While Tsvangirai’s away, spin thugs goes bonkers

Penned as it is by die-hard Zanu (PF) loyalists, it gives an insight into the workings of the mind of a power-crazed monster – intent only upon winning the next election, no matter what.

Tsvangirai’s trip has been a triumph. It marks the welcoming back into the fold of the international community of a pariah state. He has been feted, honoured, saluted and lauded by the world’s most powerful leaders. Much has been made of his personal courage and democratic credentials. Millions have been pledged for humanitarian aid.

But The Herald has done nothing but criticise the trip – making much of the Tsvangirai’s “failure” to fill the state coffers with western money. A recent opinion piece by The Herald’s political editor – The rise of a predatory state – accused Tsvangirai of touring western capitals rather than sorting out the problems at home. It also claims the new government is doing little to get agriculture back on its feet and is putting human rights and democracy ahead of putting food on the table.

“The inclusive government would have us believe that if [Johannes] Tomana (the Attorney General) is fired and [Jestina] Mukoko (a human rights activist) is freed then we will have food on our tables and money in our pockets,” said The Herald. “Where is the state while farmers scrounge around for resources so that they can feed the nation?”

This is a fundamentally flawed argument, say analysts, given that the previous Zanu (PF) government oversaw the destruction of the country’s agricultural production, the collapse of the economy and the ruination of relationships with the west.

They say the constant sniping at Tsvangirai and his officials demonstrates that Zanu (PF) is keener than ever to see the unity government fail.

But why?

Tsvangirai’s trip has raised millions in new money. For obvious reasons, none of this money is going directly into government coffers. This means the Zanu (PF) hawks, whose survival depends on the party patronage system run directly from the Reserve Bank under Gideon Gono, are out of pocket. For Mugabe and his generals, Zimbabwe’s survival has nothing to do with the survival of Zimbabweans.

Therefore Tsvangirai is of no use to them. They successfully used him to regain legitimacy for Mugabe as president of Zimbabwe, and thought they could use him to get the west to withdraw targeted measures against him and his cronies. But it didn’t.

And now, the next election is uppermost in their minds.

So they need to portray Tsvangirai as a failure. The spin is fascinating: Tsvangirai has failed to get money for the new government (because Mugabe continues to refuse to honour the power-sharing agreement they signed in February); Tsvangirai has failed to get sanctions lifted (because Mugabe persists in human rights abuses); Tsvangirai has failed to put food on the table and medicine in the hospitals (because Mugabe maintains a stranglehold on all economic activity through the patronage system); Tsvangirai has failed to attract foreign investment despite swanning about in the global corridors of power (because Mugabe continues with the land invasions and nationalisation of mines and refuse to allow a return to the rule of law).

And so it goes – laughable from a free press vantage point; tragically believable to the relatively unsophisticated voting populace who remain in the country after an estimated four million with any form of education, skill and expertise have voted with their feet.