ZIMBABWE – Poor Morgan Tsvangirai! You must have it in your heart to pity this man from Buhera. Life has not been kind with him, especially politically, which is as much as we can focus on for him as an animal. Many remember him as the firebrand politician who earned his stripes as a trade unionist at the turn of the century.He was to venture into politics and, admittedly, he announced his entry into the arena with the MDC then unseen and unmatched post-independence political muscle.
He was irresistible, for better or worse, and very nearly overran this country with his bandwagon, in particular in 2008, nine short years after the formation of the party.
Of course it must quickly be pointed out that we run the risk of giving him too much credit, known as it is that there were several forces seen and unseen; overt and covert; obvious and implied, that were at play.
We know, for example, that the West was in particular was behind Tsvangirai by both night and day; which helped shape Tsvangirai into a politician he could not muster on his own as a very plain guy from Uhera.
But so many things have intervened. There was the split in 2005 and another in 2014.There have been successive electoral defeats.
Tsvangirai tasted power once and lost his virginity as a politician who could rule, and be judged on it.
He can also be judged for his morals, with his philandering ways having been brought out the worst during his days in the inclusive Government.
We will not belabour those legendary exploits.
In a nutshell, Tsvangirai is no longer the politician that he was once — at best.
He is now like that proverbial old anthill where the snake lodged.
No longer god, be Mandela!
Part of the problem is that Tsvangirai is no longer seen as the be-all-end-all of opposition politics.
His subalterns have come to doubt his capabilities and leadership.
It began with Welshman, as we all know, and he always has choice words for Tsvangirai — especially so why he can never work with him again.
The split of 2005 lifted the halo around Tsvangirai as an opposition god, although he still retained some worth which, however, continues to wisp away in a kind of miasma.
The year 2013, which saw Tsvangirai being defeated in yet another election, precipitated another phase in the dwindling fortunes.
It started as whispers about how Tsvangirai would never defeat his nemesis called Robert Mugabe.
The whispers became grumbles and open rebellion.
If you care to remember, using this sequence, it was Elias Mudzuri who threw the debate wide open, with the suggestion, among five, that Tsvangirai should step down.
It was in November 2013.
It would be useful to recall that, according to Mudzuri, scenario 1 was that, the status-quo remains and MDC go for the 2016 Congress with the current leadership; 2: an urgent Extraordinary Congress before 2016; 3: Morgan Tsvangirai and the whole team are contested at the 2016 Congress and a new leadership emerges in the MDC; 4: Morgan Tsvangirai is the godfather of the party.
He steps down ceremoniously and a new leader is elected. He becomes a “Mandela” of the party and; 5: Morgan Tsvangirai does not step down. He keeps the support base and those not happy can form their own party or join the various sprouting political outfits in the country.
It goes without saying that these were permutations that were, and have been, running in Morgan Tsvangirai’s house. Some things have come to pass, indeed as we have seen in the MDC Renewal movement, which further split between Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma.
(Note that in a couple more months, a letter emerged written by Mangoma to Tsvangirai asking the latter to step down, a move that precipitated the break away, amid lot of drama).
Yet things have never stabilised for Tsvangirai and his MDC-T.
Even after the purging of the likes of Biti and Mangoma, the opposition outfit has remained shaky.
This is especially so in light of reports of a putsch within the party allegedly led by vice president Thokhozani Khupe, who from what we see, imagines herself commanding a lot of support, especially in the niche of Matabeleland.
If memory serves right, she even organised a march against her leader when he visited Bulawayo some time back.
In January, a local daily reported that “a fresh storm” was brewing in the MDC-T with party leader threatening to dissolve the party’s provincial structures accused of waging a social media campaign to hold another elective congress next year to choose a new leadership.
The report noted that the push for a fresh congress came three months after the main opposition party held an extraordinary congress in Harare following the defection of several top officials to the MDC Renewal Team.
It was reported that some members were not happy with some of the constitutional amendments adopted at the (extraordinary) congress, especially the decision to give Tsvangirai wide executive powers to run the party.
(But then this is Tsvangirai — always tinkering and tweaking his way to longevity!)
Run, Morgan, run!
But that was not to be the end of the story.
Only this week, the same newspaper reported that; “MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has sensationally claimed there is a fresh plot to oust him from the leadership of the party he helped found, saying some of his lieutenants were plotting a fresh congress so they could kick him out.”
Will this man ever have a rest?
He is quoted as saying; “When we came from our congress, we heard that others had already started campaigning for the next congress. That will not bring the desired change we want.”
Knives are pointing at him from all directions.
He has to daily run away from trouble — and to fight.
But it will always catch up with him.
He can only run so fast and so far but he will not find anywhere to hide.
Sad for him, the energy he expends fighting his MDC-T enemies would have been useful energy to fight the more formidable challenge of the ruling party.
Meanwhile, we hear that there are already fights between Tsvangirai’s side and that of People First, his preferred bedfellows, over the allocation of positions for a yet-to-be-formed coalition.
Pretty soon we may hear him in a nasty fight with Joice Mujuru on who should lead the alliance.
But then, if that coalition were to come to pass, it would also buy time for our besieged Morgan.
He better buy so much of it.