One and the same

Zimbabwe's current political conundrum is hinged on Zanu-PF's weakness and the opposition's confusion.

03 November 2017 | Africa

Zanu-PF is engulfed in a fierce succession battle and it has never been this weak since its formation in 1963. On the other hand, the opposition finds itself enmeshed in the doldrums of confusion. In other words, Zimbabwe’s political infrastructure is frail and uninspiring at the moment. This sets the stage for what is most likely going to be a dull and uneventful election in 2018.

However, any election anywhere is critical. In Zimbabwe’s context, despite the frail political infrastructure, the forthcoming 2018 election is actually a watershed moment. Its importance is not only premised on how the outcome may impact a number of things and ultimately the country’s trajectory, but on the fact that this election is likely going to mark the end of an era and maybe error.

Two fierce rivals

Zimbabwe’s political landscape is chiefly dominated by two fierce rivals, President Robert Mugabe and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Ever since the replacement of white minority rule with black majority rule, these two political strongmen have shaped the political course and narrative of Zimbabwe more than any other individuals.

Zimbabweans have perennially and precariously meandered in the corridors of failure, anxiety and despondency chiefly premised on what most view as Mugabe’s entitlement and Tsvangirai’s victimhood. The departure of these political nemeses from Zimbabwe’s political scene will usher in new and interesting dynamics. They have undoubtedly inscribed an indelible mark on Zimbabwean politics.

Who is Robert Mugabe?

Robert Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924 at Kutama in Zvimba district, where he took his formative education classes. Mugabe later worked as a school teacher in the then Rhodesia and Ghana before joining politics. After embracing and absorbing Marxism, Mugabe became one of the first black Zimbabwean nationalists who spoke against white minority rule. This led to his arrest and subsequent stay in prison between 1963 and 1974.

After spending approximately 10 years in prison, Mugabe moved to Mozambique where he established a base from which he directed Zanu's efforts in the war against Ian Smith’s regime. At the end of a protracted bush war and the subsequent Lancaster House Agreement, Mugabe led Zanu to victory in the 1980 general elections thereby becoming the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, while Canaan Banana became President.

In 1987, after the merging of Zanu and PF Zapu to form Zanu-PF, Mugabe became President. From 1980 to date, Mugabe has presided over the affairs of Zimbabwe.

And 37 years of Mugabe’s leadership have seen Zimbabwe oscillating between hope and despondency. In 37 years, Mugabe made and destroyed his legacy. Undeniably now in the dusk of his political and earthly life, Mugabe represents two things - the liberation struggle and victory over white minority rule and leadership failure for being unable to steer the country towards meaningful development.

A cut-throat politician, Mugabe has maintained his grip on power using any possible means. He allows nothing and no-one to stand in the way of his pathological need for power and adulation. In order to retain power, Mugabe has presided over monumental human rights violations such as Gukurahundi, the chaotic land redistribution programme, Murambatsvina/Clean up Campaign, multiple electoral frauds and even the demise of his opponents under suspicious circumstances.

Who is Morgan Tsvangirai?

Morgan Tsvangirai was born in 1952 in Buhera district as the eldest of nine children. After completing high school, Tsvangirai worked in the textile and mining industries. In 1980, Tsvangirai joined Zanu and he rose through the ranks within the party before becoming actively involved in the affairs of Zimbabwe’s trade union movement. In 1989, he became the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the umbrella trade union organisation in the country. Tsvangirai was instrumental in leading ZCTU from the Zanu-PF hegemony. This led to the unavoidable breakdown of his relationship with Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai’s critical role in the leadership of the labour movement catapulted him to be one of the founding members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 1999. Under his courageous leadership, the MDC became an instant challenge to Zanu PF, proving to be a worthy alternative.

Tsvangirai and the MDC have won elections against Mugabe and Zanu-PF, but they were denied the opportunity and right to assume power by the incumbent. For instance, the 2008 election is a stark attestation of how Tsvangirai and the MDC won elections, but Mugabe and Zanu-PF stood in the way of a power transfer leading to the formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009. The GNU was made up of Zanu-PF and the opposition. Tsvangirai was the prime minister and Mugabe remained president for the entire duration of the GNU.

Ever since its formation, the MDC has participated in elections with Tsvangirai as its presidential candidate. His leadership prowess or lack thereof has been tested several times.

In 2005, the MDC suffered its first major split when the then secretary-general Welshman Ncube left the party together with others, to form their own party. History repeated itself after a shock defeat of the opposition in the 2013 election. Party secretary-general, Tendai Biti left the party in 2014 together with the likes of Elton Mangoma to form another opposition party.

In spite of all that, Tsvangirai remained standing and he is still standing albeit on shaky ground. Ever since the disbanding of the GNU in 2013, Tsvangirai’s political and personal troubles seem to have escalated. Ultimately, Tsvangirai remains the face of the ostensibly fractured opposition as evidenced by his assumption of the MDC Alliance leadership. The MDC Alliance comprises of Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, Ncube’s MDC, Biti’s PDP and other smaller political parties. There are other opposition alliances, the Coalition of Democrats (CODE) alliance led by Mangoma and the People’s Rainbow Alliance led by former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.

What do Mugabe and Tsvangirai have in common?

1. They both uphold politics of personalities

The Mugabe-Tsvangirai era is infested by what I deem to be a political or leadership error. Both of them exhibit this error. Mugabe and Tsvangirai are unquestionable masters of politics of personalities. They have both erroneously built themselves into not only becoming the faces of their political formations, but the lifeline of those. Zimbabwean politics is not premised on systems, but personalities.

