Tsvangirai and the MDC must decide of what to do with each other

via The Heart of the Matter: Both Tsvangirai and the MDC must decide of what to do with each other | SW Radio Africa  November 11, 2013 by Tanonoka Joseph Whande

Leaders in African politics still find it difficult, if not impossible, to voluntarily step down and hand over the party leadership to someone else.

Most African leaders look upon political parties as their personal properties and view resigning from such position as admitting that they have failed and that someone can do a better job than themselves.

And that is anathema to African leaders; they are never wrong.
They prefer to take the party with them to their graves and refuse to accept that, were they to step aside, a new leader may be able to perpetuate their legacy better than themselves.

But no, they would rather have the party die than have it revived and re-energised by someone else on their behalf.

The first thing an African leader thinks of is to seize total control of the party and make themselves the centre and reason for the party’s existence. This comes in handy when they write their wills, bequeathing a country to their children.

They become the conscience of the party and make rules as they go.
They are both the driver and conductor. If they fall sick, party business grinds to a halt until the man is back on his feet because no one would dare make any decisions as the leader lies there stricken.

They push for life presidency of both the party and the country and no decision is ever taken without them approving it first.

They view their deputies with suspicion and allow no debate on who would take over the leadership in the event of their demise. African vice presidents at both party and national level are the loneliest of people because they are more of messengers, performers like puppets on a string, than meaningful leaders in their own right.

Aspiring younger minds in political parties are oppressed and kept down as the leader surrounds himself with relatives and friends who do not question, advise or guide their benefactor since they would be too busy with their muzzles in the feeding troughs.

It is clear that the messy power struggles currently afflicting ZANU-PF and the MDC are a product of this disorganised and self-centered habit of turning political parties into personal properties. Even Welshman Ncube’s toy party is afflicted with the same disease…and is dying a slow but deserved death.

It is interesting to see the similarities among political parties in as far as what to do with a failed party leader is concerned.

Had ZANU-PF respected its own constitution from the beginning, they would never have found themselves in the mess they are in now. But because they let one man and his family personalise a national movement, both the party and the nation might soon find themselves burdened with a leader unwanted by the party’s own followers.

Lost in all this is the will of the people who are tossed around and forced to support unpopular leaders and positions under threats and blackmail, using food and conveniences as bait.

There is so much talk about Emerson Mnangagwa and Joyce Mujuru being so-called front runners in the race to succeed Mugabe but would these two be front runners were ZANU-PF followers afforded the freedom to choose without fear?

What exceptional thing did Mnangagwa and Mujuru ever do in the party? What did they ever achieve in cabinet where they have been permanent fixtures since independence? What qualifies them to succeed Mugabe?

Because of the reluctance to address and plan accordingly for succession, the nation is being offered useless underperformers who are touted as future leaders not because of what they have done in the past but because of leverage born out of other circumstances other than ability.
The constitution would have addressed this issue had it not been turned into a ‘dear Bob’ letter’. The role of the people was usurped.

Meanwhile, debate is still raging over Morgan Tsvangirai’s future; on whether or not he should step down from the presidency of the party.

Some want him to go while we are told some want him to stay. Just as we have always been told that Mugabe is the only one with grassroots support to win elections for ZANU-PF we are hearing the same about Tsvangirai.

A Midlands based MDC-T Member of Parliament said last week that many in the MDC’s top leadership at provincial level had allegedly told them that “if the party is to remain relevant, the founding president should remain at the helm of the party”.

“Tsvangirai should be left to decide what is good for the party…The man has grassroots support that is unparalleled by anybody in the combined opposition,” the MP said.

This is utter nonsense; this is what the people should be asked and let give their individual positions. Tsvangirai cannot decide what’s good for the party because the party has become his milking cow and livelihood.

Tsvangirai’s best thinking resulted in defeats three times and there can never be a national consensus demanding going into battle with the same leader for the fourth time. People are not stupid.

We have seen and heard it from ZANU-PF where a hint at change of leadership was turned into a treasonous issue and now those who are benefitting from Tsvangirai’s continued stay at the top are implying the same against those who want change to save the party and to hold on to their followers.

Just last month, Tendai Biti was forced to refute allegations that he wants to topple Tsvangirai in order to revive the party.

Even if he wants to succeed Tsvangirai what is wrong with that? Tsvangirai had three chances and failed so the party should be handed to younger more energetic leadership.
Why is seeking necessary change made to look dirty? Even Elias Mudzuri article about leadership renewal got him an MDC summons to explain himself.

So much time is being spent on investigating its own people, diverting attention from major obligations, among which is addressing the leadership issue.

