU PF spies. But the same party may have, actually, captured the man who could have won the presidency, as early as 2002. It is convenient to blame ZANU PF, for its rigging machinery, and the treacherous Thabo Mbeki, who blatantly failed to support the suppressed majority.

But the poignant question ought to be: Did MDC have formidable leadership, in Morgan Tsvangirai? Like many Zimbabweans, I supported the MDC, though not a fully-fledged member.  ZANU PF might congratulate themselves for having out-witted the capitulating and unprincipled Morgan Tsvangirai. But, the same ZANU PF was, actually, shortchanged. As a revolutionary party, ZANU PF needed galvanization, in preserving its legacy, as a liberation movement.

Currently, ZANU PF appears as non-redeemable, due to the scarcity of qualitative leadership in opposition parties. Morgan Tsvangirai stood for democracy. But he appears as not having believed in the tenets of democracy. He did not have the qualities of a true revolutionary leader.

The real reason for this was the paranoia, gripping most African countries, as sustained in the effects of colonialism. Morgan Tsvangirai appears as having had the black spot of this paranoia. Or that he simply thought it was prudent to listen to the political turncoats, within his camp, affected by the same malady. Tsvangirai did not want to offend Mugabe, and yet appearing as opposed to Mugabe’s ruinous leadership.

True leaders are not found among those, afraid to offend. Such leaders stand for principles, rather than being pleasers of those around them. The consideration of principle is senior to everything when it comes to honorable leadership. Successful leaders may listen to advisers. But they remain faithful to the cause, as not losing sight of the common goal.

Remembering Morgan Richard Tsvangirai | 263Chat

It may be the MDC that owes Tonderai Ndiraya and others, killed in blatant ZANU PF brutality, rather than the killers, themselves. Those who lost their lives sought to advance democracy. Our local courts could not resist impudence in handling the truth, possibly, also in fear of losing their own lives? It would have taken a leader of high moral character in the opposition platform, to remain unyielding, on matters of principle.

Western countries ingenuously appeared as attempting to rescue Zimbabweans in their quagmire—imposing token sanctions against ZANU PF leaders. The problem with token sanctions is that they have a tendency of worsening the plight of the deprived people. The Shona proverb is germane: “Kana wasarudza kudya imbwa, idya riri gono” (Loosely translated: “Having chosen to eat a dog, better eat the masculine one”).

Of course, a weakened African country is advantageous to Western nations. But, no sane person should find wrongness in imposing sanctions on ZANU PF, when responding to blatant human rights violations. Unfortunately, such token sanctions serve to bolster the ZANU PF propaganda machinery, to magnify the recolonization conspiracy. This made it easy for the cap of the Western puppetry to squarely fit onto the MDC movement.

Having endured the twenty years of being in opposition, rather than in government, reeks the lack of principled leadership in the MDC. It is necessary to analyze the glaring blunders of that party, in the last twenty years. This is drawn from that party’s failure to utilize constitutional provisions, to avert the existent crisis in the country.

For instance, MDC was so pliant as to allow ZANU PF’s politicization of the traditional leaders in rural areas—blatantly violating the constitution. One cannot oppose and agree, at the same time, and expect to achieve anything. There is no insanity that goes deeper than mixing good and evil. Perhaps the Achilles heel of the MDC is in attracting too many lawyers within its ranks?

The problem with the so-called Law experts is a failure to think outside legal technicalities. The law courts may have been captured by ZANU PF, making it impossible to hope for positive political rulings. But where was MDC’s plan B, towards the common goal? Millions of US dollars were unnecessarily splashed in crafting a new constitutional document in 2013. But, clearly, the Zimbabwean problem had nothing to do with the constitution.

Even the discredited Lancaster House constitution, could have been viable, in the hands of responsible leadership. In 1980, the only formidable opposition party had been Joshua Nkomo’s PF ZAPU. However, the ZANU PF’s scandalous ascension, sought to take advantage of tribalism, known to have been cancerous in Africa.

The Patriotic Front, comprising ZAPU and ZANU, appeared as would bring a civilized foundation for democracy in Zimbabwe. I had all along supported Robert Mugabe, in my naivety, attracted by his command of English. The shock of my life came immediately after the signing of the Lancaster House political agreement.

Robert Mugabe declared that ZANU would fight elections, independently, not as a united Patriotic Front. I could sense the immediate death of our country, at that point. But, surprisingly, some of my friends, with whom I had shared support for the liberation struggle, couldn’t see the danger in that stance. The rest is captured in what eventually happened, as now narrated in political history.

The advent of MDC revived some hope. I honestly had not imagined that ZANU PF could win, in future elections, after the 2000 constitutional referendum. The simplest thing, for the opposition party, could have been to enforce constitutionalism, using the available statutory regulations, at the time. The newly formed MDC party could not perceive that the Zimbabwean problem lay in leadership, rather than in the constitution.

Instead of being assertive in using the prevailing constitution, the MDC granted ZANU PF with the license to blatantly violate it willy-nilly. A notable example, is the trivialization of the army commander’s declaration, not to salute a president without liberation credentials. Apparently, the MDC assumed prudence in not suing for such a treasonous statement.

