In the adverts, three former lovers reveal how they were dumped by Tsvangirai, 61. Then Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party chimes in to tell voters that the prime minister is unfit for office.
Though some question the ethicality of the ads, they are reducing support for Tsvangirai and his MDC
“Five years ago, I would have risked my life for Tsvangirai,” said Gerald Mlambo in Mutare, a Tsvangirai stronghold.
Now Mlambo is sufficiently racked by doubts to stay away from a nearby stadium where deafening music and a huge crowd chanting anti-Mugabe slogans is revving up for an appearance by his one-time idol.
Since the death of Tsvangirai’s wife, Susan, in a car crash in 2009, the prime minister has fathered a child on a 22-year-old and been locked in a court battle with another lover.
Harare media feasted on the claims of a South African woman who said Tsvangirai ditched her by SMS after a two-year affair.
Tsvangirai’s supporters point out that Mugabe, 89, fathered two children out of wedlock with Grace Mugabe, a secretary 41 years his junior, whom he married only after the death of his first wife, Sally.
But Tsvangirai’s troubled private life has been a gift to propagandists working to ensure Mugabe carries on as president, a post he has held since 1980.
MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the campaign ads merely serve as proof that Mugabe and Zanu-PF have nothing to offer the country.
“They are desperate. Thank God no one is listening and people are going to dump them come July 31. Our country needs politicians and leaders who focus on policies.”
But Tsvangirai faces criticism over his track record too, after five years as prime minister in the South Africa-brokered unity government under Mugabe that followed the bloody and disputed 2008 election. MDC-headed ministries have struggled to deliver promised dams and power stations, and to overhaul dilapidated water and sewerage systems, while questions have mounted about Tsvangirai’s character and ability to govern.