Tsvangirai’s generation has failed us

via Tsvangirai’s generation has failed us January 14, 2014  by Takura Zhangazha NewsDay

Four years ago, at the advent of the inclusive government, I once had an animated conversation with a lawyer and a businessman. Both were avid MDC- T supporters. They were both old school opposition activists.

That is to say, they had been there when the first University of Zimbabwe demonstrations occurred against the one-party State in the late 1980s. They were also there when the second major opposition(after Zapu) to Zanu PF hegemony, the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) was formed.

And they have been pioneers of civil society movements that eventually led to the formation of the Movement of Democratic Change that was formed in 1999. Primarily through the Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (Zimrights), Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), or the the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).

These two comrades were our leaders and are of our former Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s generation. Both by history and by way of generational genesis. They were representatives of our intentions at leadership renewal and hope for a future in which we were or are still to have a part.

In the aforementioned conversation, I advised the comrades that politically their generation, given its leadership status, had to prove it was able to take us and the country forward.

Primarily because we had accepted and actively supported their leadership. But also because they had laid claim to leading Zimbabwe to a better democratic future. Given the fact that these two comrades were involved in the negotiation that led to the establishment of the global political agreement under Thabo Mbeki’s mediation, I advised them that they were in their last chance motel, as the Americans say.

They had a generational obligation to ensure that what they insisted they were leading us to was to become a reality. In the event of their failure, we would not be at fault to call time on them. As it turns out, they have failed both electorally and politically.

Tsvangirai and his peers are at fault in four respects. The first being their inability to navigate the post Cold War discourse on democratisation and free market economics organically. Instead of applying knowledge that they acquired by way of experience and education to local context, they chose the easier, but impolitic path of mimicry.

While they correctly chose to oppose repression in the form of Zanu PF, they erred in pursuing international recognition as a priority beyond local recognition. Where the agenda of the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe was organically social democratic, with time they changed it to a neo-liberal one. And it is for this that they continued to ascend the ladder of global recognition. They were given international awards, including nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, yet still they could not demonstrate commitment to a cause beyond their own personal interests.

Secondly, this particular generation of leaders has sought a simplistic understanding of our coutry’s political economy. Like the Bernard Chidzeros of the 1980s, they found solace in prescriptive solutions to our country’s economic woes without learning from the past or from the experiences of other countries in similar circumstances.

They were enamoured more to the Bretton Woods Institutions and external knowledge production systems before they understood their own local contexts. Hence they have been unable to effectively chart an organic economic way forward for the country. Instead, their opposition to Zanu PF major fault of disastrous economic management became more akin to representing global capital than representing the masses.

Thirdly, in their opposition to Zanu PF, they assumed electoral politics to be largely event and personality-based. It has never been about a specific national cause. It was all about President Robert Mugabe, his age and his repression without the articulation of clear democratic alternatives beyond the latter’s personality. Where they got an opportunity via the inclusive government to demonstrate their alternative, they fell back into the mode of rationalising the economy on behalf of global capital.

Where they undertook, in tandem with Zanu PF, a constitutional reform process, they sought their own personal and political imprints on the document to the extent that it has ended up being no more than an elitist and sharing of the spoils aggregation of State power. Even if Zanu PF now governs alone.

Fourthly and finally, Tsvangirai’s and his peers made the mistake of assuming messianic tendencies where and when it came to political leadership. Like their rivals in Zanu PF, they have presented themselves to the public as the only ones who can bring us to a political Canaan. They have held on to leadership positions even in the face of evident failure and have in some instances sold their souls merely to hold on to positions within the opposition movement. In this, they have come to mimic Zanu PF and have unfortunately affected the ability of subsequent generations to learn how to lead.

Even after their Waterloo on July 31 2013, they refuse to be judged on the basis of their failures and are hoping for a miracle to resurrect them politically.

As it is, Tsvangirai’s generation has refused to demonstrate an iota of contrition for their failures. While they taught us how to oppose repression, they have failed to lift us out of it. Indeed, they were pioneers in bravely opposing the dictatorial hegemony that is Zanu PF, but even pioneers pass on the baton stick. It is no longer enough to claim to be a founding member of a cause. It is the cause not the personality that must carry on.



