It seems there is no winning way to teach Morgan Tsvangirai to hold his gun straight. He has this weird knack for shooting into his big foot when it’s easier to be aiming for the enemy, and this includes where the war against corruption is concerned. That makes him a bad case for the opposition.
corruptionwatch WITH TAWANDA MAJONI
Tsvangirai, whether one likes it or not, is the face of the opposition. His party, MDC-T, is the strongest and the only one with a chance of removing Zanu PF from power. Naturally, many people still look up to him for salvation.
The problem, though, is that he is offering little hope to citizens heaving under perennial corruption that has reduced them to paupers.
Just last week, Tsvangirai was addressing MDC-T members when a party youth complained that a vocational college in Masvingo was accepting students only recommended by Zanu PF local structures. That, indeed, is bad, albeit common.
But what is worse is the response that the MDC-T boss gave. Instead of blasting the culture of corruption at the college as you would expect, Tsvangirai urged party youths to embed themselves in Zanu PF so as to benefit from prevailing institutional corruption! When election time comes, they must simply vote the party of their choice and spite Zanu PF.
This prescription is based on bizarre thinking. For him, Zanu PF is a useful devil that you can sup with and walk away from when you have to. It doesn’t matter that the food on the table is poisoned. Just eat it since you are hungry and might starve if you don’t. I have serious doubts that Tsvangirai made an attempt to take his brains beyond his skull when he advised his youths to pretend to be Zanu PF supporters in order to benefit from the party’s partisanship.
To start with, he effectively blessed institutional corruption that has become a festering culture within the sitting establishment. He was accepting corruption as a fait accompli instead of a malignance that must be fought.
In other words, Tsvangirai has resigned himself and Zimbabweans to the scourge of corruption that, instead of rebelling against, people must participate in. This is bad for his credibility as a leading politician. People expect him and his party to be fighting corruption, not embracing it.
The opposition naturally loses traction and relevance once it starts accepting the status quo as God-given fate.
Essentially, it is supposed to be fighting for change, not defending or even promoting an undesirable situation.
Once it resigns itself to a prevailing situation, it might just as well join those in power or completely ship out.
There is no way in which one can become a beneficiary of the abuse of institutions and remain clean. The youths, who he is urging to join Zanu PF in order to get places in college, among other benefits, become tainted the moment they do that. Similarly, there is no way in which an individual can incite people to be corrupt and remain clean. In this regard, Tsvangirai is as bad as a father, who tells his children to hide in the neighbour’s garden in order to steal fruits from a community orchard.
Tsvangirai clearly failed to appreciate the possible eventualities that would come with his youths embedding themselves in Zanu PF. It seems he didn’t give a chance to the high likelihood that those youths, once they find the ruling party fruits too sweet, might never want to return to MDC-T. But that doesn’t concern me.
What matters more is the big chance that the youths might actually find Zanu PF corruption too tempting they would start cursing themselves for ever having tried being clean in the first place. They would turn into ravaging ambassadors of corruption such that, even if they returned to their original party, they would make Zanu PF green with envy.
The ruling party presents a rich array of opportunities for corruption that, in addition to admission at colleges, include access to farming inputs, housing and business stands, youth empowerment loans, the willy-nilly invasion of farms and other properties as well jobs for which you never trained.
Imagine what would happen to all the thousands of MDC-T youths, who would, all of a sudden, find themselves swimming in these opportunities. Chances are high that they would never want to let go once they enter this garden of vile plenty. After all, it is always cold for those that enter and then leave Zanu PF. No wonder many lose weight overnight, get sick and die once they get out.
In any case, that wouldn’t be the first time that the main opposition has been associated with corruption. MDC-T councillors and lawmakers have in the past illegally grabbed and sold residential stands, evicted widows from their homes, dipped into the Constituency Development Fund, and so on.
There is no doubt the Zanu PF establishment is rotten from head to tail. As I pointed out last week, President Robert Mugabe’s position on corruption is inconsistent, contradictory and hypocritical. He speaks against corruption when it suits him, and turns a blind eye when it also benefits him. All for his political self-preservation. Some people say he is using proxies to plunder local resources.
His wife, Grace, is taking advantage of her husband’s shifty ways, seizing business partners’ properties without remorse, criminally buying loyalty from hungry villagers with goods grabbed from the customs department and accepting dirty gifts from state enterprises like Zinara.
The well-connected elites get billion-dollar tenders over a cup of coffee in senior civil servants’ offices, big money fraud is spiked for kickbacks and senior politicians divert millions of government dollars in the name of the ruling Zanu PF party. Low ranking party members sell fake residential stands to desperate subalterns and take bribes for council business stands.
When things turn this bad, millions of desperate Zimbabweans turn to the opposition for deliverance. They start hoping that the opposition will help extricate them from the rot both as advocates of political change and when, hopefully, one of the parties takes over. But as things stand, it looks like Zimbabweans’ choices are now limited to the devil and the cliff.
Tawanda Majoni is the national co-ordinator at Information for Development Trust (IDT), a non-profit organisation promoting access to information around public and private sector governance, transparency and accountability and can be contacted on email@example.com