He nearly snatched the crown. But if the omens are any guide, Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's opposition leader much loved by Britain and its allies, may never see the inside of State House. By his own reckoning, even the British are turning against him. And his treason trial is on this month. Baffour Ankomah, just back from Harare, reports.
"Morgan Tsvangirai is finished," Dr Ibbo Mandaza, a former Zimbabwean cabinet minister now a trusted political commentator, boldly proclaimed to New African five days before Christmas. There are some brave people in Zimbabwe, and Dr Mandaza is one. For starters, he was the only one bold enough, against the public mood in Harare, to forecast the results of last March's presidential elections two weeks before it happened--and got it right! Give or take a few points, his figures (of 60% for Mugabe, 40% for Morgan) were almost dead on. The official results were 56.2% for Mugabe, 41.9% for Morgan. After the official results were known, even Dr Mandaza's arch opponents took their hats off in congratulation for his accuracy." Now, the same man is looking into his crystal ball and divining that the end of the road is nigh for Morgan. We shall see where his forecast goes this time.
Interestingly, Morgan Tsvangirai himself is making--or appears to make--the work easier for Dr Mandaza. On Wednesday 18 December, he called his MDC party's members of parliament to an impromptu meeting at the party's headquarters and told them, on first hearing, "a very strange" story. It took political diviners like Ibbo Mandaza to read between the lines and proclaim it "not very strange" after all.
Morgan told his MPs (he was beaten in his constituency in the June 2000 parliamentary elections and therefore not an MP himself), that as the review of the Commonwealth suspension of Zimbabwe drew near (in March), "we have begun to witness a number of unsettling developments with regards to the way forward".
And what were these "unsettling developments"?
"One Colonel Lionel Dyke and his business associates," Morgan revealed, "are being used to promote an agenda that seeks to legitimise the rogue regime [meaning Mugabe's government; the MDC still refuses to recognise Mugabe's electoral victory a year ago, claiming it was achieved through rigging, a word even the Commonwealth with all its many agendas has refrained from using in its discourse on Zimbabwe]." Morgan continued: "The names of Emmerson Mnangagwa [the speaker of parliament highly tipped as a likely successor to Mugabe], and General Vitalis Zvinavashe [commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces] keep on coming up in this dirty plan which we are told was endorsed by Zanu- PE the British and the South Africans.
"We are, therefore, confronted with this...