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    mokone 9 years ago

    It is true ,MDC has sold the struggle because of their personality.Instead of revamping the leadership,they are obsessed with power

    MDC is dead,it won’t rise again

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    Takura Zhangazha sometimes I think that Zimbabwean journalist are too educated to ever appeal to the people that they want to communicate with. When writing an article they used high English words that they look up in the dictionary and start spewing these hoping that their readers will say “look how so and so is educated” Zimbabwe politics are still in their infantcy. What MDC has brought to the table is opposition. They might have not got it 100% right but Zimbabwe will never be the same again. Change will come. It will come because there are people speaking up. There are some even within Zanu that recognize this. I obviously enjoy reading these articles but let me assure you that opposition politicians will be better off for this experience of the inclusive Government.

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      Sonofngwazi 9 years ago


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    Ephrain Gumbo 9 years ago

    As a former ZANU PF veteran I realized right from the beginning that the MDC were incapable of unseating ZANU PF. Full of impressive words but totally lacking in courage, honesty, sincerity or any real commitment to such an extent it was laughable. Hiw pliable and easy to bend and manipulate these people are, like soft putty! These are not the sort of people we need to run our country. We need strong and intelligent leaders, people who are genuinely committed to serving this nation’s best interests and not self enrichment as we are witnessing. Admittedly our own party needs a big shake up and the greedy and corrupt purged from our ranks – we need to regain that respect we once had and remain committed to our worthy cause.

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    tsuro magena 9 years ago

    It is so easy criticize that someone has failed to unseat Gaddafi/Amin while he sits in an air conditioned house.

    You sound brilliant, why not start your own party with those brilliant ideas and we will “definitely” join you, not this Tsvangson who has “allowed” Chunky to rob him while we watch.

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      Edison Mapuranga 9 years ago

      This is a brilliant article, well expressed – please dont get emotional, present your facts in a civilised manner – Mr MDC supporter!
      This is reality – MDC died so many times, however, can never be ressurrected!
      Its death paves way for a better opposition – not the blind professor Welshman Ncube either. May their souls R.I.P

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      Sonofngwazi 9 years ago


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    Nyepudzayi 9 years ago

    I salute Morgan Tsvangirayi and other MDC leaders who stood up for this brutal regime. How many of us including the writer are prepared to go through what Morgan .Chamisa and other MDC members who have lost there lives. He might be educated or not ,but he was fighting for change for all Zimbabweans. Mugabe what has he done with all his degrees? His performance is worse than a man from the street. One would expect him to understand what the law is, global economics and human rights. Before we start pointing fingers we need to be united as opposition parties to topple this evil regime.Good governance is all what is needed if we put our heads together . Change is going to come let’s not give up Zimbabweans .

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    Devuli 9 years ago

    That Tsvangirai has failed is not in dispute as much as it is not in dispute that he tried his best. As we now know, his best was not good enough so the guy should now step aside and allow a new generation of leaders to come on board. If he stays put, soon, he will be left with just a few in his camp. Don’t forget that ZUNDE is beckoning!!! The world is full of options.

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      Tsuro Magen'a 9 years ago

      At this stage I do not think it’s wise to start reformulating the cocktail to disempower Zanu.

      Remember we had ZAPU, ZUM, Forum, ZUD and many others which never lasted a year…..all were infiltrated and destroyed. Remember the first to join a new formation and occupy the political space are CIOs.

      I think MDC has survived the initial CIO onslaught. Lets be patient with them.

      Remember those who eventual make it would have had years and years of struggle,imprisonment and harassment….ANC is good example.

      Zunde Project, noble it maybe may still suffer the same fate as it struggles to get recognition or maybe it is actual a ZANU project.

      What we need now is continued support for MDC, despite its obvious shortfalls. Remember the Roman Empire was eventually brought down by a group of unlearned barbarians

      I say this not as a member of MDC but as an ordinary Zimbabwean looking for an escape from this worse than Ian Smith RF regime.