All the warnings, threats, suspensions and investigations seem to stem from the same root of a party leadership that is not in step with its followers.

Roy Bennett. Ian Kay. Elias Mudzuri. Tendai Biti. The Councillors. The mayors.
Aaah, come on man! The party has to move on.

These are just not regular rank and file party followers; they are elected senior party officials so what the hell is going on?

Tsvangirai has been given a chance three times over but failed to overcome whatever electoral or political obstacles that were placed in front of him.

MDC supporters have given Tsvangirai space but he has simply failed to bring the expected results for which people suffered and died.

Tsvangirai should never allow the MDC a chance to debate whether or not he should stay on as leader. He should step aside on his own accord. He cannot risk dividing the viable party because it is not his personal entity.

The heart of the matter is that Tsvangirai’s continued stay as party leader is going to harm the party. He should take his bow and leave; not cause a split in the party that did so much for him because, honestly, there is no longer any justification for him to stay on as leader.

Tsvangirai must resign from the party presidency on his own accord and spare his political party the unenviable task of having to fight over his continued leadership because that is going to harm the party.

He tried once and he failed.
He tried the second time and he still failed.
We let him try the third time and he failed badly.
There is no fourth time; enough is enough.
Party leadership is neither a career nor a personal business but a service to the public.
I wouldn’t like to see the MDC being torn apart because of its own leader who happens to have more reasons to leave than to stay.
Rewarding failure is not encouragement. A popular team must score goals to maintain its popularity. Regardless of how popular a leader is, he must get his party into power.
You see, just like careers, soccer and business, leading a party does not reward failure.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday, November 11th, 2013.



  • comment-avatar
    Tsuro Magen'a 10 years ago

    Whande urikurasika papi….Tsvangirai is not a sitting National President who has refused to step down, neither has he failed to topple Mugabe. If Chunky the Mbare thug comes and robs you have you failed?

    Did Mandela, George Washington,Ghandi, Arafat, Nkomo, Martin L King, William Wilberforce, San Suu Kyi step down in their long struggle for justice.

    In any case leave that for MDC members to decide whom they prefer to lead them. If you are a member of MDC please throw your hat in the ring instead of “sandudzira vamwe uri kudiaspora.”

    Have you not heard Mugabe at every funeral asking MDC to remove Tsvangirai, asi watumwanaye here?

    • comment-avatar
      danisa tshawe 10 years ago

      For intelligence sake, just check how many presidents, ANC had before finally wrestling power from white supremecists. DA is growing well after Tony Leon passed power to Hellen Zille. The continued stay of Morgan can only benefit and strengthen Zanu.

  • comment-avatar
    puffydaddy 10 years ago

    Tanonoka shame on u.u are ignorant and stupid.u comparing Tsvangirai to Bob.we as the MDC we are in the struggle nw if you not aware and changing the party leader is not an option now.all the things u mentioned abt Tsvangirai, just go back to your Zanu Pf party and tell it to Bob.If u cant do that then go to hell.

  • comment-avatar

    Tsangirai is the commander of the army , we are in the middle of the war paving our way to a victory , we can not release him , we need him big time .

  • comment-avatar
    laazuk 10 years ago

    Spectators are the best game strategists but unfortunately they have never coached any team. What you are doing is exactly your actual job as a spectator and commentator or a fan. If the coach and the team are disappointing you find another team. Pane Dzimwe dzakaburwa manje manje dzanaMukoma lovemore. Dzinotungamirirwa naProfessor. Mamwe maProfessor are now hibanating. Remember that writing articles or publishing in renouned international journals is not leadership. The era in which we are is to demistifying academics without integrity. They are being exposed. Their relevance in politics is coming to nothing. There is academia, there is character, there is vision. Academics can implement a vision from a leader. They are not visionaries. They have the tools to implement a vision, the experience, the intellect. They come out with a strategy to implement the vision of a leader like Morgan Tsvangirai. Academics have no followers. Theirs are students, Publishers, readers, corporate world and idvidual buisness man were they engage on consultancy, training, policy formulation, reviewers and advisors. In this category we find Jonathan Moyo, Lovemore Madhuku, Tendai Biti, Arthur Mutambara, Welshman Ncube. A Lot of their time was invested in books, establishing their carriers as academics and professionals. These guys you cannot doubt them. They need a visionary, rally behind charismatic leadership like Morgan. Tsvangirai just needs a better team. It is sad that Prof Mukonoeshuro is late. The gap that he left in MDC-T is very difficult to fill.

    Academia is not charisma, its not organic connection with the grassroots, Academia is not endurance, academia is not wisdom, academia is not humility, academia is not longsuffering, academia is not sacrifice, acdemia is not forgivesness. I want advise the academic fraternity that it demands more than papers, publications and cosultancy to lead a nation or a political party.

