MY TURN WITH TICHAONA ZINDOGA
July 31. This date is one man’s unlucky day. His name is Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition MDC-T party. Four years ago he lost the country’s “harmonised” elections with Zanu-PF sweeping local, parliamentary and presidential elections in a massive reversal for the MDC-T following years of cohabitation in the inclusive Government.
The inclusive Government was a consociational “power-sharing” arrangement that came thanks to the close results of 2008 and the crisis that ensued. For many in the opposition, a power- sharing agreement was a strategy to “take power from within”.
But then July 31 happened.
Tsvangirai and his party took a massive knock with Zanu-PF gaining almost two-thirds majority in Parliament while President Mugabe triumphed over his old foe by a similar margin.
That is how we ended up at a place where we are now: Zanu-PF is the strongest party in the country by any measure while the main opposition is doddering and staring another defeat if elections were to be held today.
That is the nomenclature of reputable pollsters and think-tanks.
Elections are due next year.If President Mugabe feels like it, he may proclaim another July 31 as the election date.
Which will be Tsvangirai’s nightmare!Perhaps we are being superstitious. However, the date appears to have a real and continuing bad luck for Tsvangirai.
Monday was July 31.
It was a day that the MDC-T leader had declared that all his opposition peers must have kowtowed into a coalition with him and he would announce the formation of a “grand coalition”.
We can imagine that he had already set the stage, along the photogenic Mrs Tsvangirai, at his Highlands mansion, or perhaps some hotel for a change, to proclaim his readiness to take on President Mugabe, buoyed by a phalanx of opposition figures from Joice Mujuru to whatever little name else.
But it was not to be.
In fact, July 31 has just shown us how vulnerable and weak Tsvangirai and his party are at the moment.
When he announced this deadline earlier in the month, he had sought to stampede opposition parties, in particular National People’s Party and its leader Joice Mujuru, into an agreement.
Mujuru was defiant. And she was right. On July 31, the score read Mujuru 1: Tsvangirai 0. That is a serious political marker. It is critical that we locate and explain this.
The opposition is agreed on the need for a coalition but not on who should lead it and how Government positions should be shared and parliamentary seats will be contested.
MDC-T wants others as junior partners. In particular, Mujuru does not want such a subservient role.
She has grown in confidence over the past months and has shown to feel that she could lead the coalition herself. In fact, she is increasingly becoming irritated by Tsvangirai and company’s sense of entitlement and “big brother” attitude.
Which is why when Tsvangirai decreed July 31, Mujuru scoffed at the idea.
“I think the deadline was an issue that they gave themselves because they did not want to go about it blindly,” Mujuru was quoted as telling a local daily a fortnight ago.
It was on the occasion of her commandeering an alliance with one Gilbert Dzikiti and his outfit called Democratic Assembly for Restoration and Empowerment (Dare).
She explained: “But what I see with my peers is that the things that we need to get to a point where people will be satisfied that everything is in good order; July 31, would it be a practical date, is it feasible to meet our needs?
“It is not about that date, no, but we are saying the ingredients that will make a coalition possible should be in place. We are well aware of the need to do it timeously.
“Others are so full of themselves, they are always saying they are the centre of everything, they are forgetting that we have a history of people who split from their parties and these are the same people now seating (sic) on the coalition table,” she said.
“We don’t want to be sucked into those battles of the past, as we try to settle for this grand coalition.”
There you have it!
Joice Mujuru would not be cowed by Tsvangirai and she is slowly gaining the initiative on the serial opposition leader. That is how she brewed yet another bitter July 31 for Tsvangirai.
And if Tsvangirai and company are honest to themselves and to God, they should know that the best of their days are behind them. The once seemingly formidable opposition leader and worker-based party are both shells of the past.
Tsvangirai is unwell.
He is devoid of the fire and passion of yesteryear and the returns on his capital of 20 years ago have diminished progressively and decisively. He has not been able to craft a new narrative.
He is no longer a god. The halo has been spirited from him. Mujuru, or even Tendai Biti, Elton Mangoma, or anyone for that matter, can challenge him to a fight – and win
MDC-T cannot stem the growing despondency in its base. Many think, correctly, that 2018 is gone. So will be Tsvangirai. The more pragmatic players and watchers are budgeting for 2023, and Tsvangirai will definitely be out of the picture.
Such an unlucky man as he!