Tsvangirai the legacy

Tsvangirai the legacy
Published: 16 February 2018 (762 Views)
No one would have ever thought that the son of Dzingirai-Chibwe Tsvangirai and Lydia Tsvangirai (née Lydia Zvaipa) would one day become the major key in the political arena of Zimbabwe. Morgan Richard Tsvangirai was born on the 10th of March in 1952. He did his primary and secondary education in Hwedza and Gutu respectively. The Buhera bred lad attained his first job in 1972 as a trainee weaver for Elastics & Tapes textile factory in Mutare. However, in 1974 he became an apprentice for Anglo America's Nickel Mine in Bindura. He spent ten years at the mine, rising from plant operator to plant supervisor.

Tsvangirai married his first wife, Susan, in 1978. At independence in 1980, Morgan Tsvangirai, who was then aged 28, joined the then popular and victorious ZANU-PF party led by the man who was later to become his biggest political rival, former president Robert Mugabe. He is also known for his role in the Zimbabwean trade union movement, where he held the position of branch chairman of the Associated Mine Workers' Union and was later elected into the executive of the National Mine Workers' Union. In 1989 he became the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the umbrella trade union organization of Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai led the ZCTU away from the ruling ZANU-PF. As his power and that of the movement grew, his relationship with the government deteriorated. In 1997 The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) was established and was chaired by Tsvangirai. Serving with Tsvangirai in the task force were activists that included Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Professor Welshman Ncube, Everjoice Win, Brian Kagoro, Tendai Biti and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

The NCA gathered individual Zimbabwean citizens and civic organizations including labor movements, student and youth groups, women's groups, churches, business groups and human rights organizations. These individuals and groups formed the NCA to campaign for constitutional reform after realizing that the political, social and economic problems affecting Zimbabwe were mainly a result of the defective Lancaster House constitution and could only be resolved through a new and democratic constitution. Tsvangirai stepped down after being elected president of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

In 1999 Tsvangirai founded and organized the MDC, an opposition party opposed to President Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF ruling party. He helped to defeat the February 2000 constitutional referendum, successfully campaigning against it along with the National Constitutional Assembly. Tsvangirai lost the March 2002 presidential election to Mugabe. The election provoked widespread allegations by the western countries that Mugabe had rigged the election through the use of violence, media bias, and manipulation of the voters' roll leading to abnormally high pro-Mugabe turnout in some areas.

Tsvangirai was arrested after the government alleged that he had threatened then, President Robert Mugabe. The MDC leader had told 40,000 supporters at a rally in Harare that if Mr. Mugabe did not want to step down before the next elections scheduled for 2002 "we will remove you violently." However, Tsvangirai said that he was giving a warning to Mugabe to consider history. "There is a long line of dictators who have refused to go peacefully – and the people have removed them violently," he said. The courts dismissed the charges.

In May 2003 Tsvangirai was arrested on a Friday afternoon shortly after giving a press conference, the government alleged he had incited violence. In the press conference he had said, “From Monday, 2 June, up to today, 6 June, Mugabe was not in charge of this country. He was busy marshaling his forces of repression against the sovereign will of the people of Zimbabwe.

However, even in the context of the brutalities inflicted upon them, the people's spirit of resistance was not broken. The sound of gunfire will never silence their demand for change and freedom.”

On 11 March 2007 a day after his 55th birthday, Tsvangirai was arrested on his way to a prayer rally in Highfield Harare. His wife was allowed to see him in prison, after which she reported that he had been heavily tortured by police, resulting in deep gashes on his head and a badly swollen eye. The event garnered an international outcry.

He was allegedly tortured by a Special Forces of Zimbabwe unit based at the army's Cranborne Barracks on 12 March 2007 after being arrested and held at Machipisa Police Station in the Highfield suburb of Harare. Tsvangirai was released, but on 28 March 2007, Zimbabwean police stormed the MDC's Harvest House, national headquarters and once again arrested him, hours before he was to speak with the media about recent political violence in the country.

A presidential election and parliamentary election was held on 29 March 2008. The three major candidates were Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni. The MDC photographed data at each polling station to collate for electoral results. The official results of the presidential election's first round were finally released on 2 May 2008 and hotly contested by the MDC representatives. According to the results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Tsvangirai won the first round, amassing 47.9% of the votes against 43.2% claimed by Mugabe. This meant that no candidate had the necessary 50% plus one vote to be declared the winner after the first round and a run-off would be needed. MDC spokesperson then, Nelson Chamisa called the announced results "scandalous daylight robbery." The MDC continued to assert that it won an outright victory in the first round with 50.3% of the votes.

Morgan Tsvangirai was detained by police while campaigning on Wednesday 4 June 2008, after being stopped at a police roadblock. Tsvangirai and a group of 14 party officials were held at a police station in Lupane. This was claimed by Tsvangirai, and widely believed by human rights groups, to be a tactic to disrupt his campaign for the 27 June elections. Tsvangirai was accused by police of threatening public security by addressing a gathering without prior authorization. He was released without charge after eight hours. Tsvangirai commented that this was "nothing but the usual harassment which is totally unnecessary." The police also confiscated one of the security vehicles in the entourage.

After having reviewed the repercussions of the presidential run-off Tsvangirai decided to withdraw from the run-off citing the main reason as that of his supporters who he would have put at risk if they voted for him. Regardless, Mugabe went along with the run-off uncontested and pronounced a resounding victory. However, the international community bemoaned the results and Mugabe was forced to indulge into a power sharing deal, something which he had never deemed possible.

On 15 September 2008, the leaders of the 14 member Southern African Development Community (SADC) witnessed the signing of the power-sharing agreement, brokered by former South African leader Thabo Mbeki. With symbolic handshake and warm smiles at the Rainbow Towers hotel, in Harare. Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed the deal to end the violent political crisis. As provided, Mugabe remained president, Tsvangirai became prime minister, on 11 February 2009 he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

Later on in the year Susan Tsvangirai was involved in a horrific car accident that ended her life. Regardless Tsvangirayi soldiered on bearing the weight of the nation on his shoulders. Things changed for the Zimbabwean people and for the first time in a long time the country saw a beam of light in the socio-political and economic landscape of the country. On the 15th of September 2012 Tsvangirayi remarried his second wife, Elizabeth Tsvangirayi (née Elizabeth Macheka).

In 2013 the Government of National Unity (GNU) was dissolved as its term had now lapsed paving way for the presidential elections. Although Tsvangirayi castigated the dissolution of the GNU the elections went underway and he lost by more than 60% to Mugabe. Regardless, Tsvangirayi chastised the elections and filed lawsuits against the “harmonized elections” which he later withdrew.

In 2017 Mugabe's ZANU-PF started to loom with factional disputes that saw Mugabe losing his grip. On that notion, Tsvangirayi worked hand in hand with some of the ZANU-PF cadres and the masses of Zimbabwe to have Mugabe recalled from his office and he proved to be of fundamental aspect in the resignation of Mugabe in December 2017.

Although Tsvangirayi didn't get to hold the presidential office of Zimbabwe he will ever be remembered as the one gallant son that gave birth to opposition politics in Zimbabwe and foremost, to the demise of the political career of the Mugabe dynasty.

Rest in peace Save!


- Daniel Itai

Tags: Tsvangirai, MDC, legacy,
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