By Sij Ncube
HARARE, July 27, 2015 – Zanu(PF)’S continued vexation with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai suggests President Robert Mugabe’s party remains fearful of the opposition leader ahead of the crunch 2018 polls, more so after surviving three splits inside a decade, analysts say.
Tsvangirai, who is reportedly steadying the MDC-T ahead of the next polls in which the party will participate with or without requisite electoral reforms, had his Highlands home raided twice within a week by the Deputy Sheriff ostensibly to recover about $48 000 owned for party employees.
With state media in toe – both print and broadcast – officials from the office of the Deputy Sheriff unsuccessful tried to seize Tsvangirai’s personal belongings but were thwarted after they were shown a stay of execution writ.
The beleaguered MDC-T leader, who argues that he is not party to the legal proceedings pending at the Labour Court, was last week forced to file an inter-pleader application that his spin-doctors claim clearly established that his personal property should not be attached and removed in execution of a debt allegedly owed by the MDC.
Analysts are adamant the labour issue has taken a political dimension at the behest of Zanu PF mandarins fearful of Tsvangirai despite investing acres of space and airtime in the state media to portray the MDC-T leader as a spent political force.
If he is not caricatured as a clueless opposition politician in the cartoon pages, Tsvangirai is always in the State media as a very bad person.
But the dramatization of Tsvangirai’s woes in the state media regarding the labour issue is viewed by critics as the continuation of a sustained smear campaign by the state media pushing an agenda of Zanu PF bigwigs vehemently against regime change and leadership renewal as 2018 polls beckon.
The analysts claim Zanu(PF) under-estimated his staying power in opposition politics as it hoped Tsvangirai would be history by now, nearly two and half years ahead of fresh polls at a time while Mugabe is still battling internecine infighting in his party.
They point out that the recent disruption by law enforcement of Tsvangirai’s political meetings in Mutare were also calculated to frustrate him as “he has refused to die” ahead of the 2018 polls.
Instead the MDC-T leader appears to be on the move again. A perceived “holy alliance” with former vice president Joice Mujuru and other democratic forces is again reportedly giving Mugabe and Zanu PF a political headache ahead of the polls in which the 91-year old leader has been unanimously endorsed as the party’s presidential candidate despite his advanced age and failing health.
Maxwell Saungweme, a development and political analyst, told Radio VOP Monday Tsvangirai is still the only politician in Zimbabwe with a solid following from most people who have been short-changed by Zanu (PF) and have been relegated to a state of penury and poverty, thanks to Mugabe’s regime policies.
“While not reading too much politically into the attaching of Morgan’s assets that may be purely a legal issue with elements of over-zealousness from the law officers involved, the fact still remains that any politician harbouring presidential ambitions, would find it worthwhile to try and decimate Tsvangirai. He poses the stiffest competition to anyone at present,” said Saungweme.
Bekithemba Mpofu, a former secretary general of the MDC Youth Assembly, said Zanu PF had no reason to be fearful of Tsvangirai, pointing out they always have a way to go around him or bull-dozing him.
Mpofu believes 2013 was a big test for Zanu(PF) in terms of the seriousness of Tsvangirai to take over as President, especially the lack of a plan after the deliberate rigging that took place.
“Remember, when Zanu(PF) lost the 2008 election they still remained in power. So l see no reason for Zanu(PF) to be fearful of Tsvangirai, now that they know they can lose or blatantly rig but still remain in power. Zanu(PF) would, instead, prefer to build sympathy for Tsvangirai with the hope that he is the only viable opposition in 2018. We know what will happen if that is the case. Whether Tsvangirai wins fairly or loses through unashamed rigging in 2018, Zanu(PF) will remain in power because they have made sure he is surrounded by individuals who will not help him make alternative plans,” he said.
But Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson for MDC Renewal Team, said it is high time Tsvangirai moved away from the victim card syndrome.
“What we need is to renew the democratic struggle and focus on those that want to see real change,” said Mafume.
“The man is surviving on residual momentum from the heights he has previously climbed. It is that slowing down momentum that confuses ZANU PF which has never been good about identifying threat. Residual momentum can give an illusion of motion even where it is coming to premature stop.”