Why Tsvangirai must go now


The Movement for Democratic Change was supposed to be a model for democracy in Zimbabwe. The party leader would serve only two terms and step down regardless of how popular he was.

Ten years was long enough for someone to lead. A situation where one person remained at the helm of the party for 20 years- as Mugabe had within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front at the time of the formation of the MDC- was unacceptable.

It was well and good, on paper. But this thinking was all centred on the assumption that the MDC would form the next government in 2000.

It failed. Two years later, it failed again. The situation got worse in 2005. The party missed its chance in 2008, and the blow came in 2013.

Tsvangirai had already overstayed by the time the party went to the polls last year. The party had, however, allowed him to extend his term because it believed he was the only one who could challenge Mugabe.

But he lost. Now knives are out for Tsvangirai. He has to go. Now, and not in 2016.

People might ask: Why now when Tsvangirai still has two more years in office? The answer is simple. Time!

The next elections are in 2018 and there is very little time for a new leader to reorganise the party, assert himself or herself and then campaign if the MDC waits until 2016 for a change of leadership.

With ZANU-PF in power and with its more than two-thirds majority, it could call elections any time in 2018.

Zimbabwe has traditionally held its elections in March and if the MDC holds its congress in May 2016, this will be less than 24 months before the next elections.

It is that simple, the party needs to prepare.

People can cry about rule of law, democracy, but they have to be practical. Tsvangirai has to give way.

The only problem is that Tsvangirai’s lieutenants and the party backers have not been diplomatic about it.

What they have done so far shows lack of respect for the man that has held the party together and has gone through so much. Tsvangirai is a man. He could not be undressed in public the way his lieutenants went about it.

But the fact remains. He has to give way if the MDC wishes to remain relevant in Zimbabwe unless the party intends to amend its constitution again to allow him to contest. If that is the thinking, then the party should hold its congress now and put the matter to rest.

Otherwise, Tsvangirai’s lieutenants should put their tails between their legs and apologise and then find a diplomatic way of getting him to step down. Now. The way things are going, the squabbles could continue until the next elections and the party would end up with fewer than the 49 seats it currently has.

And ZANU-PF would be ululating all the way.


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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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