By Tichaona sibanda
8 October 2010
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s strong rebuke of Robert Mugabe on Thursday has struck a chord with his party supporters, who were increasingly getting worried about his defence of the ZANU PF President.
A number of political analysts have said the outburst by Tsvangirai may have signaled the ‘reinvention’ of the man who caused Mugabe a lot of discomfort before he agreed to join the unity government.
The Prime Minister’s verbal salvo was apparently prompted by Mugabe’s unilateral appointment on Sunday of provincial governors from ZANU PF to serve another term, in violation of the GPA.
‘In the last couple of months people were seeing a different Tsvangirai who was warming up to Mugabe, which was unfortunate. He was over-praising his opponent which shouldn’t have been his role,’ Clifford Mashiri, a political analyst said.
For over a year the MDC leader has diplomatically avoided attacking Mugabe in the hope that the two rival leaders could govern together. Lately Tsvangirai even voiced some praise for Mugabe, a move that shocked many of his faithful. But at a news conference in Harare on Thursday Tsvangirai admitted that he had defended Mugabe at his own cost, politically.
‘What Tsvangirai did yesterday (Thursday) will help him revive his flagging fortunes after months of trying to defend an inclusive government that is hamstrung and not working. He should stick to his guns and not leave it as a statement. The MDC should follow up on the threats and not recognize all the unilateral appointments made by Mugabe,’ Mashiri added.
The tough-on-Mugabe stance that Tsvangirai built his reputation on during his time as opposition leader appears to be resonating again, following his news conference. Political commentator Luke Zunga said Tsvangirai had, to his detriment, given the impression to SADC and the rest of the world that there was stability in Zimbabwe, when it was not the case.
‘Yes the stability is there because he’s not been making enough noise. He’s allowed Mugabe to do what he wants because he rarely challenges him like what he did yesterday (Thursday). He has to stand up and say this is not working,’ Zunga said.
‘I’m glad that he’s getting angry. He must be angry more often than he’s been doing. His supporters want to see that kind of defiance, the kind of fight that is going to adjust the powerbase in the inclusive government. If he does this more often ZANU PF will soon recognize there is another bull standing in their way, just like what he was before joining Mugabe in this government,’
Zunga said Tsvangirai, as head of government, had powers to instruct the treasury to stop paying the salaries of those whose appointments are in dispute, including the recently reappointed governors.
‘This is when a real fight with Mugabe begins. It is the only way to show SADC and the world that there is a problem with a partner in the government who is defying the law and flaunting the constitution,’ Zunga said.
The SADC leaders pressed Tsvangirai to share power with Mugabe 18 months ago, after a disputed election in which Tsvangirai won more votes than Mugabe in the first round. Now Tsvangirai is asking them to put pressure on Mugabe to abide by the agreement that formed the coalition government.