Gilbert Nyambabvu

Nyambabvu is the deputy editor of New He is a keen football fan (read Manchester United) and reads classics to stay sane

Now they say Tsvangirai can be our Clinton

Sharp contrast … Bill Clinton and Morgan Tsvangirai

A RESPECTED colleague and long-standing friend recently subjected me to an angry harangue for suggesting that Morgan Tsvangirai’s sexual wassails are proof that the MDC-T leader cannot be trusted with the leadership of this country. I was told to get serious and stop labouring an argument long since rendered silly and nonsensical by Bill Clinton who, the chap added, left behind a growing US economy and still enjoys record approval ratings with the American public despite engaging in, shall we say, productive decadence while in office.

But how does one suggest that Tsvangirai could be our Clinton and still pretend that they are not being equally silly and nonsensical? In all fairness, surrogates of his cause are entitled to their love for Tsvangirai but they do not need to offend the 42nd President of the US merely to flatter the MDC-T leader. The very suggestion is a poor joke which is pointless and not funny. This is the sort of senseless and mischievous hyperbole we got from Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard who likened the MDC-T leader to Nelson Mandela and Burmese pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Indeed if the Clinton experience was transferable, then Jacob Zuma – a very local example of a bed hopper – would be doing a better job of running the South African economy. Honestly, you’d have to be a hopeless moron to see any more parallels between Clinton and Tsvangirai (and Zuma for that matter) beyond their shared belief in sexual liberation and an arrogant disdain for conjugal felicity.

The MDC-T leader woefully lacks – after more than ten whole years of trying – any useful grasp of the substance and detail of the whole cosmology of issues related to governance, stuff that comes with little effort to the likes of Clinton. Yes, when Tsvangirai opens his zip, Liz and Locardia do sizzle with anticipatory delight, but all thinking citizens waiting for deliverance from Zanu PF’s corrupt regime suffer a collective cringe each time the man opens his mouth. You don’t need to be a malcontent to point this out.

Two recent examples of his open-mouth and shut-mind tendencies immediately come to mind. While in the US to attend the Democratic Party convention, the MDC-T leader gave an interview to VOA’s Violet Gonda – who, surely, cannot be described as an enemy of his cause (I suspect the good lady will be wanting a word over the suggestion). And, when responding to accusations that he had neglected key government business back home to go globe-trotting, Tsvangirai said anybody making the allegation should be brave enough to say the same of President Robert Mugabe who was also attending a Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Iran at about the same time. But how do you equate a political party event with a summit of state parties and still expect to be taken seriously?

Yet there was more. Gonda rightly challenged him over reports of corruption among MDC-T officials and a puzzled Tsvangirai asked, ‘But who isn’t corrupt?’ Now, help us here, ye defenders of this man who would be our salvation. Are we to take it that it is all dandy for MDC-T officials to be corrupt simply because their rivals are just as crooked? So, in Tsvangirai’s view, we should replace corrupt people in Zanu PF with yet more thieves from the MDC-T?

Clearly, the myopic thinking behind his response to Gonda’s probing was along the lines of the infamous line, perhaps erroneously attributed to a late politician, that ‘if Zambia did it, then we can also did it!’, and that, Cde Prime Minister, is beyond ridiculous.

Still, the MDC-T leader was to make the same point again when he introduced his new wife to MDC-T supporters after their, eh, non-wedding a couple of weeks previously. Clearly annoyed at being roundly pilloried by both the public and private media over alleged affairs with several women, Tsvangirai complained that many among his rivals had more than one wife, adding that others had even taken other men’s spouses. He concluded by demanding, ‘so what is my issue?’ Really, Cde Prime Minister?!

Anyway, the fact of the matter is that there is not a thinking person in the MDC-T who does not agree that the party could do better for a leader, and the braver among the lot quit the party in disgust back in 2005. The opportunists who remain argue that, to his credit, Tsvangirai is brave and, more significantly, very popular. Well, regarding popularity, Mukadota was also pretty well liked generally, but that did not mean he could be president. As for bravery, you could say the same about Joseph Chinotimba who we are told fought in the war of liberation.

But if you happen to be among the many who doubt that Chinotimba ever fired a gun in anger, you cannot, however, discount the role he played in reforming our judiciary. Armed with a straw hat and his unruly beard, Chinos hounded whole justices into early retirement by simply showing up at the windows of their hallowed chambers every day until they got the point. Surely, that was an act of bravery, but that quality alone cannot qualify him for the Presidency.

Indeed, if the MDC-T chose to be honest with themselves, they will admit that there are many others who can do the job of leading that party, and potentially the country, better and without requiring the sort of problematic handholding the Americans discovered would always be necessary with Tsvangirai. Young Chamisa, for one, recognises the sheer enormity of the task and is doing a decent job of preparing himself, something Tsvangirai never considered necessary.

But to get back to my colleague’s angry retort, quite where the gentleman friend gets the idea that I ever sought to make a serious point regarding Tsvangirai and his legendary womanising baffles the mind. Ordinary folk like me do not do serious for simple reason that we lack the competence. You want serious stuff, you read Tafataona Pasipaipa Mahoso or Nathaniel Manheru. Even so, I refuse to accept the suggestion that all writing should be burdened with the requirement to be serious, because, then, life would an absolute bore and we would all die of ennui.

The article my colleague took issue with was just some self-indulgent mischief making at the expense of our Prime Minister. We should be able to laugh at our leaders when they make asses of themselves, ignoring the eleventh commandment’s dictum that ‘thou shall not be caught’. After all, what are they if not a bunch of glorified freeloaders who refuse to do an honest day’s work and live off taxes forcibly wrung from the poor, while pretending to be working for their collective betterment. In fact, when you think about it, and yes seriously, you cannot totally fault the view taken by the loony fringe of the American right, that all governments should die.