Job Sikhala, the lawyer for former foreign affairs minister Walter Mzembi, talks to reporters after court proceedings where he said charges against his client were “really ridiculous,” in Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan 6, 2018. (S. Mhofu/VOA)
HARARE – An ailing Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC Alliance can still defeat President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his “reformed” Zanu PF hands down in this year’s eagerly-anticipated harmonised elections, an MDC official has said.
MDC national executive member Job Sikhala told the Daily News this week that if Mnangagwa was to allow a free and fair election, he would be Tsvangirai’s political breakfast.
“Tsvangirai can still blow Ngwena (Mnangagwa’s nickname) out of the water even in his current state of health.
“All things equal, a sick and ailing Tsvangirai, … will defeat a fit Mnangagwa any day in a free and fair contest. In Zambia, a sick and ailing Sata defeated a fit Rupiah Banda when no-one gave him a snowball’s chance in hell.”
But Sikhala together with thousands of opposition supporters might be disappointed.
With just a few months before elections, Tsvangirai, 65, has thrown the MDC Alliance preparations into disarray after hinting on Monday at his possible early retirement, less than two months after his long-time foe former President Robert Mugabe also threw in the towel after a four-decade rule.
Mugabe, 93, resigned after a near-bloodless military intervention in the pre-dawn hours of November 15, 2017 with his deputy, Mnangagwa taking over.
The former president’s resignation had raised hopes for MDC members who felt Tsvangirai would at long last be able to win this year’s presidential elections, something he has over the years since 2002 been denied by Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, who has been in and out of a South African hospital since divulging his illness in 2016 triggered succession debate within the MDC immediately after his Monday announcement with names of two of his three deputies, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri being bandied around as possible replacements.
Sikhala, however, said Tsvangirai’s three deputies Thokozani Khupe, Chamisa and Mudzuri’s brands would be difficult to market in time for the elections. He dismissed them as ‘too small for his boots’.
“I still believe an ailing Morgan Tsvangirai is a better brand than all ambitious people in the MDC put together, so the only solution lies in us praying that he recovers and that God gives him better health,” said Sikhala.
In his New Year’s message soon after Mnangagwa had visited to check on him, Tsvangirai released a statement saying he was “looking at the imminent prospects of us as the older generation leaving the levers of leadership to allow the younger generation to take forward this huge task”.
He added that his decision to appoint two other vice presidents, Mudzuri and Chamisa was not by accident as he was preparing for the future.
“As I have said before, while politicians only think about the next election, true statesmen think about the next generation, for current leaders are only but caretakers for future generations. We do not have any entitlement to lead but we have a duty to serve.
“We must recognise the imperative that new hands, with the full blessing of the people, must take this struggle and this country forward with the destination remaining the same — a society that prides itself for not leaving anyone behind in their pursuit of freedom, prosperity and happiness.
“That is the only lasting legacy and precedence that we must leave to future generations.”
Meanwhile, Sikhala said the MDC was confident of winning the elections as the party covered a lot of ground in voter mobilisation during the ongoing biometric voter registration exercise.
“The party worked extremely hard to have its people registered as voters and I am saying this from an informed position.
“People are not aware that the MDC worked in an extraordinary way, the strategy in deployment that our party silently employed, was amazing.
“I can confidently tell you that the about 70 percent plus of the registered voters today came from the MDC but this is information we will not normally share but that is the truth.” – Daily News