The morale of workers and students — the bedrock of MDC-T support — has reached its lowest ebb as they accuse the leadership, now in government, of neglecting them and deviating from the founding values and principles of the party.
Workers and students have accused MDC-T leadership in government of joining the Zanu PF bandwagon to enrich themselves while ignoring their plight.
Government recently doled out US$20 million to buy luxurious vehicles for ministers at a time when workers’ salaries remain pathetically low, clinics remain without enough medicine; schools run without books, while thousands of Zimbabweans need food assistance.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who still claims massive support, has denied he has lost the political will to fight the extravagance in government. But he rose to the defence of the vehicles-for-chefs scheme recently.
“There is a wrong perception in this country that ministers, especially those from the MDC, are now living in luxury,” Tsvangirai said. “Do you want ministers to go around doing government business on bicycles?” questioned Tsvangirai.
But his ministers have each received at least six government vehicles since 2009. “The MDC-T is slowly alienating itself from its support base,” said one political analyst. “Supporters need continual assurance that we are together in the struggle and that should be accompanied by deeds.”
A number of MDC-T councillors have been fingered in corrupt activities and are under investigation. Some have abandoned their constituencies to live in the posh houses they allegedly acquired fraudulently, further angering their supporters.
Political analyst Dewa Mavhinga said the MDC-T, and all political leaders, must strongly guard against the arrogance of power and trappings that come with being in government.
“They must remain committed to the common cause in alliance with the person on the street,” said Mavhinga, a senior official with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), South Africa Office.
MDC-T support base now fragile
Critics said it would be in the best interest of MDC-T to push for early elections before glaring acts of incompetence, corruption and greed are exposed.
Events in the past few months paint a gloomy picture for MDC-T, which could see its support fall drastically if it fails to reshape itself into a pro-worker party that it was at its birth.
This could result in supporters turning against the leadership. But others said despite structural problems which have resulted in factionalism and violence, the party remained a political force to be reckoned with as it was an alternative to Zanu PF, which has lost the support of the majority Zimbabweans.
The absence of another credible party in the country, they said, weighed in favour of MDC-T if polls were to be held anytime. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wants elections to be held only after Zimbabwe has achieved a levelled playing field, but President Robert Mugabe has declared that elections will be held early next year.
Mugabe has accused his rivals of stalling the constitution-making process to prolong the life of the unity government.