Zanu-PF must thank Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai

Edmund Kudzayi Political Mondays

Zanu-PF smiles from ear to ear whenever the opposition opens its mouth to speak, for that it must thank Tsvangirai.

IT’S unlikely we’ll ever get a public admission, but I suspect Zanu-PF is delighted to have Morgan Richard Tsvangirai as its principal opponent.

The man is slow to learn, a handicap that has proved invaluable to the ruling party.

Take for instance the unnecessary attack on Gregory Simpkins, a US diplomat that was recently in the country and inadvertently irritated the MDC-T by criticising their decision to boycott elections.

MDC-T wasted no time in responding and told the meddling American to mind his own business.

“We do not think on behalf of Americans,” Obert Gutu curtly retorted.

For a party whose bread is buttered in Western capitals I cannot understand what material benefit the MDC-T thought it gained by publicly antagonising one of its main benefactors.

This sort of thoughtless grandstanding is typical of MDC-T senior officials and betrays a lack of awareness as to the consequences of such recklessness.

Insulting the very people you rely on seems rather foolish.

This is not an isolated incident.

A few years ago, the MDC-T released a savage Press statement attacking Thabo Mbeki.

This followed claims by political analyst Miles Tendi that Thabo Mbeki had told him in an interview that Morgan Tsvangirai had broken off power sharing negotiations to consult the then American Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee.

A few highlights from the statement released by the MDC-T: “We derive comfort from the fact that the people of Zimbabwe do not hold the same unproductive, corrosive and dangerous views as those held by Mr Mbeki . . . We cannot change Mr Mbeki’s borrowed negative views on our party which are well documented . . . His record as an honest broker is perforated . . . It is a matter of public record that former President Mbeki, who scored a first when he was recalled as president of South Africa by his party, the ANC, has always had a low opinion of the MDC and its president.”

I’m sure Tsvangirai felt very accomplished after “putting Mbeki in his place” but it’s difficult to see what this bellicose style of engagement actually accomplishes.

It certainly does not make Zanu-PF weaker, nor does it alienate Zanu-PF’s African base which happens to also hold Mbeki in high regard.

One could argue by pointing to Zanu-PF’s anti-imperialist jingoism but the circumstances are different.

Zanu-PF needs Africa and never does anything to offend those it relies on.

Even the provocative Botswana continues to be treated with some measure of dignity.

On the other hand, the West has made no secret of its desire to end Zanu-PF’s rule.

Zanu-PF has absolutely nothing to lose by rallying its local and African base through anti-Western rhetoric.

The MDC-T has everything to lose by humiliating the West.

It also gains nothing by humiliating Mbeki who is respected across the continent.

One wonders if the MDC-T actually takes time to think before issuing its verbose and contrived press statements.

A few weeks ago, Apostle Ezekiel Guti was quoted in the Press as saying that age was not a factor in leadership and that Mugabe was still fit to lead.

The MDC-T would have none of it.

The next morning we woke up to headlines telling Guti to mind his church business and leave politics alone.

Guti boasts nearly a million followers and many more pentecostal sympathisers in this country; why would an opposition party that needs as many votes as it can get go out of its way to alienate his supporters?

How did the MDC-T think Guti’s many supporters would respond to this public rebuke of their leader?

At the height of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, there was some criticism of President Mugabe for not publicly condemning the South Africans.

While such an attack would certainly have satisfied those baying for blood and retribution, it would have been unwise.

A discreet phone call directly to Zuma would probably bear more fruit than insulting him in the media.

There are thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa and that government has been quite accommodating.

These are issues politicians must consider before deciding to issue public condemnations.

Julius Malema is a rising star in South African politics.

While it is impossible to predict how things will map out in the coming years it is not inconceivable that he will one day rejoin the ANC.

It would be unwise to antagonise him unless absolutely necessary.

Malema’s recent celebration of President Mugabe’s leadership was bound to irritate the opposition but was it necessary for the MDC to describe his views as “foolish”?

Zanu-PF smiles from ear to ear whenever the opposition opens its mouth to speak, for that it must thank Tsvangirai.


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