      A struggle which constantly metamorphises(sp)its outlook will forever be in constant struggle. It will take another 7 years for new block to market its agenda.

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    Danza wa Masunungure 9 years ago

    In my view 2016 is too far. Extraordinary Congres for leadership renewal now so as to have enough time to restrategise. As it is, as a party we are stil where we were end of 2012. Hw could we sleep & have a cake stolen from the same table we share???

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    We have been failed by no other than ZPF. They have held the reins of power by hook and by crook for 34 years. The finger points to them.

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      Edison Mapuranga 9 years ago

      This is the same mistake that the MDC made and you are repeating the same!
      Stop talking about how ZPF destroyed the economy, rather, talk about your own alternatives. FULLSTOP!

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    mucha 9 years ago

    Another ‘TSVANGIRAI-MUST-GO’ mantra, this time coming from youthful generation.

    It’s a vicious cycle.

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    Mike Nyathi 9 years ago

    Sure, Tsvangirai and the MDC must go. It’s true that his generation has failed us. However your analysis about the MDC appealing more to outsiders is rubbish man. The problem is that they failed to come up with a viable plan for removing a dictator and then they got into bed with him. They never had a strategy for getting power and now they are morally compromised.

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      Mike I don’t see why you say the MDC must go. The MDC are a registered party that have won seats in parliament. There is no harm in criticizing or asking for change within the MDC party that is assuming you support them. If you don’t then leave them as they are so that if they are the failures you say they are it will benefit the party you support. Alternatively form your own party, start campaigning and we will hear what you have to say. You say they must go as if they are a ruling party. They are not so where must they go to? If they take your advice then we turn into a one party state because at the moment there is no other party that has had any sort of an impact. While people keep on talking about how these guys failed they conveniently fail to mention that the two opposition party’s Ministers were blocked at every turn they tried to effect any changes during their time in Government.

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      Edison Mapuranga 9 years ago

      MDC leadership and its loyalists was not aware that Mugabe was a brutal dictator. Thats why to them the Unity Government was ‘a new democratic dispensation’. They were caught napping on a Zanu PF territory!…….and booted out!
      Biti bought a few properties as an investment since he is now ‘retrenched!’.

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    Very shallow analysis! The current struggle to free Zimbabwe is not about Morgan Tsvangirai per se! Its about how the people of Zimbabwe are being continuously dribbled by ZPF to end end up with an illegitimate governments since the 1990s.When elections are stolen, they are not being stolen from Morgan but the people of Zimbabwe! Be that as it may, when we talk about living heroes for the proper emancipation of Zimbabwe, there are few who can compare to Morgan Tsvangirai – he and his colleagues have suffered raw brutality at the hands of ZPF’s machinery of physical and psychological torture for years! I agree with the sentiment that some of us are just armchair critics who pontificate over the so-called failures of brave men of action such as Morgan while taking refuge in the comfort of air-conditioned offices. How many of the so-called analysts will go out in the street today if called for a nation-wide protest over the stolen election? How many excuses will we here for not participating? My point is – in our critiques,let us be fair on Morgan and other living heroes of the current struggle for Zimbabwe!

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      Edison Mapuranga 9 years ago

      We are talking about leadership qualities and a rare opportunity that was lost in pursuit of democracy and liberalisation.

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      Veduwee 9 years ago

      Lets not talk about “suffering” in relation to the opposition politicians of the 1990s. No matter how “bad” the Second Chimurenga veterans may have turned out now,in our eyes, we should not trivialise their suffering and sacrifices. Comparisons such as these end up diverting attention from otherwise sound arguments.

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    The Rover 9 years ago

    Article 100% correct and Mike’s comment 100% agree….3 strikes and you are out are the rules…but not here!!!!

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      The Rover you are a bit lost. You are ignoring the fact that these guys were not allowed to perform when in office. They tried to do things but were block by Zanu pf at every turn. You just agree with Mike and you talk about 3 strikes. That is A term used in some judiciary systems that if a person is convicted 3 times a certain sentence will apply. It has nothing to do with political partys and thier existance. How come you don’t talk about the six strikes that Zanu has had with the economy.Mafirakureva I totally agree with you.