The precedent was set, right at that point, leading to what currently prevails. I suppose it is unfair to blame ZANU PF, for such a clearly reckless statement from the army commander?  What did MDC do, to address the irregularity?  The entire MDC leadership—rich with constitutional lawyers—could not see anything wrong, except to make jokes about it?

At the helm of the MDC party’s leadership was Morgan Tsvangirai, the late iconic hero of the opposition forces. This is the same man who did not know what to do, even after overwhelmingly winning elections in the year 2008. The Western countries, especially America, had desired to intervene.

Obviously, by now we would not be talking about the problems we are experiencing in Zimbabwe, had such intervention been accessed? However, the conspiracy theory in colonial puppetry brought timidity. Nothing else could spur the self-abnegated Tsvangirai, to communicate from the position of strength, as having clearly won the elections.

The South African President Thabo Mbeki facilitated the crafting of the inclusive arrangement. As negotiating from the position of self-abnegation, Tsvangirai assumed statesmanship, in accepting such a stupid arrangement—making him subservient to a man having butchered hundreds of his supporters. On paper, that arrangement meant that there would be fifty-fifty executive authority in governance.

It is on public record that this was never to be implemented by a crafty ZANU PF, openly violating that agreement. They knew the caliber of the person they were dealing with. The South African facilitator, Lindiwe Zulu, became so frustrated with such corrosive stupidity, on the part of MDC.

Dr. Ibbo Mandaza also affirmed the fact that the MDC grouping, actually, spurned the wise counseling by SADC leaders. The malady of self-abnegation was still gripping Morgan Tsvangirai. He could not resist respecting a man who had murdered over twenty thousand ZAPU supporters including thousands of his own supporters. Had he been bewitched to fail to see such realities?

He participated in the 2013 elections, expected to be decisive, in settling the leadership question. He sat in the comfort of his year 2008 win—thereby participating in that facade plebiscite, even without a voters role. To the pragmatists, it was obvious that such a leader could, actually, be worse than ZANU PF. As now prevailing in the public domain, Tsvangirai went ahead to violate his own party’s constitution. Appointing two vice presidents, behind his deputy’s back.

While I reserve no kind words for Dr. Khuphe’s behavior, either, I find MDC’s current problems as emanating from Tsvangirai’s blunders. The earlier the MDC accepts this reality, the better. In other words, there is no survival in portraying Tsvangirai as iconic, when the record suggests otherwise. It is only the truth that sets people free.

What prevails in MDC, is a manifestation of a rotten legacy, left by none other than Morgan Tsvangirai. It is itself a corruption to keep assuming that Tsvangirai was a great leader when the truth portrays him as having lacked wisdom. This is not to say nothing good could be found in Tsvangirai’s leadership, necessarily.

He simply was a man who lacked the tenacity to maintain principles of conviction. The ZANU PF implants within the MDC took advantage of Tsvangirai’s weaknesses. The controversial Supreme Court judgment should not be viewed as unbalanced, necessarily. Although unfortunately, it seems, Madam Khuphe has now become so unprincipled, as to be at the service of the cunning ZANU PF.

Her comrades within the MDC structures ought to understand her condition in such behavior. She lacks integrity, but she could have been straightened up by a principled leadership, within that party, as long as not obsessed with conspiracy theories.

What is required now is to knock some sense of principle into the minds of the entire fragmented MDC leadership. What could it be, that causes MDC members to fail to rediscover each other? It seems they are stuck in assuming that Tsvangirai, who caused such traumas in their structures, was a hero. When guided by principle, they cannot keep pretending that Tsvangirai was great, when the opposite is clearly true.

It is, actually, cultish, to maintain theories that deify human leaders, ahead of common sense. It may be necessary to speak glowingly, of a few achievements by Tsvangirai. But it is also necessary to highlight his dark spots, in order to avoid falling into such trappings. Wisdom cannot be monopolized, just as stupidity cannot be monopolized.

Instead of talking about POLAD, it is important for the opposition forces to coalesce and establish a common goal. This ought to start, where MDC T and MDCA sincerely agree on the follies of their late iconic leader, before fostering a united objective. Such an initiative should never be assumed as too late.

The problem with Zimbabweans is in relying too much on conspiracies rather than reason. Our people assume that there is survival in blaming one another, yet the opposite is true. This is fanned by a public media that lacks objective reporting. I find it nauseating when observing the constant highlighting of fancied factionalism in both MDC and ZANU PF.

For instance, what’s appetizing about reporting factionalism, pitting ED, and his deputy Constantine Chiwenga? Many gullible people, even go as far as suggesting the likelihood of Chiwenga staging another coup, to snatch power from ED. Instead of writing reasonable stories, our Newspapers find comfort in regurgitating such garbage.

Our freedom lies in focusing on truth, rather than maintaining fallacious ideas, suggesting that Zimbabwe is different from other countries. Each of us carries some responsibility, starting with discarding the paranoia of colonialism and cultish behavior. While I currently, have much respect for Nelson Chamisa, appearing as a good leader, I cannot go as far as deifying him.

I do not think there is truth in assuming that Zimbabwe is not yet mature as a democracy. What is needed is simply applying reason into our thinking patterns. Zimbabwe is not a monarchy, but a republic, whose future ought to be shaped by the united Zimbabweans. Otherwise, we continue being a laughing stock of the world. MDC should find each other and cement their relationship, as a matter of urgency.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at  for $6.99