Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai

Tafara Shumba Correspondent
Upon learning that Mr Morgan Tsvangirai is a leader of a Zimbabwean opposition party going by the name “Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),” one is tempted to conclude that the man is a fighter for democracy, a real democrat. The term “democratic” in the name of this party is a real misnomer. MDC-T as a party does not live what it preaches.

It is a party with a leader whose manners are at variance with the principles of a democratic movement.

It is a party with a bunch of “democrats” devoid of the very essence of democracy.

For this reason, the real democrats have since jumped ship whose destination is not known.

Reports that Mr Tsvangirai has banned his party members from using social media only serve to prove his autocratic leadership.

It is good that even members of his party and those of allied organisations have voiced their concern on the man’s blundering.

It is beginning to dawn on them that they have a tyranny at their helm.

Welcome to the world of reality gentle people.

This is exactly what we have been saying all along.

Mr Tsvangirai is a real enemy of democracy and the media in particular.

This is not the first time he has threatened media freedom.

During the launch of his party’s national policy in May 2013, Mr Tsvangirai threatened media houses that wrote negatively about him and his party.

He said those media houses risked closure should he prevail in the July election.

“You can’t have a newspaper with six articles saying Tsvangira this, Tsvangirai that. Everyday! Regai vakadaro. But musi umwe gava richadambura musungo. That kind of a media has no future in a democratic Zimbabwe. I want to tell you this, muchadya izvozvo,” said Tsvangirai in a veiled threat to the State media.

If he was a level-headed leader, he would not have been selective in his attack.

However, for him, the media are bad only when they write negatively about him and are good when they demonise political rivals.

That is not the duty of the media to write only what a particular political group wants to hear and read.

The private media dedicate acres of space to stories that malign the President of this republic without receiving any such threats.

This is despite that the President wields the powers to cause the closure of the rabid media.

However, President Mugabe upholds democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution, which, ironically, Mr Tsvangirai generously prescribes to others.

A reporter with the Zimbabwe Independent, Hebert Moyo, was nearly killed by MDC-T youths at the party’s headquarters in June 2013.

Moyo was covering a demonstration by party members who were protesting against undemocratic imposition of candidates in Sunningdale.

It is disgraceful that a party that claims to respect, embrace and uphold media freedom, attacked a journalist who was doing his work.

After all, the journalist was providing a collaborative service in the fight for democracy.

Zimbabwe Mail photographer Watson Ofumeli was also attacked by MDC-T youths in the full glare of Mr Tsvangirai.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) condemned the attack and demanded a formal apology from the party leadership.

Only ZUJ knows if that apology came.

The nation assumed Mr Tsvangirai would act on this issue and bring to account the spineless perpetrators of this mindless viciousness.

Alas, he chose to be mum, a choice that exposed his condonation of media attacks.

Last week, social media were awash with graphics that glorified and celebrated the near fall of President Mugabe. Although it was much ado about nothing, President Mugabe never entertained the thought of banning the use of social media.

Mr Tsvangirai fails to appreciate that he threw himself into public life by pretending to fight for democracy.

Whatever he does is newsworthy and he is ever under scrutiny as people want to understand the person they want to invest their votes in.

Those who manage his media relations should advise him that it is within the media’s democratic rights to cover prominent people like him.

Thus, he must either develop a thick skin or ship out of the political front. He must learn to respond to media criticism with facts rather than with threats. This is the reason why he has Luke Tamborinyoka and Obert Gutu around him.

Threats will only exacerbate the situation.

It reminds me of an article where MISA was alleging that there were still some laws that hinder the enjoyment of rights such as media freedom, freedom of expression, and citizens’ right to access to information, that are provided for in the new constitution.

MISA listed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), Official Secrets Act and Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act, as some of the laws whose provisions hinder the enjoyment of such rights.

MISA must also include Mr Tsvangirai and his party as some of the elements in the country whose tyrannical tendencies are ultra vires the media freedom and the Constitution in general. The nation is very apprehensive about the political leader to emerge out of Mr Tsvangirai.

He gives such radical directives when he is a mere opposition leader with no power to enforce such regulations. What will become of him with all the state apparatus under his command?

As Job Sikhala once aptly noted, surely people will perish under Mr Tsvangirai’s ruler-ship.

The undemocratic threat to media freedom displayed by Mr Tsvangirai is only a microcosm of what awaits Zimbabweans should he miraculously become the president of this country.

He has threatened almost every political rival with unspecified action upon his ascension to presidency.

Mr Tsvangirai threatened chiefs for their democratic rights to support a political party of their taste.

A democrat does not persecute people he intends to rule, over their democratic rights to choose a political party. He forgets that chiefs are also humans who are entitled to vote for a political leader and party with an ideology that is compatible with their aspirations.

He also threatened the service chiefs whom he perceived to be partisan. A democrat does not behave in such a fashion. He even elbowed out some senior officials of his party because of his despotism.

After all is said and done, Tsvangirai was never a suitable candidate to lead this nation and time has proved that beyond reasonable doubt.