The wikileaks documents, which have caused a media furor, with anyone who can string words together writing some sort of commentary about it, have caused another kind of frenzy. In the documents, the former U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell is quoted as saying,
“PRIME MINISTER Morgan Tsvangirai is a weak leader who cannot be relied upon to lead a country like Zimbabwe”. He goes on further to state:
“Tsvangirai is a flawed figure, not readily open to advice, indecisive and with questionable judgement in selecting those around him. He is the indispensable element for (regime change), but possibly an albatross around their necks once in power.”
The reaction of the prime minister himself was quite predictable, however it was the reaction of MDC-T supporters, many of whom secretly agree with what Dell so eloquently and incisively articulated in his not- so- secret secret communications on the Zimbabwe situation and its leaders. It is a secret agreement, because on the outside the cadres of MDC-T are foaming at the mouth, vilifying anyone who dares to openly agree with what Dell is saying. It is as though there is mass hysteria even on social networking sites where putting the above quotation on your wall in order to spark a discussion can result in the most obscene insults and gutter language that you can imagine. One such fan actually threatened to “find you and I will burn you alive!”
While this could simply be posturing on FB it is quite alarming the hundreds of vitriolic messages posted on the walls of those who were in accord with Dell’s analysis of MDC-T.
Once again this kind of behavior brings to mind the saying that people get the government they deserve. This saying was popularized during World War II. However it is worth examining in the current context of Zimbabwe and the issue of leadership and government.
The panicked reaction of MDC-T supporters to what is in actuality only the opinion of one man makes one ponder two things:
1-MDC-T supporters are either panicking because suddenly they realize that what they have been thinking secretly is really common sentiment. In which case the panic is driven from a fear of the alternative, the seemingly only alternative-Mugabe and Zanu-PF. This probably results in the irrational lashing out at those who openly voice their agreement with Dell because their voices threaten the one and only way they see as the thorough fare out of Mugabe’s rule.
2-MDC-T supporters are genuinely aggrieved that their leader is termed weak and not viewed as capable of leading Zimbabwe out of its numerous social and economic woes.
It is the former issue that is concerning because it shows that our politics in Zimbabwe is so fragile that it cannot withstand dissenting voices. It shows too that there is a section of the electorate which will blindly follow anyone who promises to lead them out of penury, despite the fact that all indicators point to the individual’s inability to lead them anywhere. Many thousands of people turned out to vote MDC-T in the 2008 presidential elections, despite the fact that many of them were not fully convinced of Tsvangirai’s abilities as an executive leader. However, in the absence of a viable alternative, there was really only one place to place that X, for Tsvangirai.
What this indicates is that the political landscape in Zimbabwe needs to change and that there needs to be real choices. A choice between the lesser of two evils does not amount to any choice at all and in essence it may be just a way of fore stalling more of the same. A sort of temporary reprieve before reverting to the status quo, the way things have always been.
In order to have more choice, people have to be committed to allowing those with the vision, ambition and commitment to at least try their hand in politics. There has to be political space for individuals both at home and in the Diaspora to articulate their vision and solutions for the country and its problems and if they inspire confidence in the electorate then they should be able to participate in the political arena without fear of victimization.
Failure to mature politically and failure to critically view our leaders and accept the reality of their weaknesses only breeds demigods and dictators, who become entrenched because no one dared to openly question, criticize and condemn those weaknesses that lead to excesses. The result of this entrenchment is quite obvious and written all over the landscape of our country for the last thirty years.
Fellow Zimbabweans, let us not settle. We have settled for way too long. Let us get the leadership we truly deserve, a leadership that will bring our country and our spirits out of the doldrums and onto the global stage with some clout. The development of our country as a democratic nation demands that we become more tolerant of other voices, outlooks and more intolerant of sub-standard band-aid type government and policies. Zimbabwe needs properly functioning cohesive governments whose components reticulate and move in a co- ordinated manner. Not some haphazard patchwork government of national unity composed of units that do not cross communicate and which are, for the most part, highly flawed!