Sunday, September 01, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) How Tsvangirai was outwitted, yet again
03/08/2013 00:00:00
by Denford Magora

IF ANY indication was needed that Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party are living in La-la-land, delusional and completely off the mark with accusations of vote rigging, it was provided in an interview that he gave to South Africa’s Etv.

In the interview, broadcast on the morning of August 2, Tsvangirai gave the clearest indication yet that his allegations of vote-rigging are not rooted in fact but conjecture, delusional thinking and a basic refusal to self-examine and learn from mistakes.

Asked to substantiate his allegations, Tsvangirai told the Etv interviewer that the MDC-T "used to control Manicaland" and now they do not have a single seat in Manicaland. "Could people have lost faith in us to that extent?" he asked.

So basically, his allegations of rigging are based on the simple fact that he cannot believe that they lost. He took all his support for granted, that they would never desert him no matter what he did, no matter how badly he behaved. These are "his" people that he owns and he cannot see how on earth they could turn on his party and desert him.

Tsvangirai and the MDC-T only need to look at examples from other countries to see how the mood of a people can change and they desert a party completely.

Ask the Tories in the United Kingdom what happened to them when Tony Blair took over in 1997 from John Major. They lost seats that were considered strongholds.

Ask the Republicans in the United States what happened to them when Bill Clinton took power. And then ask them what happened when Barack Obama took power and retained it in a second election, despite all Republicans being convinced that Obama was dead in the water. The US economy was in the doldrums, Obamacare was said by every single poll to be deeply unpopular.

In fact, so incredulous were the Republicans after Obama won that they pulled a Tsvangirai and a lot of their supporters went on to social media and to the airwaves to allege that Obama and the "Chicago Mafia" had rigged the election.

But, more importantly, we need to look at how Tsvangirai lost this election. It is so obvious and was signalled to the MDC-T all through their years of sharing power with Mugabe that their decision to ignore these warnings cannot be anything other than a certain hubris that saw the MDC-T thinking they were ordained by God to win. Supporters were taken for granted.

Here's how it unfolded:

While Tsvangirai was in government, he turned his attention almost exclusively to chasing "reforms" and fighting Mugabe for more power in the GNU. Neglecting his constituency, he fought to have tea with army generals in the misnamed National Security Council. He thought he could afford to park his supporters and only come back to engage them when he was good and ready.

So, he pursued security reforms that would never come. He fought to be seen as an "equal" with Mugabe, fruitlessly went on and on about how Mugabe could not do anything without getting his approval. He fought to get ZANU PF Ministers to attend his Council of Ministers meetings (being told by Webster Shamu in the process that Shamu did not "report to the Prime Minister", but that he had a president.

This was a deliberate tactic on Mugabe's part: keep Morgan busy with little, inconsequential fights in government while Mugabe himself kept his eye firmly on the next election. The determination he had to prove to the world that he could a free and fair election was towering, a consuming passion that he combed through every single day.

Mugabe was very clear on his instructions: this was to be his swan song, his last election before retiring from the scene and he wanted to bookend his leadership of Zimbabwe. In plain language, his win in 2013 was to be on the same scale as 1980 or better. Mugabe himself gave this game away when he said during his press conference the day before elections that his performance in the 31 July 2013 poll was to be better than 1980.

So, an incredible drive to register voters was put into action.

Using their cell, ward, district and provincial structures, Zanu PF went all out, street by street, mopping up every single supporter that they could muster to register and be on the voters' roll. This process was also masked under the process of mobilising for the Referendum on the new constitution.

But MDC-T should have smelt a rat if they paid any attention at all to what Mugabe said during that referendum. (By this time, he had all the figures for voter registration of ZANU PF supporters by ward, district, province and constituency).

Mugabe publicly indicated that he was not fussed about the constitution, that he had things in there that he did not agree with and that he really did not give a hoot which way the referendum went.

So that matters were not complicated, he publicly ordered ZANU PF structures to fall in line with the MDC-T position and vote Yes and bring on the election. He was certain he had the advantage.