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    @Ephraim Gumbo..I agree with you that the opposition has had its fair share of problems but I think we have achieved a lot more than we lost by having them around as viable opposition. movement.

    If we can agree that ruling a country is a contnous process, which will meet hurdles and challenges. Establsinging a demoncracy is a process of continous refinesment and improvement, which should gain the status of a culture. Its easier to keep compliance to a culture in check than to measure rulership in general.

    Lest agree that we have to start somewhere and move forward. It might mean stepping back a bit or taking a rest, but sight of the big picture we must keep, lest we expend our energies on pulling each other down.

    @Mike Nyathi…I think its wrong to refer to MDC or PF or any tother entity as having failed at anything. Whis is they? The ordinary Zimbabwe electorate make these entities by supporting them and voting them into power. When the MDC loses elections, is it the MDC that lost or its supporters?

    In Zimbabwe its one thing winning an election and totally another getting the power as winners. If power transfer followed all elections in Zimbabwe, the late Twoboy and Justice Dumbuchena would have had their time at Munhumutapa.

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    Mixed Race 9 years ago

    This article has valid facts except that some of his points are missed out by the majority due to the use of unnecessary big words instead of simple English words.We should now forget about the past and find new ways of solving our current problems but we can do this if those who have tried and failed step aside to allow for new mindsets to step in with new ideas.This is what I call an approach with commonsense and wisdom,we have to start afresh with new set goals not the ones which were cleverly outwitted by the opponent.People must admit that the opponent was clever and manipulated the financially weak MDC leadership who naively believed everything was on their side.We tried to warn some of those we know but they kept on saying they are on the top of the situation.You pay heavily in life for your complacency.

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    Where must the MDC go to. ZPF must go! The MDC must admit their mistakes, get up and rise to their mandate but they cannot do that on their own. As someone has already said this is about Zimbabwe. Every Zimbabwean had those elections stolen from them. let us encourage one another and spur each other on to a better future. I don’t think any one of us had the answer to all things but God does. ZPF are not invincible. Many mighty empires have fallen and it is always their evil that brings them down. Let us persevere for good and trust in the Lord and stand up and be counted!

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    Chisipite 9 years ago

    As with every post-colonial African government, bar one, politics is being based on persons, rather than people. From the government point of view it about a singularly powerful person, leading a political party. The command can control approach, do as I say not as I do. From the peoples view it is about voting for a person and not what the political party represent. The president is a good man, I will follow him. In every single instance, human evolution has proved this to be the wrong way to go. Kings, Queens, Tsars, Dictators, get deposed or fail in some way. Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai did and are doing it, it’s a case of vote for me, because I can make it better for you. I will change the bad and make it good. How wrong can you get. Now if it was me seeking election instead of Tsvangirai I would be saying, people, vote for your selves, vote for the for the ability to choose, vote for the ability to help yourselves, vote for I can make it better for myself. If people feel that the best they want is to be fed and watered by someone else, be reliant on them, then vote that way, for the person who promises that they will do it. If the people feel that the best they want is to feed and water themselves, self-reliance, then vote that way. The lazy people will vote the former, and the morally corrupt will take advantage. Vote for the latter and it means hard work and having to accept blame if it goes wrong. Above all people need to be educated to understand that no change, means no change.

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    kiddnile 9 years ago

    The critcs miss a major point. It’s not about Tsvangirai .It’s about the people of Zimbabwe. The election was stolen from them by RGM & his cabal of criminals. Everybody has a role to play & not MT only.

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    Vana Takura-so you think this what will make you succeed in Politics–attacking Tsvangirai and not Mugabe!!!!!!!I have worked with you before and I have come to know that you are the most disorganised, aspiring politician.Anyway welcome to real politics and good luck.

