By Bernard Bwoni
31st July 2013 was a defining and watershed moment in the history of Zimbabwe. The country held peaceful and democratic elections under the new constitution, yet another milestone and extraordinary moment in the history of the country. The elections saw the end of the contentious Government of National Unity and saw the overdue re-emergence of the revolutionary party to put into place its potent people orientated policies. The elections were won decisively, freely and fairly and even the then MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti was honest and conceded that they lost because they were ill-prepared, lacked a convincing strategy and lost to the well-oiled ZANU-PF party. The revolutionary party won two thirds of the majority and has embarked on a country and continent-defining programme. The elections were widely endorsed by the African election observers from SADC, AU and COMESA as free, fair and credible and instantly condemned by the EU and USA who did not participate in the monitoring of the elections.
The ruling party forged ahead putting into place the details of their election manifesto into place. The economic blueprint, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) was presented to the country to provide clarity and guidance on mapping a way forward. Under the provisions of the Zim-Asset framework there is clarity in terms of national and economic direction. There are four clear clusters of food security, nutrition, social services and eradication of poverty, and from these there are subsectors such as value addition and beneficiation, infrastructure development and others. These clusters provide guidance and direction on how the revolutionary party will be proceeding in the economic transformation of Zimbabwe.
Fast forward to 25th August 2014, a few days before the anniversary of the 31st July 2013 elections, along comes one Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and the venue is Chatham House in London. The expectations were high as Tsvangirai was coming to historically expected home of the most passionate of Tsvangirai’s supporters. Well, so we all thought. The usually eager and celebrity-creating British media was uncharacteristically mute about Tsvangirai’s visit. There was no fanfare, there was no tea at Number 10 Downing Street with Mr Cameron and there was no pass out parade at Buckingham Palace in honor of this nearly Nobel Prize winner. Well he did manage to shake hands with the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and not many, even in Birmingham have heard of him. There were some claims that he turned down an invitation to appear on the BBC’s Hard Talk for fear of being given a hard time about the disintegration of the regime change project and the election loss in 2013. Well if you believe that then cows can fly. But the bottom-line is that Morgan Tsvangirai was totally left out in the cold by the British media, British politics and relevant stakeholders to the regime-change agenda. Tsvangirai’s visit was a non-event; even Ras Pombi drew double the crowd that attended the MDC-T leader’s rally in Birmingham.
The UK has been the Centre of opposition politics since the onset of the regime-change agenda and their supporters have been more prominent. The expectation was that the venue is Birmingham was going to overflowing with supporters from all Counties but in fact the venue was as empty as Tsvangirai's pockets. The Birmingham Gala was attended by a measly 97 strong crowd, most who were from his entourage and MDC-T UK Officials. The dinner was £20 per head and if you do your mathematics right factoring in non-paying delegates, cost of venue and other overheads then it is highly likely no amount of money was raised from this social function. In fact there is a high likelihood of a loss having been made. As stated before the venue was as empty as his party’s pockets.
The progressive and potent ZANU-PF UK chapter has been drawing way bigger crowds than Mr Tsvangirai’s hyped much ado about nothing London show. The UK which has traditionally been seen as a predominantly opposition fortress has been witnessing some statistically significant changes in Zimbabwean political demographics. At a time when MDC-T UK support has been rapidly shrinking, there has been a sudden surge in ZANU-PF support in the UK. The UK chapter of ZANUPF has seen several branches being launched country-wide and has also gone international with the Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX) launch in Amsterdam recently. More branches are earmarked for the mainland UK counties and offshore for the responsive and people-focused ZANUPF in the UK. The demand for ZANUPF cards and registration in the UK has gone viral. The difference between the two political outfits, ZANUPF-UK and MDC-T UK is that the former focuses precisely on policy, people orientated policies and there is clarity in terms of strategy and goals whilst the latter (MDC-T) focuses on demonizing the former (ZANUPF).
Tsvangirai’s London trip was an inspiration to none, a hollow and pointless exercise. He started off his London ordeal with a lifeless speech at the Chatham House Think-tank. The address at Chatham House was predominantly a whinge about what the government is not doing and no genuine attempt at presenting a shadow strategy to the country’s economic challenges.