Even though it may be wise for both to be resting from active politics by now, they continue to hazardously hold on to power.

2. They are both ideas and a way of doing things

In Zanu-PF it is Mugabe the person and Mugabe the system. In MDC-T, it’s Tsvangirai the person and Tsvangirai the system. These two political godfathers must not be viewed and analysed as mere persons. They are more than that within the organisations they lead.

Both have become an idea and a way of doing things within their political formations. They are revered and recognised by their followers as the centres of power. Those who dare to go against these two individuals within their organisations automatically find themselves in the feather plucking den.

3. They are both unwell

Mugabe and Tsvangirai are both grappling with health challenges. At 93, Mugabe is obviously frail and fighting ailments which come along with old age. Although he appears strong for his age, Mugabe often travels to the Far East for medical attention.

His health status has attracted attention on numerous occasions after falling asleep during a meeting/conference or after tripping when walking. On the other hand, Tsvangirai is not well and in 2016 he revealed that he was undergoing cancer treatment. His health situation has seen him travelling to South Africa several times for treatment.

4. They both divide and rule

Mugabe and Tsvangirai both accentuate the divide and rule approach in their leadership. Cliques and factions are inevitable in any organisation. They are a result of growth and convergence or divergence of interests.

As we approach the 2018 election, the most important question I find myself striving to satiate with an answer is whether the 2018 elections will mark the end of the Mugabe-Tsvangirai era and of course the error attached to this era. If nothing drastic happens between now and the 2018 elections, all indicators point towards the fact that it is pretty much going to be a two-horse race. The horses will be Mugabe and Tsvangirai. – News24

*Patson Dzamara is a political analyst, leadership coach and author based in Zimbabwe

Paston Dzamara

Similar News

 

EFF set to take 10% from the ANC

1 day - 24 September 2018 | Africa

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) could double its support in next year's elections at the expense of the ANC, which could shed as much as...

Over 200 feared dead

1 day - 24 September 2018 | Africa

Grieving families were yesterday preparing to bury victims of Tanzania's devastating ferry disaster, with more than 200 confirmed dead after the crowded boat capsized in...

Death toll of Tanzanian ferry disaster passes 200

2 days ago - 23 September 2018 | Africa

The death toll from the ferry that capsized in Lake Victoria has risen to 218 and may further grow, state media has reported. Minister for...

Cholera death toll climbs

1 week ago - 18 September 2018 | Africa

The capital of Zimbabwe, Harare, has been inundated by the outbreak, with more than 3 000 cases reported. NGOs have accused the government of spending...

Geingob mourns Annan

1 month - 18 August 2018 | Africa

President Hage Geingob has expressed his sadness at the passing of the former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Geingob described the late UN...

Creating prosperity is paramount - Geingob

1 month - 17 August 2018 | Africa

President Hage Geingob, in his acceptance speech as incoming SADC chairperson, this morning said the region has a mandate to fulfill prosperity and eradicate poverty...

Sisulu bemoans trade bottlenecks

1 month - 17 August 2018 | Africa

Bottlenecks, as well as inadequate infrastructure and customs procedures, are among the issues that SADC will have to tackle as a matter of urgency, in...

Visa exemptions to be expedited

1 month - 16 August 2018 | Africa

SADC countries that have not taken initiatives to operationalise bilateral visa exemptions have been directed by the SADC Council of Ministers to expedite this and...

New dawn for DRC

1 month - 15 August 2018 | Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) president Joseph Kabila's decision not to stand for elections this December paves the way for the country to finally bounce...

Mnangagwa oye natango omupresidende Zimbabwe

1 month - 15 August 2018 | Africa

Emmerson Mnangagwa oye ta kalelepo Zimbambwe pethimbo lyomutumba gwiigwana yaSADC, ngoka tagu ningilwa mOvenduka, shaNamibia oshiwike shika.Emmerson Mnangagwa oye ta kala oupresidende gwaZimbabwe e na...

Latest News

Chinese swoop on Rössing

15 hours ago | Business

CATHERINE SASMAN State firm China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is said to be in pole position to acquire the majority...

RDP bungles councillor’s resignation

15 hours ago | Politics

KENYA KAMBOWEA former Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) town councillor, who resigned from the party about seven weeks ago, says he is still receiving...

Asparagus project in Omusati boosted

15 hours ago | Business

Namibia's first-ever asparagus agro-processing factory will be sustained by a 360-hectare production area once full capacity is reached.A 60 ha plantation is already underway at...

Kalkfeld business market for free

15 hours ago | Business

A public market at the Kalkfeld business park under the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) will be leased to the Otjozondjupa Regional Council (ORC) from October...

Swapo elders ‘ignorant’

15 hours ago | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES The Damara King’s Council has branded the Swapo Party Elders’ Council ignorant following its suggestion last week that...

Entrepreneurs: When the going gets...

15 hours ago | Banking

Entrepreneurs are people are skilled at adapting and being resilient in uncertain situations and come up with new, different and innovative ideas.“The challenges currently being...

TransNamib’s shocking meltdown

15 hours ago | Columns

The Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (Natau) has become the latest organisation to hit out at the TransNamib board for alleged interference. The Paul...

Laughter is the best medicine

15 hours ago | Health

Henriette Lamprecht – It’s contagious and good medicine – not only for the body, but for the mind and soul as well. It lightens your...

Smelling the roses is not...

15 hours ago | Health

In today’s rat race it’s easy to lose your way in the daily grind while trying to keep your head above water. Our responsibilities as...

Load More