His public statement, which should have alerted MDC-T to where his actual sights lay, were: "Just go, vote yes so that we get rid of the GNU creature. Remember that, whoever wins the election that will come after this Referendum can change the constitution to whatever they want it to be."

This should have alerted the MDC-T to the real motives of Mugabe and ZANU PF, which are being borne out by the results of this week's election: Mugabe had long established that he not only needed to win the election, but that he needed to win by a two thirds majority in order to change the constitution. He has achieved this.

Meantime, The Herald reported on April 10 this year that ZANU was on a mission to register its supporters as well as new voters.

Rugare Gumbo was quoted on that day as telling the Herald:

“We urge everyone to go and register as voters even though the mobile exercise by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is yet to begin.

“Registration as a voter is an ongoing exercise and we have been mobilising our people in our structures countrywide to ensure that they check whether their names appear in the voters’ roll and if not they should register.”

The same report baldly states that Bright Matonga, in Mhondoro Ngezi was also on a mission:

“Meanwhile, Zanu-PF House of Assembly member for Mhondoro-Ngezi Cde Bright Matonga on Friday distributed voters’ rolls in various wards in the constituency to ensure that people check whether their names appear on the lists.

“I want to thank you for the overwhelming support that you showed during the referendum and what is now left is to consolidate that victory by voting for Zanu PF at the elections that will be held soon.

“I have brought copies of the voters’ roll so that you can check if your names appear in it. All those who have not registered should immediately go and register to vote so that when the elections come we will win resoundingly.”

The MDC-T did not utter a word, did not make a move through all of this, taking support absolutely for granted. They thought Zanu PF had accepted that it was now dead. They even deluded each other into believing that Zanu PF ministers and officials were now cosying up to Tsvangirai, as was mentioned to me by one senior Tsvangirai official, "because they want to get a piece of the action after the next elections. They realise we will bury Zanu PF and their only hope is that they get a post or something from MT."

The MDC-T continued to treat Mugabe on the basis that they had so much support across the country as MDC-T (based on 2008) that it was inconceivable to them Mugabe could pull off a win. A two-thirds win? Mugabe must be dreaming! they told each other as they slapped each other on the back.

Resources, meantime, were being focused by Mugabe entirely on mobilisation and registering voters across Zimbabwe. The scale of this mobilisation for the registration exercise, being conducted when no one had any inkling that an election would be called July 31, was monumental.

What spurred Zanu PF to go all out like they did was Mugabe's certainty that the elections would be held on June 29. That was the date Zanu PF was working towards. The extra month they got from the court ruling only allowed them to now polish off any rough remaining edges.

Tendai Biti and all others in the MDC-T were aware of this, but in an incredible betrayal of their supporters, they simply dismissed all this as the kicks of a dying horse, with Morgan Tsvangirai being cheered by his comrades in the belief that, (again, a direct quote from an MDC-T official in October 2012): "Even if MT was caught red-handed committing murder, he would still win the next election."

So they did not panic. Which was a tragic mistake.

Mugabe even let things slip on three occasions, but this was ignored by an over-confident MDC-T that took support for granted , dismissed surveys done by conservative groups from the US and the UK. Some of them even dared to suggest that the survey was a trick by their Western friends to lull Mugabe into a false sense of security!

In the end, no matter what accusations of rigging etc are thrown at Zanu PF, the truth of the matter is that there is no way out for the MDC-T this time.

President Zuma of South Africa has already said that those who allege rigging must provide the proof.

It is clear that, from this morning's interview on E News Africa, the only proof that Tsvangirai and Company have is the "belief" that "it can't be true, how can people have lost faith in us" to the extent that we effectively lose all seats in Manicaland, a province we used to control.

This was Tsvangirai's answer this morning to being asked to provide proof.

It will be interesting to see how many African and world leaders accept the charges accompanied by the statement that "it is true because I, Morgan Tsvangirai, say it is true."

Denford Magora is a Zimbabwean blogger

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