Home » Governance » Morgan Tsvangirai and the Illusion of Mass Support

Over the past few months MDC-T has been rocked by serious infighting and divisions which have left the party on the brink. The war for control of the party has seen the rise of two clear factions: one loyal to Morgan Tsvangirai and steered by his confidantes, the party’s organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and a member of the national executive Charlton Hwende the other, dubbed the Renewal Team, is largely seen as championing the cause of secretary-general Tendai Biti, although it has been fronted by expelled deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma and the former legal aisor in the ex-Prime Minister’s office, Jacob Mafume.

Within the storms of disputations, arguments have been raised as to the strength of both sides in this political tag of war.

The Renewal Team is seen as technical and politically astute while Tsvangirai’s faction is seen as commanding grassroots support.

It is thus important for one to look closely at whether MDC-T as led by Tsvangirai really has the masses it claims to have, particularly after the July 31, 2013 electoral annihilation and the recent lifeless shows in local authority by-elections.

In politics, support for a political party must be seen through the votes it attains in elections.

Therefore, it is this yardstick which one can use to measure if Tsvangirai really has the mass support which his faction claims to wield.

The recent showing of the MDC in by-elections since the call for leadership renewals started has been all but completely dismal, especially when viewed in the light that it has lost wards which it had won on July 31.

MDC-T has lost all the wards that have been contested across the country, even in urban areas, which have since the turn of the millennium been largely their gholds.

While MDC-T has been faring poorly in its “gholds”, ZANU-PF is comfortable winning in both rural and urban areas.

One can easily see that MDC-T is failing to get even 50 percent of the votes it won in the July 31 election.

Clearly all is not well for Tsvangirai’s leadership and the myth of having “vanhu” (masses) is slowly coming out to be the lie that it is.

What is coming out of the ballot boxes shows us that people go to rallies for reasons different from why the vote.

Indeed the social psychology of group think (mob psychology) and the individual psychology of self-interest (politics of the belly) are at play here.

Tsvangirai and his team are living in a world of their own: political history in Zimbabwe has shown us that people may come to rallies in their thousands but their voting patterns are barely defined by these gatherings.

One would quickly remember the fate of the late Bishop Muzorewa’s UANC party in the 1980 watershed general election.

Muzorewa addressed huge crowds across the country but got a paltry three seats in the House of Assembly.

Furthermore, MDC-T is still lost in the politics of the past: the politics of mere slogans that focus on removing enemies – both internal and external – from power. It is a politics with nothing for the ordinary man and woman on the streets who need a message of not only hope but that is transformative and actions that are revolutionary.

The land reform programme is producing a new black middle class that has an interest in doing business the urban population in no longer the same as that of 2000 which was dominated by a unionised working class.

The whole talk of Tsvangirai having masses is proving to be a farce without any electoral results to show for it all and by the rate at which things are going, his leadership is crumbling.

Professor Welshman Ncube’s party is the other victim of this electoral myth of rallies and votes. His party campaigned vigorously in Matabeleland and Bulawayo.

During the run-up to last year’s election Professor Moyo address huge crowds which sent him into the high heavens of political dreams while sending shivers up the spines of his political opponents.

Yet for all that, he is thankful for the one seat they acquired through the women’s quota otherwise his party suffered a political Armageddon from which he will need a miracle to rise.

Furthermore, MDC-T is still lost in the politics of the past: the politics of mere slogans that focus on removing enemies – both internal and external – from power. It is a politics with nothing for the ordinary man and woman on the streets who need a message of not only hope but that is transformative and actions that are revolutionary.

The urban constituency and even the rural constituency is reconfiguring too quickly for the comprehension of Tsvangirai and his team.

The land reform programme is producing a new black middle class that has an interest in doing business the urban population in no longer the same as that of 2000 which was dominated by a unionised working class.

Currently, 80 percent of the urban population relies on the informal economy, handling billions of dollars collectively.

These are people who do not see the benefit of foreign direct investment as touted by MDC-T this sector is disillusioned with the corrupt MDC-T-led councils.

Like everyone else, this sector is very conscious of the fact that MDC-T did practically nothing while in Government to empower them, to develop their capacity to be economically active in their small and medium enterprises.

All they remember are the cars and women that Tsvangirai showed the world money can buy.

The whole talk of Tsvangirai having masses is proving to be a farce without any electoral results to show for it all and by the rate at which things are going, his leadership is crumbling.

Mkono is a former president of Zinasu, a political commentator and an environmental activist

Source : The Herald

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