Tsvangirai mustn’t be allowed an easy political ride

I do not know whether to say I have enjoyed the media coverage on Tsvangirai’s latest socio-political judgement (or misjudgement, to capture the right context) or I have been disappointed by the behaviour of a man seen by many in his party as the next president of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The catalogue of errors has ranged from his ongoing off the cuff crowd matching policies down to the juicy Loca -T (damages;marriage;divorce) social crash.

I have found it rather absurd that a section of the male independent (not to be conflated with impartial) political analysts has been apportioning blame quite disproportionately on Theresa Makone, the CIO, ZANU PF and not much on Tsvangirai’s wardrobe malfunction nor his dysfunctional brain that failed to register that there was some wind blowing down there and send messages to the hand to shut the zip. The man cannot be made better through a biased attribution of blame by partisan media but by making the right calls most of the time.

I do not want to moralise on Tsvangirai’s social life, he did what many a man do but then he is not just another man, he is the leader of the main opposition. Even by Zimbabwean politics’ low standards Tsvangirai’s behaviour is not worthy of a leader. I hope he has learned his lesson and will hopefully now accept that though not brain dead he is not the cleverest man around and not presidential material. I have never been convinced that he is the right person to take the country out of the social and political quagmire and I do not need Wiki leaks to tell me that! While he is undoubtedly a fighter, he quite clearly lacks the brains and sophistication required of a president for a 21st Century impoverished African state still trying to find its place in a rapidly globalising, changing and a hugely socioeconomically imbalanced world.

I believe he has taken the opposition as far as he can and that has honestly been very far; it is not a bad call to suggest that it is now time he passed the reigns to a more dynamic leader who will chart a new direction for both the party and the country. Tsvangirai needs to think long and hard about how he can effectively contribute to Zimbabwean politics at both party and national level, albeit in a different capacity. I genuinely think Tsvangirai is increasingly becoming a liability with his frequent gaffes and contradictions. Under his leadership the fundamental difference between ZANU PF and the MDC-T is now increasingly becoming blurred; after the names the only other notable difference is that he says his party is democratic while ZANU PF does not pretend to be democratic.

It can be argued that the MDC-T has yet to come out with the clarity of attractive policies that set it apart from ZANU PF rather it owes its growth (to a great extent) on the damaged and clearly irreparable public image of ZANU PF. It is indeed telling that the main opposition still sees it necessary to talk about the MDC-N, a party Tsvangirai recently referred to as a regional party. Is it an admission that his party cannot convince anymore Zimbabweans off the clutches of a political institution as damaged as ZANU PF?

I do welcome the emergence of electronic media and do hope more will be done to increase media access by the majority of Zimbabweans. I however, have reservations with the media crafted illusion of Tsvangirai being the saviour of Zimbabwean politics; the media tries to make great politicians out of average bruisers. This problem is not exclusive to Zimbabwe but even in mature democracies newsrooms and not policies are increasingly having an unhealthy influence on public opinion. Unfortunately the gap between what the media projects as Tsvangirai’s capabilities and what are his real abilities is widening with every major policy statement he makes. At times I wonder if some of the stuff he says is his personal opinion or the position of his party. How does his MDC justify policies such as ‘compensation for victims of political violence’? What action qualifies as violence? Will those victims be from the Smith regime right down to 2011 and beyond?

One needs a foolproof sreening process and consideration for the funding for such an undertaking. In any case what makes victims of political violence a special case compared to say victims of rape or domestic violence or armed robbery? Our media has to be equally critical of Tsvangirai as it does with Mugabe and ZANU PF as well as MDC-N. If Tsvangirai is conveniently and quite deliberately shielded from media scrutiny by partisan editors he will be allowed to get away with ill-conceived policies that will not be of any help to the long-term future of the country. He cannot continue to act like a playground bully who kicks everyone about the place but cannot take the slightest of punches thrown back at him; Tsvangirai talks of the irrelevance of personality attacks yet could not resist a jibe towards the late Gibson Sibanda and he continues to attack Welshman Ncube who unfortunately does not enjoy media protection.

Tsvangirai has to stop hiding behind Theresa, CIO and ZANU PF and take full responsibility for his promiscuity and start using condoms. There was certainly full acquiescence and support from Tsvangirai in the case of Locadia Tembo; no one in their right senses will believe Theresa coerced Tsvangirai into a relationship and more. His behaviour does not send a good message in the fight against HIV infection as well as the desire to improve the general status of women in the country. To me, the tackiness of his latest sexual relationship disqualifies him from being a serious contender of Zimbabwean presidency. However, there are examples of leaders for Tsvangirai to emulate in the subcontinent; leaders who have displayed similar behaviour towards women without any adverse effect on their presidential/leadership aspirations, take the South African president as a bad example. The media should not be trying to mould a great leader out of a weak politician and an indecisive man. Tsvangirai will not be a great leader because of the media mollycoddling; only objective and honest analyses and the decisions he takes now will be the making of him. Resigning now would not be more damaging, I would imagine.

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