Morgan Tsvangirai deserves credit

HARARE – If an alien from outer space were to suddenly land on Planet Earth and, per chance, plug into Zimbabwe’s political discourse, the poor extraterrestrial would definitely believe that Morgan Tsvangirai is the architect of Zimbabwe’s decades-old political and economic problems.


Indeed, such is the venom and gusto with which some commentators consistently savage the dogged opposition leader, that often it appears as if these confused members of our punditocracy actually believe that Tsvangirai — and not President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF — is the author of the country’s myriad crises.

And to compound the error of their ways, many of these Tsvangirai critics want Zimbabweans to think that it is the job of the former prime minister in the government of national unity alone to fight for a more democratic dispensation in the country — while all they have to do is moan from the sidelines and shellack him.

In fact, one is often left with the distinct impression that some pundits (and here I don’t mean Zanu PF apparatchiks and their hired guns) now have such a low regard — nay, hatred — for Tsvangirai, that they have actually come to believe that if he were to exit opposition politics then Zimbabwe would come right!

It boggles the mind.

Does this mean that Tsvangirai is above reproach, or that he has not made many mistakes over the past decade-and-a-half of the MDC’s difficult existence?

Not at all.

All the same, it is fair to say a more single-minded, selfish and ruthless politician — enjoying the kind of Rock star popularity and consistently large following that he has had over the years — would probably be seating happily at State House as we speak.

But we must also be ready to debate at what cost to Zimbabweans that might have happened.

For example, just imagine what could have happened if he had put his ambitions above the interests of fellow Zimbabweans and encouraged his followers to take matters into their hands when he was brazenly cheated out of a clear election victory in 2008.

Over and above this, let him or her without sin among the opposition ranks or the chattering classes cast the first stone at him — as correctly asked of the self-righteous and hypocritical Pharisees in the Gospel of John!

Let us be clear: the fact that Zimbabweans don’t often bother to focus on the many errors and misdeeds of Tsvangirai’s political competitors and his other churlish critics, just manifests these peoples’ relative insignificance in the lives of long-suffering citizens.

And in my considered opinion, his errors pale into insignificance when looked at soberly in the context of his immense personal sacrifices and contributions to the betterment of our troubled nation.

Apart from facing the gallows, suffering savage beatings, and being harassed virtually every day of his life for the past 20 years, Tsvangirai also lost his wife, Susan — in the line of unappreciated duty to the country.

Surely all this, and much more that is too numerous to point out here deserves the credit of all right-thinking Zimbabweans, not ridicule. Not so?

After all, and despite his critics’ calculated malice, Tsvangirai has never murdered anyone in cold blood, as those we all know have repeatedly done over the past 36 years, including during Gukurahundi, or when the MDC leader beat Mugabe in 2008.

Which brings me to the nub of this piece.

Who in their right mind in this country does not know that Mugabe and Zanu PF — not Tsvangirai, other people or alleged Western sanctions — are solely to blame for the debilitating mess that Zimbabwe finds itself in? Surely, there is no need for rocket science to reach this obvious conclusion?

Was it Tsvangirai who murdered 20 000 innocent fellow citizens mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the early 1980s? Was it Tsvangirai who embarked on Operation Murambatsvina?

Did he steal the 2008 elections? And is he responsible for the shameful fact that the average Zimbabwean is today way poorer than they were at the country’s independence from Britain in 1980? If anything, the country achieved some measure of economic prosperity when he was prime minister in the inclusive government as soon as he left, chaos and poverty revisited us.

So, why do some among us crassly blame Tsvangirai for what he is not responsible for?

I do have my theories, but that is an opinion for another day.

Then I also hear continuing loose talk about a so-called Third Way, as if anyone has ever been stopped or discouraged from dirtying their hands as Tsvangirai continues to do at great personal cost, and joining in the arduous fight for democracy in the country!

Indeed, if the proponents of this idea are confident that either they or their friends can do a better job of fighting to make Zimbabwe a better place for all, why not just join the race and show us what stuff they are made of, instead of consistently throwing ill-advised brickbats at the one brave man who has dared to try and do this — with all his faults and shortcomings? -Daily News

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