Who can fit Tsvangirai’s shoes?

via Who can fit Tsvangirai’s shoes? The Standard by Caiphas Chimhete September 22, 2013

THE MDC-T will implode should it push out its leader, former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai because there is no one charismatic enough in the party at the moment to rally disgruntled supporters, analysts have said.

Calls for Tsvangirai to step down have been getting louder by the day after July 31, when the party suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Zanu PF.

But Tsvangirai, who has maintained that the elections were stolen, said he would continue to lead the movement until the party’s elective congress in 2016.

But analysts said although the MDC-T had numerous academics, experts and orators within its ranks, most of them lacked the political charisma needed to appeal to ordinary people to support the party.

Leading the pack of those touted to replace Tsvangirai are party secretary-general Tendai Biti and national organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa.

Other possible contenders are former deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, secretary for transport and former political commissar, Elias Mudzuri, former Minister of Economic Planning, Tapiwa Mashakada and former Minister of Energy and Power Development, Elton Mangoma.

Political commentator and author, Solomon Mwapangidza said there was a possibility that the MDC-T could disintegrate with the departure of Tsvangirai.

He argues that the MDC-T leader has been able to draw a huge following because he was charismatic, a character that lacked among most senior members of the party.

“The sole reason he has remained at the helm is his charisma. Charisma, by its very nature, does not always conform to logic,” said Mwapangidza. “Charismatic leadership is not based on academic achievements or by moral high standing. A charismatic leader is catapulted to prominence by a grand act that he performs that endears him to the masses.”

In the case of Tsvangirai, said Mwapangidza, the act was the calling of mass demonstrations in 1987/8 during his days as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general.

University of Zimbabwe politi-cal analyst, Shakespeare Hama-uswa said Biti had a better chance of succeeding Tsvangirai if he stopped fighting the MDC-T leader to gain political power.

He said Biti lacked the popularity that Tsvangirai enjoys with the grassroots and he alienated himself from the workers, who are the backbone of the MDC-T, when he was Finance minister. Apart from that, said Hamauswa, Biti was “too radical” and can only appeal to the middle class and not ordinary Zimbabweans.

“He needs to calm down and stop being too radical. He does not need to fight Tsvangirai if he needs to gain political power, instead he must use him,” said Hamauswa. “If they fight Tsvangirai, they [Biti and Tsvangirai] will go down into the political grave together. Biti must be patient.”

On Chamisa, Hamauswa said, the former minister of Information, Communication and Technology, was “very intelligent but still immature” to lead a revolution that can unseat President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.

“He [Chamisa] is clever but not yet politically mature,” he said. “He needs a bit of time.”

Some analysts said Mudzuri had the qualities to take over from Tsvangirai, as he was politically mature and was not impulsive when dealing with sensitive matters.

His only disadvantage, they said, was that he was too “junior” on the party’s hierarchy and it would be difficult to manoeuvre his way up.

On Khupe, Mwapangidza said: “Zimbabwe is not yet ready for a female opposition leader. The political terrain is rough.”

Political analyst, Phillip Pasirayi said while there was need for renewal in the MDC-T, it must not target Tsvangirai, as he was still popular among the grassroots.

He said instead of attacking each other, the MDC-T must articulate pro-poor policies that demonstrates that they are a viable alternative to Zanu PF.

“It is not strategic at this point for Tsvangirai to step down as MDC president,” he said. “The majority of the MDC supporters particularly at grassroots level still believe that Tsvangirai is the man who will take them to the Promised Land.”

In the event that Tsvangirai steps down or is forced out, said Pasirayi, Biti or Chamisa would be the right candidates to lead the party.

Pasirayi believes that those who were pushing for Tsvangirai’s ouster would soon be purged. He however said any careless handling of the MDC-T internal fighting could cause further fragmentation and the collapse of the party.

“Any careless response on these divisions affecting the MDC-T will cause further fragmentation, and we might end up with no party to talk about,” he said.

It is feared that MDC-T will follow several other political parties that went into oblivion after failing to unseat Mugabe and Zanu PF from power since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.

These include the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM), the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) and the Forum Party of Zimbabwe.

The MDC-T has at least had three electoral attempts to remove Mugabe, unlike other political parties before it that faltered after just one shot.



  • comment-avatar
    Ed Mrehwa 9 years ago

    I totally reject your arguments above Mr Chimhete. If others are not given the chance, then how are we ever going to know wheather they are good or not. With due respect to Morgan, surely if we attempt to get his exact replica at the helm then we will get the same result. We cannot contunue to cry wolf. ” If we do what we always done, we will always get what we got”. Obviously if Morgan’s strength is only the Charisma, then it definately has failed on three occassions, maybe the MDC need somebody with the missing “X” factor to take the party to the next level. Lets give others the opportunity to shine.

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    Charisma alone will not work. He has tried but was beaten three times. Why not hand over the leadership. Why hold on to power when he can not deliver? Enough is enough. Tsvangirai pack your bags and go Buhera peacefully. If you dont then you will be removed violently.

