Weekend Read: What Went Wrong With Zimbabwe’s MDC-T?

Below is a snippet from Leon Hartwell paper titled What Went Wrong With Zimbabwe’s MDC-T?  In his paper Hartwell, who once worked for Netherlands Embassy based in Zimbabwe, attempted to identify the key issues that made the Movement for Democratic Change led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) a weak political party.

The paper identifies twenty-one lessons that MDC-T has to address in order to revive the opposition and to develop it into a unified front that will be able to effectively compete against Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

When one former ZANU-PF minister was asked about the MDC-T’s weaknesses, he cited lack of leadership as one of the top three, as “Tsvangirai showed serious lack of preparedness to lead and was greatly damaged with the issues that involved women and the Legend of the Seas fiasco.”  Although Tsvangirai’s “sexcapades” cost the party dearly, there were also other instances when a lack of leadership held the party back.

During the GNU years, Tsvangirai seemed more focused on shoring up his own power than abiding by the MDC-T’s principles. He deserves enormous credit for his early party-building work and his endurance, despite repeated physical attacks.  But his appetite for liberty and democracy – the MDC-T’s raisons d’être – seems to have waned in the wake of challenges to his authority.  Like Mugabe, Tsvangirai became the authoritarian enemy that he was once fighting against.  Instead of demonstrating that the MDC-T was different from ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai, taking a page from Mugabe’s handbook on how to maintain power, amended the party constitution that limited the party president’s terms in office to two terms.  Despite the disintegration of the party, Tsvangirai’s interest in sitting on the party’s throne hardened during the GNU period. His waning popularity meant that Tsvangirai and his inner circle inevitably needed to increasingly rely on more threats, bribery and violence in an attempt to retain their positions (as was the case with Mugabe). When Elton Mangoma, a long-time friend of Tsvangirai and founding member of the MDC-T, recommended in the aftermath of the GNU that Tsvangirai should do the honourable thing and step down, he was assaulted by alleged party members before he was suspended. 

Opposition parties will be up against a newly reformed ZANU-PF, which means they would have to take a hard look at what went wrong and learn from their mistakes.  The issues unpacked below happened under Tsvangirai’s watch, but the underlying message is that there is a great need to transform the opposition at large.

To read the full document CLICK  What Went Wrong With The MDC-T by 263Chat 

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