MY TURN WITH TICHAONA ZINDOGA
Morgan Tsvangirai is ill. Let’s all pray for him. The opposition MDC-T leader was last year diagnosed with colon cancer and it has taken a toll on his health, wasting away his once bouncing, chubby self.
He is undergoing medical treatment in South Africa and rumour mongers have already started saying things. Some speculation is that he has been given a few months to live – which we all pray is not true.
The former trade unionist himself at the weekend confirmed to a weekly newspaper that he was “not dying” (“I’m not dying, says Tsvangirai”; The Standard, July 23, 2017)
He said: “I am feeling fine; I am responding well to treatment . . . This misrepresentation [that he has months to live] is meant to create a certain impression that Tsvangirai is not able to go to the next election.
“You know I am undergoing treatment and it is not a new thing, the only surprise is when you see people blow it out of proportion and mistake treatment for a death sentence,” he explained.
Further: “You know it is inhuman to do that (speculate about his health). I am still fine. I am responding well to treatment. It takes time but as you know, all treatments have a process. That is how I feel. All this talk that I am going to die in six months, I am bed-ridden, is nothing but false.”
Tsvangirai said those who were visiting him knew better of his state of health.
He noted that his health had become a political issue ahead of elections next year (and internally within the MDC-T, we must add.)
“They want to make my health an election issue and, unfortunately, they will not succeed. So, Mr Tsvangirai is raring to go come 2018,” he declared.
That indeed is a lot of explaining to do!
Many observers, and more poignantly so his supporters may feel that something is wrong – and worryingly so.
Question marks about Tsvangirai’s suitability to continue leading the opposition party, and possibly a coalition of parties, are increasing.
“Is Tsvangirai fit to run for presidency?” reads a headline in the Daily News of July 17.
The paper has been a well-known supporter of Tsvangirai and the MDC-T so much so that some people had to be forgiven for thinking that the paper was the party’s official mouthpiece.
Upon Tsvangirai’s return “from his routine medical check-up” the paper posed the question whether Tsvangirai, who had just returned from South Africa where he is being treated, was “fit enough to withstand the rigours of a taxing election campaign that lies ahead”.
The paper used to spare such special musings regarding President Mugabe who, at the ripe age of 93 today, appears healthier and more “raring to go come 2018”, to borrow from Tsvangirai himself, than the man some 30 or so years his junior.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, was at pains to explain away his boss’s affliction and worrying prospects.
“You know that those rumours are nonsense … Such ill-wishes will not detract the people’s president from his mission to liberate Zimbabwe from the clutches of this inept regime,” Tamborinyoka told Daily News.
We wish Tsvangirai well.
As a matter of fact, what is more interesting as a subject of discussion and inquiry than his physical health is the state of his political health – and indications are that his prospects are diminishing and wasting away cancerously.
There is a near universal agreement that Tsvangirai will lose elections next year and this will be the end of him and the MDC-T as we know it.
(“T” stands for “Tsvangirai”, by the way.)
The likely defeat of Tsvangirai, who has led the opposition for the past 18 years, will signal the end of an era and it is something that is even welcomed within his party and opposition movement circles.
We may as well start writing Tsvangirai’s obituary.
On Monday, the Daily News – again – indicated to us that Tsvangirai was dying, politically.
The paper carried a story in which respected political scientist Eldred Masunungure painted a bleak picture of Tsvangirai and his prospects and how the initiative was with the ruling Zanu-PF (as always), President Mugabe’s party.
Said Masunungure: “Coalition or no coalition, the opposition will emerge second best. I have no illusions on who will emerge victorious. Maybe you can debate about 2023, not 2018. Zanu-PF has already won.
“The opposition, with a big tent coalition, the best it can achieve is second best and it should work for that to prevent Zanu-PF winning two thirds majority.
“Zanu-PF has a super majority and it can do whatever it wants because of the sheer number it has in Parliament and it is for that reason it will win.” According to Masunungure, the much vaunted coalition may not happen, after all.
“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” says Masunungure.
“There is a lot of wishful thinking among some Zimbabweans. The Afrobarometer survey showed that a large majority, including some in Zanu-PF, would like to see a coalition but we know the role of egoism in and out of politics.”
Tsvangirai has the biggest ego around. He has been saying he should lead the coalition and that the coalition must assume the name of MDC-T. He has commissioned “Memoranda of Understanding” that have been signed at his Highlands residence.
Joice Mujuru is unimpressed. So is Dumiso Dabengwa. Tendai Biti is ambivalent. Welshman Ncube appears to be the only notable figure keen and supportive. A grand coalition appears impossible and Big Brother Morgan is the cause.
The irony is that the same coalition is the mechanism that was supposed to save him.