    It seems vanhu vanoda kunzwira Tsvangirai tsitsi. He is equal to the Challenge. Wait and see. Prophets of doom are going to be proven wrong. What happened to Abraham Lincoln. He lost nine times pasina rigging but these are the Fathers of AMERICA. WAIT AND SEEE WHANDE. WHEN IN THE WILDERNESS THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL STARTED COMPLAING TO MOSES. SOME WERE EVEN THINKING OF EGYPT, the garlic, the spices. All of them perished in the wilderness. Those politicians who are not patient like my Brother Elias are going to perish politically. The Caleb and the JOSHUA CHARACTER ARE GOING TO ENJOY THE NEW ZIMBABWE. ALL THOSE WHO ARE COMPLAINING YOU LOSING RELEVANCE IN THE STRUGGLE. FOR THOSE IN MDC-T LEADERSHIP, DO NOT PUBLISH THE NAKEDNESS OF YOUR FATHER TSVANGIRAI. ITS A POLITICAL CASE. THE CLEVER ONES , GO WITH A BLANKET TO COVER AND MANTAIN THE DIGNITY OF THEIR FATHER. THOSE WHO ARE SO LOUD I PITY YOU. CHAFF YOSE IS GOING. MUCHATIONA TOTORA MAPOSITION.

    • comment-avatar
      Diego Zhaba 10 years ago

      @laazuk, Well said. What is his motive for calling Tsvangirai to resign? Where is his vested interest here? Does Tsvangirai’s resignation bring the so desired change? Is it strategic to change the leadership NOW? The shallowness in this analysis shows how empty heads can mislead people by making the most noise.

      These are elements planted around to distract our focus on rebuilding and take the impetus forward for a real change. It is those within the party to decide whether Morgan has became irrelevant or much more relevant now than before. Tanonoka’s resignation call is misplaced and defies the strategic vision MDC pursues.

      I did comment on the same lines sometime to say the game is best played by spectators watching from the terraces, yet they miss the contextual engagement in the real game situation. To wrap it all, let me say, leadership is either learned or is a natural endowment. Such is the leadership qualities in Morgan and it is at this critical time that he is most needed. We need a man who can stand up to challenge the regime, come hail come thunder and it is his fearlessness combined with a lot of attributes that he be given the chance to take us through the last hurdle.

      And so Tanonoka, we are no fools, we can make inferences too.

    • comment-avatar
      Diego Zhaba 10 years ago

      @laazuk – a good analysis baba. U will never walk alone.

    • comment-avatar
      Victory Imminent 10 years ago

      I strongly agree with Laazuk. Everyone “should not publish the nakedness of our father, Tsvangirai.”
      This is not the time for Academics to wrestle power from Tsvangirai. Their time will come. This is time for people in all walks of life to be united against the Election Riggers. Let us focuss on freeing our Country.

  • comment-avatar
    goodlife 10 years ago

    For a long time l didn’t want to contribute to this Morgan Must go debate because l am not a member of any political arty. But though neutral l am doubting the sinceerity of this Whande guy. The MDC NEC council though l am not their spokesman made it clear that they were not accepting the 31 july poll their arguement being that it was rigged. Wether it was Morgan who forced his NEC to cook this resoulution again l not prevy to that. Morgan has also clearly stated that who ever wants to take the leadership of his party as a card holding member again knows what to do inluding the likes of Mudziri. Roy, Kay and all those who are making noise about him he categaorically stated that it should not be done through the press. Of course papers are there to make business by selling their papers. Serious challengers were encouraged to follow the correct chanells and processes.So why rush to the press. Chokwadi kana ndimiwo ungafambe uchiudza nyika yese kuti musikana uyu ndiri kumunyenga zvino anga kuda here ukasamuudza make the right moves kwete kungotaura nemuro pasina action. Munokundwa namawindi anodevedzera Action mobva vatora action.

    • comment-avatar
      Diego Zhaba 10 years ago

      @goodlife – wagona

    • comment-avatar
      danisa tshawe 10 years ago

      The rigging story is nothing more than a story sold to fools for Morgans continued stay on power. Had he agreed that he lost fairly would you have defended him and the NECs stay on power? Had he agreed that he slept on duty, would you have defended him? What tangible evidence do you have that shows that elections were stolen? Has the current MDC fowarded any evidence that shows that elections were stolen. Zimbabwe is a nation of learned people. We must always ask questions and seek for answers. We cant be blind followers. Before i am labelled; let me state, l dont support any party or leader in Zim. I am seeking for a political home.

