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Reasons why Tsvangirai's MDC lost the 2013 elections

09 April 2014, 18:13
Ever since the heavy thumping of the MDC-T in the July 2013 harmonised elections, its leaders have cried foul and came up with at times, hugely creative and dramatic reasons on why the party lost.

The blame was squarely put on Zanu-PF's shoulders as if winning an election is now a crime. MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai made sensational claims of vote rigging but failed to provide a single iota of evidence to prove their case.

Contrary to Tsvangirai's claims of election rigging and such nonsense, the unvarnished truth is that MDC-T lost the elections as a result of confused party ideologies, intra-party power struggles, and the moral decadence of its leaders among other reasons that cannot be exhausted in this article.

Simply put, even after 15 years in existence, MDC-T is still politically immature.

To start with, the MDC-T deviated from its original mandate that had drawn the people's support and sympathy. Its founding principles were anchored on workers' interests. Initially the MDC-T claimed to be a cluster of radical forces which included Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), and a broad based coalition of Churches, Women's groups like Women Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), Students' Union groups ZINASU, and Civil Society organisations.

Upon inception of the Inclusive Government which started on February 11, 2009 when the MDC-T leader, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, was sworn-in as the Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the party lost touch with realities that kept them in tandem with labour concerns as its critical partners in the country.

Throughout the full life cycle of the Inclusive Government from February 11, 2009 to June 29, 2013, the MDC-T government officials failed to use their influence to ensure that labour demands were met. Civil servants did not manage to get living salaries, and they continued to languish in abject poverty with salaries that fell far below the datum line peg. Their conditions of service remained pathetic as well.

What made the situation fatal for the MDC-T is the fact they headed the Finance Ministry as well as the Labour Ministry. This, the civil servants, who make up the bulk of the electorate and have a lot of influence on the same electorate  remembered when time came, how to cast their votes in the July 2013 elections.

Another blow to MDC-T was the continued existence of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe that curtailed economic development. Tsvangirai's promise to turn around the economy in 90 days if he got into government did not come to pass.

When the elections came in 2013, MDC-T party leaders failed to fully articulate the party's election manifesto, which hinged on- Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and the Environment (JUICE). They themselves appeared confounded by the complex concept and this confusion trickled down to their supporters effectively rendering them manifesto-less come election time.

In one press statement, the party's estranged Secretary General, Tendai Biti, even admitted, "JUICE was so complicated such that the electorate struggled to understand it."

 Furthermore, the party expounded unrealistic populist policies that did not meet with the party's desires of winning the election.      

Poor campaigning strategies is also another contributing factor in the party's poor performance.

While Zanu-PF was busy going door –to-door canvassing for support and making sure its supporters were registered, the faceless Facebook character, "Baba Jukwa" misled MDC-T and its supporters by giving them a false sense of election security.

Tsvangirai and his cohorts left Baba Jukwa to campaign for them on social media while they were busy accumulating wealth for their own interests.  This exposed MDC-T's insensitivity to the wishes of the people, paving way for Zanu-PF to work extra hard in mass mobilization before elections leading to its resounding victory.

MDC-T party leaders are wholly answerable for making the fundamental blunders that resulted in their embarrassing loss in the 2013 elections.

Instead of bowing to the wishes of the people whose interest they claimed to represent, party leaders imposed their unpopular cronies on the electorate. Tsvangirai himself stands accused of imposing candidates to contest in the July 2013 elections despite the fact that they lost in primary elections.

In retaliation to the party leaders' high-handedness, the electorate shunned such candidates opting to give their vote to the more organized Zanu-PF candidates.

Intra-party squabbles, though not apparent at the time, also negatively impacted on the party's election efforts.

MDC-T Deputy Treasurer Elton Mangoma, who is now a member of the party's renegade "leadership renewal team", failed to avail enough funds for campaign purposes in an effort to sabotage Tsvangirai's efforts.

As a result, the MDC-T was not able to oil the campaign and was subsequently overshadowed by Zanu-PF whose party regalia and campaign material was awash throughout the country. With hindsight, one can see that Elton Mangoma was already laying the ground for his "leadership renewal" campaign that is now in full throttle.

The lack of financial resources was further compounded by the withdrawal of key partners like the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and western donors. This left the MDC-T under funded.

The party's Secretary General, another renegade, Tendai Biti, also failed to mobilize supporters. Biti, then financial minister, claimed that he had a complicated task of handling public finance and was failing to balance the party's business and his ministerial mandate.    

Lastly, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai's promiscuous streak and public blunders contributed also to the dismal defeat of the party.

Tsvangirai would have been well informed to take a leaf from President Robert Mugabe's book of leadership acumen and charisma and note how a leader interacts with the electorate.

Instead, basket-mouthed Tsvangirai, insulted traditional leaders, civil servants and the ordinary people willy-nilly and his fellow party leaders foolishly followed suit.

Tsvangirai is on record threatening to "fix" chiefs as soon as he was elected into office, for daring to support President Mugabe before going on to call members of the esteemed Zimbabwe Republic Police's special constabulary "ndinindamubata". There are numerous other incidents where he fell out of favour with the electorate as a result of his careless utterances.

As if his political inadequacy was not enough, Tsvangirai adopted an "open zip" policy with regards to his romantic life, bedding and discarding numerous women, a trait that did nothing to endear him to the electorate, especially the females.

While Zanu-PF leaders were busy campaigning, Tsvangirai was otherwise engaged in "conquering the seas."

He disregarded with impunity voter surveys conducted by such institutions as Afrobarometer and Freedom House that indicated the party was "haemorrhaging supporters" and chose to cling to undue optimism.

As much as the MDC-T will want to continue being cry babies and ignore the truth that is in front of their noses, Zanu-PF won the July 2013 elections hands-down as a result of their well-crafted manifesto that embodies its wish for the emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe.

Tendai Biti admitted as much while addressing a policy dialogue for the SAPES Trust in March of this year. He was quoted as saying "Zanu in the last election had a very simple message, bhora mugedhi, even a little woman in Chendambuya or Dotito just knew one thing, bhora mugedhi," adding that the MDC-T's message was "perhaps too sophisticated".

For MDC-T, it's time to go back to the drawing board, if they still have one.

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