Losing Friends Fast • Zim Prime Minister is increasingly isolated •
Harare – With a general election expected in Zimbabwe by June 29, the MDC-T party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is fast losing the support of its traditional local allies.
Professor Lovemore Madhuku, the chair of the National Constitutional Assembly which has for a decade stood by MDC-T, recently poured vitriol on Tsvangirai for being preoccupied with his selfish interests.
“I think that most of the leaders of the MDC-T no longer look at the interests of the people. They are more interested in entrenching their own positions. And also the deep values that led to the formation of the party have been abandoned,” said Prof Madhuku.
Student representatives who have been Tsvangirai allies have also come out questioning MDC-T’s capacity to deliver on its promises after witnessing corruption by party officials deployed in the coalition government.
American broadcaster CNN and establishment newspaper The New York Times then went on to level similar allegations against Tsvangirai, saying corruption and poor management of personal affairs were costing MDC-T support.
CNN’s Connect the World anchor Becky Anderson said to Tsvangirai in an interview: “Many people I speak to in Zimbabwe, with respect, are frankly fed up with your leadership.
“They say that you have compromised the power-sharing agreement. There are stories about your social life. There are stories about your finances … They don’t want to see your social life and your finances making headlines…”
Simon Allison, writing for the Guardian newspaper in the UK said President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF would likely win the elections as it was managing its politics far better than the other political parties.
“The likely scenario is that ZANU-PF will ride the wave of Mugabe’s still great popularity to earn another win in the upcoming elections (or, at the very least, get enough genuine votes to ensure that not too much dodgy business is needed to get him across the line).
“Once he’s installed in office, the party can manage the issue of succession at its leisure,” Allison said.
Surveys by usually pro-MDC-T groups have also pointed to a ZANU-PF victory.
In September 2012, the UK-based Zimbabwe Vigil group said MDC-T was likely to lose the elections because of – among other things – rampant corruption in its top leadership.
This damning assessment came hard on the heels of two unflattering surveys by US-based group Freedom House, and Afro Barometer, both of whom said President Mugabe and ZANU-PF would likely win the polls.
The August 2012 Freedom House survey said support for MDC-T had fallen from 38 percent in 2010 to 20 percent, while support for ZANU-PF grew to 31 percent from 17 percent over the same period. The survey also said President Mugabe would likely command the support of 31 percent of voters in a Presidential race compared to 19 percent for Tsvangirai.
The survey said ZANU-PF’s clear programmes, such as land reform and economic indigenisation, were selling well among voters while the “change” mantra pushed by MDC-T had lost steam.
The Afro Barometer survey also put ZANU-PF ahead of MDC-T, but said another coalition government was likely.
A survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute released in February this year said ZANU-PF would win the Parliamentary elections with 33 percent of the vote to 32 percent for MDC-T.
White commercial farmers, who have long supported MDC-T, are also changing tack.
Last week, Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) vice president Peter Steyl said they had abandoned their confrontational approach with the government over land reforms because they “could not continue swimming against the tide”, while acknowledging “that the land reform programme is irreversible”.
Political analyst Prof Jonathan Moyo said confidence in MDC-T had been eroded.
“They (Western media) are describing the situation as they see it. Clearly what they are doing really is expressing their loss of confidence in Tsvangirai and his MDC-T and disappointment about their discovery of his true colours.
“It is an expression of lack of confidence that he is not up to task. Before 2008 there was a lot that was unknown about the MDC-T and Tsvangirai, there was a lot that was presumed and assumed.
“It was assumed that he was a democrat but the experiences of the last four years have exposed Tsvangirai and his party, what was unknown is now known,” he said.
He said the MDC-T had neglected the wishes of the ordinary people and its constituencies.
“They have abandoned the NGOs, the students, the workers and residents of urban areas. They have abandoned their constituencies. There is nothing that the MDC-T has championed in the past four years.
Another analyst, Goodwine Mureriwa said the U-turn by the Western media and organisations that have traditionally supported MDC-T was not surprising given the party’s performance in the coalition government.
“MDC-T and Tsvangirai joined the inclusive government amid high expectations and promises but they failed to live up to those so the reports by the Western media are not surprising.
“The MDC-T run councils have been dominated by corruption while their leader’s sexual escapades have not done any good to his image while his allies have also abandoned him.
“It is therefore clear that Tsvangirai and his party will not win the forthcoming elections,” Mureriwa said.