  • comment-avatar
    aston valentine 10 years ago

    vanhu vezanu ndivo vari kunyora vachiti tsvangirai aende the party must be worry of these people.

  • comment-avatar

    Laazuk ukataura seizvi padare toti nyaya yaperazve.Kunongosara mapenzi asingahwisisi achiti hapana zvatahwa.The revolution has reached peak, no surrender navo daddy Tsvangson.Asingadi ngaaende kunana Madhuku, Dabengwa ,Kisnot , naNcube

    • comment-avatar
      Diego Zhaba 10 years ago

      @Tino, sisonke Tino kana Mudzuri ngaende. Kufa kwemujoni kamba haivharwe. We will fight to the bitter end and for sure the revolution needs more commitment than ever. Aluta continua……

  • comment-avatar
    Thembani 10 years ago

    If you clap me once, accident, twice maybe you are lucky , 3times I know I cant fight you.Logically I will not go back for more. Tsvangirai azvamburwa 3 times What must he do besides to go?

    • comment-avatar
      Diego Zhaba 10 years ago

      @Thembani, how many times has Mugabe rigged the elections? Why didn’t he go when he was defeated in 2008? Never say never…….

  • comment-avatar

    Mr Whande is correct in his evaluation, however I believe he missed a crucial point in his argument for Morgan’s resignation. After every failure to to beat ZANU PF in elections there has been no Plan B or C of any significance to expose ZANU PF for stealing the result from MDC. Morgan is a wonderful man with a great heart, but he does not have the strategic capabilties to make hard decisions or take the right advice to get the result. He has been advised and informed of every defeat in the last three elections and has not done anything to mitigate against ZANU PF sinister strategies. He has not lead the MDC from the front, he has not been decisive and strong in his decision making. Morgan is what political scientists call a “peace time leader”. What the MDC needs is a “war time leader”. Just like Winston Churchill was a great leader during WW2 he was not a great peace time leader. Morgan would be a great “peace time leader”. He has had three chances to prove his ability to lead the MDC out of defeat and has failed. He is still a great man and has achieved much,of which we are all grateful, but he is not the right leader for the next battles we will face before we win Democracy in Zimbabwe. No matter how much we love the man, this is the truth and you all know it.

  • comment-avatar
    Dipura Masimbi 10 years ago

    Muna 2018, Zanu Pf inenge yava na Munangagwa as leader. Imi kana muchida isai Tsvangirai. This time arround, Tsvangirai anorohwa na Mnangagwa with both hands and legs tied. Good for Zanu Pf is Tsvangirai remains. That guff-prone ignorant fool running against Mnangagwa the lawyer and intelligence supremo!!! Another loss for the MDC guaranteed!!!

  • comment-avatar
    mugoni 10 years ago

    Mogiza for 2018

  • comment-avatar
    chimutengwende 10 years ago

    Moregain for 2018.

  • comment-avatar
    easily fooled 10 years ago

    Laazuk, I m impressed. The war is ragging on, fighters are in the trenches, and a voices comes from unauthentic sources, who is giving ideas to the sitting government, shouting “cease fire”, i m now in charge. How many people died when Bishop Abel Muzorewa of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia did the same.

    If he require an answer to his peace, yes MDC and Tsvagirai set down and agreed to the status quo, Whande. We as supporters of real change, are happy too.

    Thanks for the analysis but keep that good opinion peace to yourself.

  • comment-avatar
    Mike Nyathi 10 years ago

    Tsvangirai failed not three times but five. Don’t come with the nonsense that he would have won if the elections were not rigged. He was chosen to fight a DICTATORSHIP, not to fight democratic elections. And he has failed. If Zimbabweans want to continue to stand behind a loser, fine, but don’t cry when we’re still living under military rule in 2030. Wake up people.

  • comment-avatar
    Rwendo 10 years ago

    Whatever Whande’s true motives, this article hits the nail on the head. These arguments in support of MT’s continued leadership sound all too familiar. Just as “Mugabe has failed the nation and must go.” was successfully confused for many with: “No, this is a USA / EU inspired plot for regime change.” Or 3 elections sgo “Let him finish the land problem first then hand over” or 2 election ago “Let him win the election then choose a successor.”  So too now ‘Tsvangirai has failed to counter ZANU’s schemes, strategies and rigging.’ has become ‘No, this is a ZANU PF scheme to remove MT.’  Bottomline? It is all a reflection of the level of maturity of an electorate – I recall infuriating many now-anti Mugabe voters by suggesting in the early 90s that Mugabe must go. Va Whande, we may have to wait another 5 years and another election loss before the eyes of   some are opened. MT’s biggest mistake was agreeing as leader to participate in the GNU.  At that time I predicted it would take some 10 years (due to his popularity with the common man) before this disasterous decision would translate into any meaningful challenge to his leadership. Nearly the same time it took for Mugabe’s ruinous economic policies to translate into the formation of serious opposition (i.e. MDC formation). That would make it around 2018.  I would still stand by that prediction for now.

