Mugabe’s recovery caused by MDC-T corruption

September 11, 2012 at 10:53 am Leave a comment

A RECENT opinion poll that shows support for Zimbabwe’s Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) plummeted in the last two years has thrown the
spotlight on to party corruption and the tumultuous private life of leader
Morgan Tsvangirai.

Commissioned by US think tank Freedom House, the poll shows that only 20 per
cent of Zimbabweans openly say they will vote for the MDC, down from 38 per
cent in 2010, a year after the former opposition party entered a coalition
government with president Robert Mugabe’s party. Support for Zanu-PF has
shot up from ′17 to 31 per cent.

Itai Zimunya of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa in
Johannesburg, said: “What we could be seeing is the second wave of a
politics of protest. We thought that with the MDC coming into power they
were going to reform the state. What we are seeing now is that these people
want to own 20 homes and 12 farms too.”

The MDC acted quickly, last week handing over the names of 12 party
officials suspected of corruption to the police.

Across the country, ordinary Zimbabweans are seeing neighbours who were
elected councillors on a pro-poor MDC ticket becoming rich. “The means are
dubious,” says Mr Zimunya. “People are disgusted.”

Much has been made of the 47 per cent of locals polled who refused to say
who they would vote for, evidence – says the MDC – of the fear that still
characterises Zimbabwe’s political landscape.

But there are signs the former opposition party is no longer the automatic
choice of techno-savvy urban school-leavers, forced to face up to
unemployment levels of more than 80 per cent and the dizzying wealth of the
Harare elite. For some, Mr Mugabe’s indigenisation programme, cloaked in the
mantra of self-help, is “very seductive”.

Ageing but still a dignified and talented orator, Mr Mugabe’s public stature
has been enhanced by his rival’s messy personal life. After a string of
affairs following the death of his wife Susan in a car crash, Mr Tsvangirai
is due to marry 35-year-old Elizabeth Macheka in Harare on Saturday. But a
woman with whom the prime minister contracted a 12-day traditional
“marriage” last November is trying to get a court injunction to block the
wedding. Locadia Tembo is also claiming £9,400 per month in maintenance. She
says Mr Tsvangirai has “other sources of income” besides his official
monthly salary, believed to be less than £2,000.

The MDC leader is unlikely to be replaced before elections and analysts
insist he is still the most popular official in the party. But secretary
general Tendai Biti said in an opinion piece last week the MDC knew it had
to “wake up and work for the support of Zimbabweans”.

It may not have much time. The Supreme Court recently gave Mr Mugabe until 1
October to set a date for three parliamentary by-elections. Zanu-PF
hardliners are now pushing the president to instead set a date for general
elections – without first holding a referendum on a new constitution as
stipulated by the coalition deal. Real change, it seems, is still a long way
off –


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