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      Chitova weGona 9 years ago

      Was he voting alone? You shld have campaigned for him? If the people of Zim still want him to continue Why not? Do not rush to swallow before u chew! You will be choked! He has to steady the ship before a new captain takes over. All those who are clamouring for his ouster must go and drown themselves in the Zambezi river. He still got the support of the people. Save musaenda!

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    Guvnor 9 years ago

    Charisma would work if zanu muppets were amenable to being charmed out of power. Other qualities such as a bold decisive dynamic leadership style which would galvanise the people to reach the promised land are needed.

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      Well spoken Guvnor. Another 5 years of zanu muppetry will cement Chinese colonialism. It cannot be allowed to happen

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    What a load of rubbish. The party is much bigger than Tsvangirai. If anything, the reason for failure is because some put the brand “Tsvangirai” above the party. if the MDC-T was a commercial company, Tsvangirai would have been removed a long time ago for none performance. This latest failure is disastrous.

    There are plenty of young leaders coming through the ranks of MDC-T and they need to step forward now.

    Chamisa has lost the plot. He is nowhere near good enough to lead the party. His best path is to become a preacher, not a politician.

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    fatso 9 years ago

    there is much more important to politics than just charisma. The mdc failed to claim the victory in 2008 because Tsvangirai with his charism couldn’t stand for the win. that was betrayal of the voters. seing replaced as a leader doesn’t mean one can’t use his taent

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    fatso 9 years ago

    Being replaced as a leader doesn’t mean one can’t use his talents for the success of the party. This is one mistake we often make in our political policies; to think that when one hands over power he is no longer party material. Tsvangirai can still use his charisma as a member of the party not as the leader.

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    Dzoromuvhu 9 years ago

    For now, both Chamisa and Biti are aware of the importance of More-gain. They ll not try it in the MDC. Its normal for parties in the trenches to keep their leaders till they achieve their goals. More-gain did not loose, MDC lost thru rigging, whc makes them more realistic in future elections than removing More-gain. He is the backbone of MDC, many ZPF would want him gone, not now, we need consolidated MDC, ZPF is soon collapsing into 3 with the death of mdhara in the near future, a consolidated MDC will be a wayforward and the solution

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    People can talk about leadership change but to tell you the truth, no one will manage to attract star 30000 ralles like Tsvangirai.Musanyeperana kuti democracy democracy.Even ZANU PF yakati Mugabe haabvi coz whoever contests with Tsvangirai is whitewashed.Even Mugabe was beaten clean 2 times .Only to use force to say I wont go.SADC could not tell Mugabe kuti warohwa ibva beacause to them he is a father.Remember Mugabe is a father to Mbeki, because Govan Mbeki was a revolutionary mate to Mugabe.The same as Zuma,who stayed for some time in Byo during Apatheid.Kgalema Mothlante stayed in highfields.So the SA leaders say father to Bob that’s why they are reluctant to see the demise of Bob.
    Im worried Zim peole think they are so educated but they cant see the logic.These armchair politics will never stand a day against ZANU PF brutality.Tsvangirai, Chamisa ,Biti were always beaten.Madhuku was also beaten but nhasi avepi?Singing the ZANU TUNE.And I wonder where you put your brains when you say Morgan was beaten 3 times, when? If you are so clever why didn’t you tell him of the impending massive rigging which even schocked diehards ZANU PF members.HATIDI MA WISE AFTER EVENTS PEOPLE.be wise before the event and tell your widom to the people.Therefore its fatal to let Morgan go

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      Ed Mrehwa 9 years ago

      We must always learn from our experiences i.e you ought to be wiser after the events, remember the benefits of hind site or ” regazvipore akabva mukutsva” if you look at ZANU before 1980, they went through various leaders during that time & for various reasons but they still achieved their goal of independence. Therefore sir kufa kweMuJoni Kamba haivharwe. After all when MDC was formed the founders agreed on a two term limit for all leadership positions, so now we a creating an indvidual who is greater than the party. There are lot of people who made a lot of sacrifes at various stages of this movement & some paid the ultimate price with their lives, now you are talking about “kurohwa” as if that is supposed to be a badge that qualifies people for leadership. Morgan will always be a respected & useful senior , founder & father figure for MDC but lets give others the opportunity to prove themselves.

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      Chitova weGona 9 years ago

      Thank you Tino. Those who criticize Tsvangirai can never have the courage to challenge zanu but bcoz he and other unsung heroes and heroines have stood against tyranny for so long,some wishful thinkers want to spoil the democratic transformation the country badly needs. MDC and zanu are different bcoz mugabe came to power through elimanations of potential leaders! Tsvangirai must stay the full course of the struggle.If we agree that the term Democracy is relative then let it be interpreted by the MDC to suit their circumstances. Zanu has its own democracy and boast about and noone questions! Please give the MDC time to strategize!!!

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    vince 9 years ago

    That’s very true Tino .Forward for ever Morgen

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    Diodotus 9 years ago

    It is rubbish to think charisma is as important as the article tries to put forward. It has its place but credibility is more important and in my opinion Biti has just as much credibility if not more than Mugabe. He has been in government and worked on Finance and been at the helm of the good work that has been undertaken. Tsvangirai should look into moving on sooner than later, it is just common sense, he should not allow the party to stagnate because of his own short-sightedness. The long term view is achieving dynamic longevity and that is found in building a strong team and that will only happen if we allow for changes periodically. I think we are due a change of the front guard in MDC. Be humble and move on sir… He could still be an important force in Zimbabwean civil service but as for politics I think he has finished his part of the race.

