New beginning


The sight of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai seated at the same podium with President Robert Mugabe at the burial of former defence forces chief Vitalis Zvinavashe at the national Heroes’ Acre on Saturday was mollifying.

It said a lot. Here was a man who should have been mourning his wife who had been buried three days before at his rural home in Buhera, attending a state funeral in honour of someone who had bluntly told him that he would never salute him. How more reconciliatory could one expected to be?

This was a typical example of humility. It showed how Tsvangirai has transformed. A lot of people were very sceptical when he was sworn in as Prime Minister on February 11. They thought that he was wasting his time because the all-inclusive government would never work. Tsvangirai has proved otherwise.

While people are still nit-picking at petty issues such as whether so-and-so has saluted him or not, Tsvangirai has slowly but confidently graduated from leader of the opposition to leader of the nation.

He is slowly but confidently demonstrating that he is the Prime Minister of the country with the interests of all Zimbabweans and not just those of Movement for Democratic Change supporters who voted him into office- a thing that is obviously not going well with some of his supporters as they are secretly entertaining thoughts that it is now their turn to enjoy the same privileges that were enjoyed by ZANU-PF supporters when that party was in full control.

He is slowly but confidently brushing aside petty issues that, if he paid any attention to them, can derail his primary mission, that of rebuilding the country.

Things are changing, slowly, but surely. All the signs are there for those who want to see. Just like ZANU-PF used to brag that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again, under Tsvangirai it is increasingly becoming clearer that Zimbabwe will never be the same again.

The worst is over. The country has been given a new beginning. But like in biblical times when God asked Moses to lead the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, the land of milk and honey, there were cry-babies who demanded that he should take them back to Egypt whenever they encountered the slightest problem.

Zimbabweans are the same. They are quick to shout: “We told you this would never work. You can never trust ZANU-PF” whenever there is a slight hitch. But Tsvangirai has remained steadfast.

He demonstrated that nothing would derail the all inclusive government when he became the first person to assure the nation that the death of his wife, Susan, was an accident when everyone else thought it was otherwise. This was a sign of political maturity. Tsvangirai was acting like a national leader at a time when he should have been behaving like a bereaved husband. He was simply uniting the nation.

But Tsvangirai has a big task ahead of him. He may have the vision, the zeal and the determination to make sure that the all inclusive government works and the country turns around, but there are too many vultures around him who do not want to see the new government working.

People from ZANU-PF are losing their privileged position. Benefits they could get at the click of a finger are gone. Members of his own party will be losing out too. They are now part of the government. They can no longer enjoy the benefits that were dished out to them by donors. Civic leaders will be affected too. Some organisations are likely to become irrelevant if the new government works. Ordinary people, especially those who were making money from practically nothing, have also lost.

All these people deep down do not want change. They might be a minority, but they make the most noise because they have access to either the local or international media which itself is finding it difficult to accept change.

The sad thing is that the majority are easily influenced by this minority, yet Tsvangirai is sacrificing everything for the benefit of the majority.

What will it take for them to see the light and realise that change is here for good and for their benefit?

Tsvangirai has won the first battle. His humility seems to have taken the venom out of President Robert Mugabe. The media should be next. The media badly needs a new beginning so that it can take the people along with the new government and the new spirit that Tsvangirai is trying to inculcate.

The electronic media is not reflecting the new Zimbabwe. They are still living in the past. The independent media has not realised that there is no opposition party any longer. They are moaning the past when stories from the opposition were their preserve. The state media is still seeing ZANU-PF written all over. They have not realised the shift of power.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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