By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
08 April 2014
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s belated efforts to visit the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims show how strategically exposed he is, a political analyst has said.
On Friday Tsvangirai’s spin doctor Luke Tamborinyoka said the ex-Prime Minister had wanted to travel to Chingwizi, where the displaced villagers are camped, to donate clothing and foodstuffs.
However Provincial Affairs Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti reportedly foiled Tsvangirai’s trip, and told him to leave his gifts at government offices in Masvingo.
Tsvangirai subsequently abandoned the trip, which would have come three months after floods at the Tokwe-Mukosi river basin left thousands of families homeless.
Prominent political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said the MDC-T leader should have been one of the first people to visit the flood victims and this would have given Tsvangirai a chance to expose the government’s slow response to the disaster.
Ngwenya said while it is to be expected that ZANU PF will seek to gain political mileage, even from disasters, Tsvangirai also failed to rise to the occasion when he had the opportunity.
The outspoken political analyst said Tsvangirai should not have treated his alleged refusal to visit Chingwizi camp as the be-all and end-all of assisting the needy.
“Tsvangirai knows that in Tsholotsho in Mat South, where his party won, there are other flood victims who are also in need. Why not go there if barred in Masvingo?”
Ngwenya said if the trips are about political mileage, either way Tsvangirai’s profile would have benefited from a confrontation with ZANU PF.
“From the start both Tsvangirai and his team failed to play any role as the disaster unfolded and this again shows how strategically exposed the man is as a leader,” he added.
Some critics questioned Tsvangirai’s wisdom in seeking permission from a ZANU PF functionary in the first place.
UK-based Ndaba Nhuku said by seeking a nod from Bhasikiti, Tsvangirai had deferred and subordinated himself to ZANU PF.
“Suffering MDC-T supporters at Chingwizi will be wondering why their leader hasn’t visited in three months and for them to hear him say he is waiting for Bhasikiti’s permission will not be very reassuring,” Nhuku said.
Commenting on the ZimEye website, Suitable Kajau asked why an aspiring national leader would only acknowledge the existence of a national calamity three months down the line.
“He realizes criticality of issues too late. This militates against his efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with matters,” Kajau.
Political analyst Ngwenya however said it is important for well-wishers to keep donating to the disaster victims because “help is help even if it is delayed.”
But from a moral perspective, visiting the victims now might also mean that he is trying to gain political capital out of it. This puts him exactly in the same category of hypocrisy as ZANU PF,” Ngwenya added.
Bonfirst Dzikira said the MDC-T leader placed himself in an awkward position by seeking Bhasikiti’s permission.
“He should have gone there directly with a couple of journalists and made the donations,” Dzikiti wrote in response to the NewsDay story.
MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told this station last week that there is no legal requirement for Tsvangirai to inform the State of his plans but that they had done so out of courtesy.
On Monday, Bhasikiti refuted the MDC-T’s version of events and “dared” Tsvangirai to deliver his gift to Chingwizi on Tuesday.
The MDC-T however turned down the offer, and said they are in no rush to tour the camp, and will go when they are ready, the NewsDay reported Tuesday.
Harare-based reporter Simon Muchemwa said any national leader would want to speak through actions rather than statements, and urged Tsvangirai to stop being a “cry baby”.
“He should be telling us that he was blocked upon arrival in Masvingo instead of issuing a statement from an office in Harare. So far he hasn’t made any real effort to visit the affected area.
“In any case as Mwonzora said, he did not need to seek clearance and by doing it anyway it’s as if he wanted the government to bar him.
“This was a shortsighted decision and a blunder. If ZANU PF had followed him and barred him when he was already in Masvingo, he would have earned his stripes as a leader and if it is political mileage they want, that would have got it,” Muchemwa added.