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    mwana wevhu 9 years ago

    Morgan has not failed.ZANUPF has perfected electoral fraud and we all know that!Leadership of political opposition is the least of our worries right now.NKOMO,SITHOLE mong a host of political heavyweights were all pushed into oblivion by you know who. In all honesty lets direct all our vitriol, anger towards the real public enemy.

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    Rocks tone 9 years ago

    I agree with one chap who stated that no one is able to intergrate bigger star rallies like Mr Tsvangirai, but there are two different theorems here ,if you are to gather so many people at the rallies you must align your support with voter ‘s role make sure that they. Vote & you claim their victory so we did’nt see this happening ,as a result we will end up having a situation in which people getting pathetic about elections without blaming Morgan alone what decisive action had the part take to claim &yield the magnanimous choice of the electrolates

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    Mapingu 9 years ago

    In as much as I agree Tsvangirai is still popular with grassroots & also that some leaders who might be clever, charismatic, etc, in MDC top echelons at the moment may not fit into his shoes for now I still differ with some of the reasons advanced. For instance:
    1. Charisma – I don’t agree this is an over ridding trait to the MDC support-base. That’s not to say he is not articulate – far from it; he is. But look at it this way: had CHARISMA been Tsvangi’s greatest trait would he have scored much against a master orator of the mold of Bob? Your guess is as good as mine. I take it that the key MDC supporter or rather the Zimbo of today is much more swayed by other factors such as COURAGE, LEADERSHIP & EMOTIONAL MATURITY than charisma.

    I rank COURAGE as Tsvangi’s greatest trait. Standing up to any ruling party in Africa today, let alone to ZANU PF, is a high risk and torturous game. I can’t see anyone in the party who would have done that so well as Tsvangi has managed it.

    His ‘leadership style & emotional maturity’ has also served the MDC well. Yes he is no saint but look at how Profs (Ncube_Mutambara) & PhD holders (Simba_Dumiso) have failed to keep their parties intact.

    Even in Gushungo’s party, the only thing helping him keep the party intact is the feeding trough not CHARISMA any more. Yet people continue to follow Tsvangi even if he doesn’t hold the keys to Chiadzwa and other feeding points.

    2. Gender. Again I don’t agree on this one. I don’t agree that people would reject some one simply because she is a woman. Particularly the MDC support-base. Fact is the women in the top brass of MDC have not proven themselves anywhere close to Tsvangi in a host of factors. Yes they are good but I’m making a comparison here – no denigration at all.

    3. Having said that, I think currently MDC lacks any one in its top echelons with a sum total of the 4 traits (courage + leadership + emotional maturity + charisma)to match Tsvangi. Yes, if they there are any in the MDC who can, then they are not in the top brass at the moment. But I doubt.

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    Shame 9 years ago

    if morgan was beaten three times, atove mu’o’ vet akafira mdc. Kurohwa kwekutanga chindunduma 1, kepiri chimurenga 2, ketatu chindunduma 3. Anobvirei? Firapo Morgan, pfuurira kutsvaga chidzere chako uzvigadzirire heros acre yako womirira due death rako asi panyanga usabve. Anodawo ngaaende kundoitora kuri kurohwa vamwe vachizvimba matama. waudze vana bennet nakay ava kuti ‘chematama’ izita rekuhondo uye matama ese ayounawo kuremara kwakatozouya nekurowerwa mdc. fira pa’kirawu’

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    @ Tino fact Tsangirai lost 3 times to Mugabe that’s y Mugabe has been the president on those occasions.rig or no rig history says so. Also,so are u saying it was “TSANGIRAI” filling to star rallies not the MDC. Then let prove by him relinguishing power to someone and see if Zimbabweans who need change we just going to see Tsangirai or that they wanted to hear what the MDC was promising then if they get into govt.

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    Jackson 9 years ago

    Zimbabweans,Leadership change in the MDC-T must be handled carefully.Because if not,this party will fizzle out like other parties which contested once and never rose up again.

    I am not against leadership renewal but be aware that talk of Tsvangirai removal is sweet music in in the ears of zanu pf.

    Every revolution has a main icon and Tsvangirai is that for this current one. There must be a smooth transition of change of leadership if we are to maintain credible pressure to zanu pf.

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    tsvangirai is the man.its not him alone to oust the handiende (dictator).he won the elections two times. you are part of the masses who could have said no to rigging .its not about leadership, but its about zimbabweans who are cowards and who claim to be educated, so as calculate the losses of fighting.Even if in ZANU PF mugabe is removed they will be in a deeper crisis due to infighting, so as in MDC .the majority of politicians are just power hungry no matter at what cost.BITI must stay cool if he dream of being a zim leader .if he cant do this he must forget. HE WAS MY FAVORITE BUT AT THIS JUNCTURE.HE WONT GET ME AND MY FAMILY S VOTE amen!!!