Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka has written an opinion piece entitled: Morgan Tsvangirai is a true democrat, in which he says the current debate about leadership renewal in the MDC was actually kicked off by the party leader.
He says Tsvangirai urged the party to begin an honest and frank debate about leadership renewal within the party in August last year despite the fact that he still had three more years in office.
“It is not every day that a leader in his second year of a five-year term can encourage open debate and discussion about leadership renewal,” Tamborinyoka wrote. “But being the democrat he is, Morgan Tsvangirai encouraged debate despite owing his mandate to congress and not to individuals, including individuals in the Standing Committee.”
“That several officials and leaders in the party, lately deputy treasurer –general Elton Mangoma, have publicly spoken about the need for leadership renewal and their wish to lead the MDC speaks to the thriving and evident democracy in the party.
“It speaks to a leadership that does not censor or curtail ambition. It speaks to a party where robust debate and free speech are the currency”.
But immediately after this Tamborinyoka says: “Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday addressed party activists at Harvest House and told them that no harm should visit Mangoma, guaranteeing his safety when he turns up at the party headquarters.”
Unless this sentence was misplaced it speaks volumes about democracy within the party. Is Tsvangirai the democrat who did not stop taking Elias Mudzuri for a game of golf though he had expressed his willingness to lead the party if elected, while his supporters are not democrats and would want to deal with anyone that challenges the party leader?
If not, why would Tsvangirai ask his supporters not to harm Mangoma? And why would they want to deal with Mangoma if they do not have the explicit, but maybe covert, backing of their leader?
Morgan Tsvangirai is a true democrat
By Luke Tamborinyoka
The on-going robust debate in the MDC about leadership and organizational renewal is a major testament about the democratic credentials of the party and its leader, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.
It was Morgan Tsvangirai himself who, in a national executive meeting in August 2013, urged the party to begin honest and frank debate about leadership renewal in the MDC, notwithstanding the fact that he is still serving his five-year term.
There was no reason for members of the party to hide and skirt around this debate after the MDC leader, true to character and his commitment to transparency and honesty, encouraged honest debate about this matter.
Since the gigantic fraud of July 31, I have travelled with the President and attended 45 meetings with grassroots structures across the country from the first meeting in Chivi, Masvingo, on 3 September 2013 to the last meetings we held with Epworth, Mbare and Southerton structures in November 2013. The national meetings with grassroots structures are still continuing.
Notwithstanding that the 45 district structures expressed their faith in the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai, he still encouraged debate in the party on this issue which in most political parties is sacred and sacrosanct.
It is not every day that a leader in his second year of a five year term can encourage open debate and discussion about leadership renewal. But being the democrat he is, Morgan Tsvangirai encouraged debate despite owing his mandate to Congress and not to individuals, including individuals in the Standing Committee.
That several officials and leaders in the party, lately deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, have publicly spoken about the need for leadership renewal and their wish to lead the MDC speaks to thriving and evident democracy in the party.
It speaks to a leadership that does not censor or curtail ambition. It speaks to a party where robust debate and free speech are the currency.
It may have been impolitic to leak to the press confidential memoranda to the leader of the party.
But notwithstanding the leakage of the supposedly confidential memoranda, Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday addressed party activists at Harvest House and told them that no harm should visit Mangoma, guaranteeing his safety when he turns up at the party headquarters.
President Tsvangirai believes that democracy is our totem as a party and we must be seen to practice and live it internally before we demand it in the country.
When Engineer Mudzuri expressed his willingness to lead the party if elected by the people, the MDC President never stopped taking him for a game of golf as he has always done over the years.
The true media story should be about the democracy in the MDC and the true democratic credentials of its leader who allows robust debate on leadership renewal, even in the middle of his term.
To Africa and the world, Morgan Tsvangirai has sent a clear message about democracy and good leadership.
Morgan Tsvangirai has sent a loud message that power should have character and that robust debate is the cornerstone of democracy and true leadership.
Tsvangirai, with the mandate and support from millions of Zimbabweans, is amenable to difference and the expression of diverse opinions in the party he leads.
In other parties, violence and death will visit those who express a wish to lead and those who talk about succession and leadership renewal.
In the MDC, we have seen that ambition is not criminal and the party president will guarantee your safety even if you express an insatiable desire for his post.
We have learnt that here is no stifling of debate in the MDC. People are free to express their opinions and that is evidence of thriving democracy to which the party committed itself way back when it was formed in 1999.
We have learnt that anyone in the MDC, from a vendor in Kotwa to any member of the senior leadership of the party, has a legitimate right to aspire for any post, including the Presidency.
Over the past 15 years, the MDC has sought to create a society that is tolerant of divergent views; a society that celebrates difference and where it is not criminal to aspire for high office. Thank you, Morgan Tsvangirai, for those free lessons on democracy and true and honest leadership.