Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tsvangirai FOREVER


"If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants," so goes the famous moving words by Sir Isaac Newton, an English physicist and mathematician. The quote is from a letter written to a fellow scientist, Robert Hooke in February 1675, and the phrase is understood to mean that Newton had made remarkable discoveries about the universe than others in his field, because he was working in the light of discoveries made by fellow scientists , either in his own time or earlier.

Although Newton's quotation is one of the most frequently used in scientific enquiry, alluded to by researchers of all walks of life who wish to acknowledge their own limitations when faced with the complexity of their subject, I will today borrow it and use it, in the context of paying tribute to our former prime minister, the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, who passed away on February 14, after succumbing to colon cancer.

Like every other Zimbabwean, the sad news took me by surprise and broke my heart, for I had the rare occassion of meeting the MDC-T leader a few years ago here in Germany in Berlin. Although he had a very tight schedule and few days stop over, Tsvangirai took the time to meet us in the dead of the night before his morning departure the following day, after a meeting facilitated by one of his close aides.

What struck me was his humility and joy to touch base with a fellow Zimbabwean so far away from home. The meeting was important and had been in the making for months, until this window presented itself. We had to drive for more than 500km from my base in Cologne to Berlin, together with my associate from Ghana, as we finally came face to face, with the face of Zimbabwe's opposition.

Tsvangirai did not give himself much credit for championing democracy in the country during our conversation, yet his contribution speaks on its own. The veteran politician was a punching bag of former president, Robert Mugabe's security apparatus, and he endured countless arrests and even a fabricated treason charge, that almost sent him to the gallows in 2004.

Twisting Newton's words, I would imagine the late premier recoining it to the effect: "If I have advanced democracy further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."

Zimbabwe has a list of gallant fighters for democracy who paved the way for other activists, such as the late Ndabaningi Sithole and Edgar Tekere. Margaret Dongo and in recent times Paul Siwela, have also played their part.

The Tsvangirai I met that day, seemed to have graduated and matured beyond his time politically, and despite his failures and mistakes, especially on the sanctions issue according to his nemesis in the ruling Zanu PF, which appears to have cost him the national hero status, after serving as a whole head of government during the coaltion administration with Mugabe in 2009, spoke passionately about the welfare of ordinary Zimbabweans, as opposed to the elitist policies coming out of Harare.

Zimbabwe is fabulously rich in minerals, including diamonds, platinum, gold, virgin uranium and now lithium, which will soon be the new oil, first discovered near Zvishavane in the 1930s I was told by a friend and mining expert in Bulawayo, yet the country and our people have nothing to show for it but abject poverty. Tsvangirai, had he become President this year, was determined to turn the tables.

The contents of our encounter are hot stories and political revelations for another day, which Spotlight Zimbabwe, will fearlessly bring to light soon. One is shell-shocked to learn that things are not what they seem to be in the opposition, and that many of us unsuspecting Zimbabweans are being taken for a ride by kleptomaniac elements, unashamedly willing to cause mayhem in the Motherland for the sake of getting power, by hook or by crook.

Tsvangirai could be one of the greatest presidents we never had. They stole his presidency in 2008 after he reportedly won by a landslide victory against Mugabe, but the results were allegedly doctored to force an unnecessary run-off.

In 2015, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, then a VP made a tacit admission to this fact, when he was quoted by the press saying Tsvangirai was going to be President of Zimbabwe in 2008 admitting for the first time that the MDC leader won that year's elections.

"In 2008 when (MDC-T leader Mr Morgan) Tsvangirai almost ruled this country, I was the chief election agent for the President and Mutasa was the secretary for Administration. Surprisingly, when the results were announced, Mutasa had already packed all his belongings from the office. When I phoned him he told me that he was already in Rusape," said Mnangagwa.

Mugabe himself also set the record straight on his defeat to Tsvangirai in 2014, just after firing his then deputy Joice Mujuru, blurting out that the opposition leader had garnered 73 percent of the disputed 2008 presidential vote.

"When we failed to, when Tsvangirai got 73 percent of the votes …," Mugabe said before he was interjected by hawk-eyed securocrats. "Oh, he got 47 percent of the votes and I got 43 percent. Vanhu (people) made noise. They said don't worry, elections, no elections. I said we should have elections, there is no winner with this 50 plus 1 percent".

Rest In Power Mr President!