  • comment-avatar
    Cypriano 10 years ago

    Mdc should be careful with the leadership renewal issue. Suppose Tsvangirai is removed from the presidency in 2016,the new leader will have very little time to be introduced by Tsvangirai to the grassroots support.what it means is mdc will lose elections in 2018.That leader must have time to be supervised under Tsvangirai and get accepted by the mdc family. Under the circumstances mdc must hold an early congress and choose tsvangirai successor who will then be confirmed or rubber stamped in 2016 for 2018 elections. The new leader should have time to learn the mdc internal politics,strengthen the part structures in preparation for elections.Hezvoko!

  • comment-avatar

    you said it right that most African leaders want to continue leading even if they fail to win, times are changing fast you need to be in leadership for a certain period then leave even when the people still love you so that the organization moves on and where ever your advice is needed people will come to you.remember the shona saying ‘kufa kwemujoni kamba haivharwe’, what other truth do you want. leaders must not be idolized that is dangerous.some people do not realize when they should leave office

  • comment-avatar
    Bruce 10 years ago

    A true leader does not step down until its done.

  • comment-avatar
    Victory Imminent 10 years ago

    Tsvangirai is the best War-time-Leader. When we get our freedom from black oppressors, Peace-Time-Leaders can peacefully take over from Tsvangirai. It is good for our party that this debate is going on but we should finally resolve that Tsvangirai should continue leading us during this war time with black shameless oppressors.

  • comment-avatar
    msizeni silwelani 10 years ago

    Ours is a revolution, opinions matter the least. You lost it this time whande, your comparisons are a stark contrast.

    Mugabe has been at the helm of Zanu since its formation, how many years is that? He holds two sacred positions in the party, undebated, uncontested, you name it. Has murdered thousands to maintain his strangle hold on the party and country. Eloped with somebody else’s wife. Despite the election results of 2008, he refused to vacate office.

    Madhuku has been the leader of the NCA since i came to know the civic group and the professor and is still the leader even though the group has metamorphosised into a political party. Seems he is the only one with answers to this grouping.

    For Ncube, the man has never completed a term at the helm of his party. Why you mention him and his party as toy only serves to display your misguided featuristic writing.

    What do you know about a leader in Russia who completed two five year terms in Govt, two five year terms at the top of his political party before being re-appointed back into Govt in successive years.

    In West Africa, Senegal, i stand to be corrected here, Wade, not to be mistaken with Whande, spent 26 years as a leader of opposition politics, two five year terms as president of the country.

    Your article smells of the rot a political condom as they come.

  • comment-avatar
    Mwanawevhu 10 years ago

    It’s time the party moves on.This idea that anyone who thinks Tsvangirai has failed is a Zanu PF mole is just ridiculous. We support MDC because of it’s perceived democratic principles and anyone who says I am a Zanu PF mole and should be shot because I don’t agree with Tsvangirai is supporting a wrong party. Why not join Zanu Pf

  • comment-avatar
    Shumba Liverpool 10 years ago


  • comment-avatar
    Phillip Mupfeka 10 years ago

    I totally agree with Whande. Tsvangirai must step down with dignity despite his so-called popularity. He has made too many mistakes on the way. During the unity government he repeatedly said that he had a cordial working relationship with Mugabe despite other members of his party failing to extract any meaningful reforms to level the playing field for future elections. He went to an extent of campaigning against individual sanctions on ZANU PF members at the behest of Mugabe. Towards the 2008 elections he put the gay rights debate. This is not a popular topic in an African context. Such contentious topics can only be introduced when you are in power otherwise your enemies may use it against you like what ZANU PF did. As we approached the recent elections he was saddled with his past relationships with different women. His response was that a bachelor behaves like that when searching for a woman to marry. He surrounded himself with people like Nelson Chamisa, Lovemore Moyo, Obert Gutu and Douglas Mwonzora who benefit from his continued Presidency just like some ZANU PF members have done with Mugabe. Popular or not, it is high time African leaders learn to pass on the baton. No matter how fast and popular Usaine Bolt is, in a relay he must pass on that baton. The African mentality that someone is still popular with grassroots is a fertile ground for dictators like Mobutu, Museveni, Mugabe, Kamuzu Banda and many more. Two terms is enough for any leader.