Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai may have hanged himself during his testimony in the treason trial in which he is accused of having plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe prior to the 2002 Presidential elections.
Mugabe won the disputed elections which the international community said were not free and fair.
The MDC, which claims that the elections were rigged, is challenging the poll results in court.
Though Tsvangirai denied plotting to assassinate Mugabe, claiming that Mugabe was his hero, his testimony has torn his credibility to shreds.
He admitted that he held several meetings with Canadian political consultant Ari-Ben Menashe because he had promised the MDC US political and financial support, though a British firm, BMSG, was already handling the party’s affairs.
“We hired Dickens and Madison because we were convinced that unlike BMSG, it had intimate knowledge of the Zimbabwean political scene and was widely known in Canada and the United States,” he was quoted as saying.
He even admitted: “I discussed the principle of Mugabe going not the method.”
Analysts are querying why, as party president, he was involved in the negotiations as this could have been done by his lieutenants who could easily have taken the rap.
Tsvangirai could also not explain why he attended a meeting at which a CIA official had been invited and claimed not to know the role of the CIA. The CIA has tried for years to infiltrate the labour movement which he once headed and its representative was expelled from the country for his clandestine activities.
“This is filthy and like someone who has fallen into shit, you can’t expect to come out smelling like a rose,” one observer said.
Observers say it is now immaterial whether Tsvangirai is convicted or acquitted. He is finished either way. If convicted he can no longer stand for public office as the law forbids anyone with a conviction of six months or more from standing for public office.
If acquitted, he will be shunned by his lieutenants because he will be an embarrassment and a liability to the party.
One observer noted last year: “People will start asking themselves whether they want a leader who at times runs out of ideas. The world admires sharp minds. Whether people like Mugabe or not, Tsvangirai is no match for Mugabe and people are bound to compare the two most of the time. When Ben-Menashe said the people of Zimbabwe did not deserve this fool, this had nothing to do with education. It was simply a question of being streetwise.”
Whispers say Tsvangirai may have made so many blunders during his cross-examination because his mind was not focused on the trial. He was probably worried about something much bigger, something that could to tear the MDC to shreds, and throw several top MDC officials into the political scrap heap.
Tsvangairai’s trial resumes on February 11, when the defence will re-examine him.