By Sij Ncube
Harare, April 16, 2016 – IN what ranks as probably his political resurrection ahead of the crunch 2018 elections, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai Thursday led from the front to stage a peaceful street protest against President Robert Mugabe’s corruption-riddled government as riot police and other state security agents stood akimbo.
Not even the heavy police presence could dissuade the MDC-T multitudes from flocking to the ‘Freedom Square’ for the start of the march.
The protests were also against the looting of revenue from the country’s diamonds Mugabe estimates could have been worth $15 billion.
But it was the Tsvangirai’s leading from the front at the start of the march which appeared to excite the crowds and the unexpected civil behaviour of police.
Clad in the party’s red colours, the crowd was electrified as it made into way to Africa Unity Square where Tsvangirai used the occasion to rally support against Mugabe’s regime.
“Never be tempted to write a premature political obituary of Morgan Tsvangirai,” boasted Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka after the march.
Analysts are adamant Tsvangirai and his MDC-T need not rest on the laurels citing the huge attendance at the so-called Mother of All Protests.
More hard work lies ahead of the party whose leader has controversially lost thrice in a row to Mugabe since the formation of the main opposition party in 1999.
In all the defeats, Tsvangirai has alleged vote-rigging, among a myriad of other electoral irregularities.
Analysts are agreed while Tsvangirai remains popular among ordinary Zimbabweans, he needs a united and broader opposition coalition to finally wrestle political power from the veteran Zanu PF politician.
Maxwell Saungweme, an international development analyst based in Afghanistan, says the fact that he led the protest from the front strengthens him as all can see that there is still an opposition leader with the guts to stand against the system in a serious manner.
Saungweme added that the current state of affairs characterised by a battered economy and the collapse of social services could have led to many joining the march.
“But for this to translate into wrestling power and getting to State House, more is required. Depth in terms of policies is needed, effective diplomacy is required, not to talk of intelligence and the ability to infiltrate and influence the military and security structures that manipulate polls.
“He needs to develop from the mass support an effective system to reclaim the people’s vote when stolen.
In short, you can’t rule him out, but more is required than just mobilising masses,” he said.
Pedzisai Rhuhanya, the director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, added his voice on the issue, saying Thursday’s event showed that Tsvangirai has mobilisation capacity and was far from being finished yet.
“He flexed his muscles convincingly in Harare but he needs other opposition political formations to mount a surmountable assault, bid on state power. Let’s not abuse these good mobilisation skills to dismiss and scorn other democratic opposition forces,” said Ruhanya.
“We should learn from the collective democratic challenges since 1999. This is no time for political romance.”
Rodrick Fayayo, a political analyst based in Bulawayo, described the MDC-T demonstration in Harare as ground-shaking.
“It is a quantum step towards ensuring that the ordinary Zimbabweans demand accountability from their leaders. Zimbabweans should never accept these levels of corruption and self-centeredness from anyone no matter how big or small.”
Vivid Gwede, a Harare-based political analyst, believes the opposition has done justice to its role, which is to raise contemporary issues affecting the people.
“If anyone doubted, this is an affirmation that democracy has quite a lot of takers.”
But Ricky Mukonza, a holder of a Public Management doctorate and teaches at South Africa’s Venda University of Science and Technology, cautions that while in Zimbabwean politics numbers are necessary, they are not a sufficient condition for state power capture.
“Through the march, Tsvangirai has made a strong statement on how he is still very much in the game politically, however, the march should not be seen as an end in itself. Rather it should be seen as a means to an end,” said Mukonza.
“I would therefore advise Tsvangirai to have a multi-pronged approach that includes, charming and infiltrating the security sector, destabilising Zanu PF, going on a diplomatic offensive rebuilding international reputation of the party, continue push for various political demands that will level the playing field. Over and above that, the party must ensure that if the opportunity to govern comes its way, it must be ready.
“In that regard, it must build capacity by either developing its cadres or attracting talented individuals and experts from outside. I still maintain that a broad coalition would be the best option for opposition parties going into 2018. On destabilising Zanu PF, the process must not be left to happen on its own. MDC must have a strategy to infiltrate and quicken the process.”