We deny not that ZANU PF rule has been nothing short of a socio-political disaster but so has been the Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership of the main opposition, the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC-T). Tsvangirai’s leadership has been a monumental disaster, a giant experiment that has spectacularly failed; it is time to put this embarrassment to a halt now.
The measure of a good leader is not merely doing things right, that is management; leadership is doing the right things; it is being clear to one’s values and having the ability to translate vision into reality. Significantly, leadership means taking full responsibility for your failures as much as you take compliments for successes.
Let us temporarily set aside the colonialism argument as we attempt to understand why politics of the ‘independent’ Africa continues to fail Africa and Africans while the Western politics grows from strength to strength. The global powerhouses of the West continue to get more powerful the very same way they have; they understand how politics works and make politics work for them. Change, as we continue to be informed witnesses, is the only constant in Western politics and the central feature protecting innovation and growth.
As long as one is alive growth and change should be the only constant or one will have to be either exceptionally wise or be the most stupid being not to change. Tsvangirai needs to understand and do pretty soon that growth is never by chance but hard work and that in the absence of change there is no progress. He needs to appreciate that political change in Zimbabwe will only happen when he changes himself.
Far from being the leader of political change, Tsvangirai has been an inconvenient disruption to it. Over the course of his leadership, Tsvangirai has persistently shown an uncanny discomfort whenever excellence has been expected of his leadership. While Zimbabwean politics requires new ideas, Tsvangirai’s leadership has helped to assist ZANU PF in constricting space for political innovation. He has moulded a structurally rigid MDC built to endorse the rich and powerful while pretending to understand the working class and the weak.
Tsvangirai has continually shown little patience with political creativity; because Tsvangirai lacks a clear comprehension of his own values, he has failed to make use of creative minds within his organisation choosing instead to reward innovative thinkers who dared question his leadership with ejection from the party. We see that trend in the MDC since 2005, anyone challenging the Tsvangirai stale vision has been rewarded with ejection from the party.
Tsvangirai has failed to make the MDC safe for democracy yet he wants us to believe he can deliver change to the country. He pursues a politics that only looks at yesterday and the present and not to the future. He has looked only at his right to captain the ship and never considered his responsibility for its sinking. That he may be the problem has never been a considered alternative view in his political world and that of all the beneficiaries of his leadership failures – the individuals his politics of patronage has shielded him from scrutiny.
Tsvangirai cannot alter reality; he may attempt to change the eyes that see that reality but he knows fully well that in the absence of change there is no progress. Change happens when people change; rigid minds such as Tsvangirai’s cannot change anything. It is for that reason that I argue that Tsvangirai is the wrong alternative in the Zimbabwean political space.
Tsvangirai cannot expect to change Zimbabwean politics when he is unwilling to change himself. As the leader of the MDC, Tsvangirai has not fought hard enough for the genuine liberty of Zimbabweans; he has only fought a good fight to be the president of the country. He may be relevant in the opposition but not as a leader.