AFRICANGLOBE – Facts are inconvenient things. More than that, they are stubborn. Sadly, the interpreters of fact – humans – are not nearly as reliable. We are subject to shifting emotions, cruel bias, and sometimes plain evil prejudices.
It is these human frailties that often lend the seemingly obvious to imaginative interpretations. It’s a cruel world for the objective man, or woman.
I suffer the incurable curse of a scientific mind. So much so I must always call it as it is, however inconvenient. President Mugabe will certainly win the next election.
Let’s quickly touch on the Freedom House Survey. In 2010, they surveyed the Zimbabwean generality and found that the majority wanted President Mugabe to go. I will remind you that Freedom House is a Washington-based NGO that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights. If Tsvangirai stood a chance of impregnating anyone, it would be these guys. They are in love with our good Prime Minister.
It is with this view of their favourable inclination toward the MDC-T that the results of the same survey in 2012 surprised many by offering quite a different and unexpected set of results. President Mugabe’s support was surging, far outpacing Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai’s MDC had shed 18 percentage points whilst President Mugabe’s party had shot up a comfortable 14 points. If facts are stubborn, then numbers are pure evil.
The MDC-T spin machine went into overdrive offering all manner of explanations. Some more absurd that others. One that gave me a chuckle was the assertion by one MDC-T man claiming that Freedom House was misrepresenting the electorate, this in an effort to assist the MDC-T. The reasoning offered was that if Zanu PF imagined victory was certain, they would then “go to sleep”, leaving the MDC to victoriously march into the State House. Zanu PF would never see it coming. As you can imagine, Jonathan Moyo took great pleasure it dismissing this for the nonsense that it was.
Another desperate argument offered in an effort to contradict these troubling numbers was the fact that 40 percent of respondents had not disclosed their intentions. The MDC-T immediately pounced on this claiming that this 40 percent was made up exclusively of MDC-T supporters who feared expressing their views to the Freedom House interviewers for fear of being beaten up by those nasty Zanu PF hoodlums.
That has a semblance of surface plausibility. But take a closer look and see. What about the 2010 survey that found enormous support for Tsvangirai? Were these MDC-T supporters not afraid to express their views back then? Given the country was just coming out of the 2008 political violence, can we be so credulous as to believe that MDC-T supporters felt safer then than they do now under the Unity Government? Facts are stubborn things.
The productive political question is not if the MDC is losing support, but why.
To fully grasp the current political dynamic, it is important to recognise that the MDC-T electoral base is largely in the urban areas. I do not suggest that they have a vice grip on all us city dwellers, but the fact of it is that they previously far outpaced Zanu PF. At the same time, Zanu PF has tended to do well with the rural vote. These are crucial points. We will come back to this.
When the MDC-T campaigned against Zanu PF before joining government, they had an arsenal of effective ammunition. Zanu PF personified corruption! Zanu PF officials were living in luxury at our expense! We are a government of the people that cares not for ourselves but for the people! We are different. We will be different. And we will certainly have different results!
These were impressively eloquent and seductive slogans. The MDC-T’s support soared. Herein lies the problem. The MDC-T is in government and the potency of these attacks have been considerably diminished.
For example, let’s all offer a quick appreciation for David Coltart. He refused to accept a ministerial top of the range Mercedes Benz. He is the only minister to have taken this principled position. Other MDC ministers jumped into those cars head first. They couldn’t wait. Such was the acquisition frenzy that the MDC nearly tore itself apart over some used double cab trucks that a sympathetic Gideon Gono had offered them to use in their daily activities.
Tendai Biti ordered MDC-T MPs to return the vehicles. The hungry MDC-T MPs showed him the middle finger. It was their time to eat. Imagine a poor man who wins a modest US$50,000 in the lottery. His children have no clothes, no shoes, no bed and no food. If this man immediately buys himself a 12 suits and a US$34,000 truck before seeing to the needs of his children, we would most certainly curse him to his grave.
President Mugabe in a Better Position
In 2009 the Zimbabwean condition was similarly dire. It was a moment when the intelligentsia expected the MDC-T assert its values and embarrass the greedy Zanu PF looters it had previously condemned by refusing to drive luxury vehicles whilst raw sewage flowed. Give us Mazda B1800s, they would have said, much to the delight of a relieved electorate. But no, they jumped in head first.
Should I speak of the corruption within the MDC ranks? Councillors who had taken position immediately set out extensive corruption syndicates, dishing out stands to friends and relatives. Some are currently languishing in prison. Is this the change that Tsvangirai had preached to the point of deafening us?
What of sanctions? All these years the MDC told us there were no sanctions on Zimbabwe and that the only sanctions that existed were targeted at Zanu PF elites. I wonder why Tendai Biti wrote a letter to the US Treasury Secretary, Charles Collyns, begging him to remove sanctions. What sanctions? I thought the MDC position was that these do not exist?