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    Stewart 9 years ago

    I have always thought that the saying is ‘last chance saloon’ but then I am clearly not as brilliant as this dude

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    Boorangoma 9 years ago

    Ana mhata veku diaspora chenyu kusasa chete. Firstly you can not sacrifice even ka trip kekusvikovhota. You wait for those in zimbabwe to fight the fight ..esp MDC ..They are in the trenches imi muri busy kupisika chembere .. Mafinhwa neduzv rechembere mave kudaidzira kuti Morgiza must Go. You ran weay from the struggle . You are deserters of the current struggle. You believe kuti Tsvangirai alone should deliver freedom on a silver platter to zimbabweans. ? We , the current generation have dismally failed Tsvangirai, Biti etc. We are timid goats who are afraid even to register to vote. We know the lection was stollen but vana Takura wanted Tsavngirai to demonstrate or causemayhem alone . Zhangazha is just a trigger happy raw Analyst tryn to try his luck in a dead Madhuku’s horse party.. Remember Welshman thought he was educated and thought he owned Matebeleland votes.. From the 31st July he has been staying in a barn at his farm.. He hates politics now.. Saka pindai mu ground mushe vana Zhangazha then moona kuti kuwana 4 votes munenge marwisa..Bvunzai Dabengwa.

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    At the time when the Unity accord came to be ,it effectively turn Zimbabwe into a one Party State. The MDC came to be because the rulers were able to do as they pleased in Parliament and laws could be changed as they pleased. Some people like Morgan Tswangirai the then leader of the ZCTU, the late Gibson Sibanda the once leader of ZARU (The Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railwaymans Union) and others that we all know took the bull by the horns and started challenging some of Governments bad decisions. They were getting detained for arranging demos and such. The President challenged them to form a Political party which they eventually did. The MDC might never rule this country. I do not know. What I do know is that the MDC will be remembered as the party that challenged the might of Zanu Pf and shook them to their roots. They brought opposition to the Zimbabwe Political setup.

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    easily fooled 9 years ago

    I agree 100% that the writer is agree because the change has taken so long. He wanted it to be automatic that Chamisa, Morgan and Biti be beaten in the streets for him to be liberated. I am only 41 and obviously I was very young to remember the participants in the liberation. But thank God, my 80 year old mum is still “as fit as fiddle”. She takes time to narrate how the liberation struggle against smith was a combine effort of every Zimbabwean “except a few discedents”. I remember my youngest auntie who was so beautiful, was forced to the Zanla base around Mutungagore in Mukamba, Nyazura, under the pretence of cooking for vana mukoma. They raped her, abused her and eventually committed suicide or was killed. These vanamukomas had guns, i mean real guns.

    It took them over 13 years of fighting, with everyone’s support both willingly and coherced. If the MDC had a chance to go the gun route it would have taken them less than 3 years to take over. Mugabe, HE is more deadly to killing his own people than Ian Smith. Using such a bench mark, a part with no government funding, with no weapons, against draconian laws and oppressive security, I say they did well. Now we know the bad things Zanu did, what people thing although they cant do much. They however know how to handle them, keeping money under their pillows, grow tobacco instead of maize, fill the sewage piples with litter ensure non of the dictactor’s economic policies works out. MDC is a victor than ZPF. Wait and see if the country will be governable come 2016 assuming no inclusive government.

    Perhaps Takura’s heading should be “MDC induced resistance renders Zim ungovernable by ZPF”

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    Chivadye 9 years ago

    Varume.handifunge kuti anyone anotaura kuti president Tsvangirai must step down dzirimo mumusoro ini.this ‘Tsvangirai must tseo down ‘ must be coming from sick minded people who are not in Zimbabwe right now.Talk no evil about this man because this man has done a lot to us those in Zumbabwe right now.Chinoenda magetsi nemvura kwete Tsvangirai.He sacrificed his life for us and his efforts are still hampered even right now and you have the guts to say he must go.Garai kwamuri ikoko makanyarara because you are cowards munoda zvakanaka zvamusingazivi kuti zvabva nepi.May the Almighty be with The President Mr Richard Morgan Tsvangirai.