The Comeback Of Morgan Tsvangirai
Harare, Zimbabwe, 01 November 2009
The massive and prolonged power cuts that are sweeping through the country at the moment are working to Morgan Tsvangirai's advantage and against Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF
It appears most people are unaware that ZESA announced massive power disruptions for the next two weeks as they do repairs at one of the power stations in Zimbabwe.
Instead, almost to a person, the people I spoke to yesterday all connected the power cuts with the "disengagement" of Morgan Tsvangirai from government. In the last few weeks, power supplies had improved a lot in the capital, especially in the high-density areas, the townships.
That the power cuts are regaining their intensity now, when the MDC-T has decided to pull out of government partially (an action most people fail to understand and think of as a complete pull-out from Inclusive Government itself), confirms to people that ZANU PF is not only incompetent to be left to run the country by itself, but also that it was only because Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC were in government that power supplies had started to improve.
In Glen Norah, for instance, as people stood around their cooking fires and at the shops, all I could hear was that "Baba vaChatunga havazvigone izvi, Morgiza (Morgan Tsvangirai) ndiye anga ava kumbotiona" - meaning " Chatunga's father (Mugabe), is not up to the job, Morgan Tsvangirai was the one who had started looking after us..."
To most people, it is not mere coincidence that, as Morgan Tsvangirai pulls out of dealing with Mugabe, electricity and water go back to being a problem. These were the areas were, although not back to being efficient, they had started to see a marked improvement in service delivery.
The conclusion is that MDC people were the ones who were ensuring that power supplies flow. Now that they are gone (according to how people see it), there only remains incompetent ZANU PF appointees and beneficiaries of patronage who have no clue how to do their jobs so that power supplies and water supplies become more reliable.
Of course, the truth is rather different. We all know that ZESA announced last week that Zimbabwe should brace itself for massive power cuts because of repairs that needed to be carried out at one of ZESA's power stations in order to improve power supplies.
But this message was simply flighted in the State media, which not many people can afford to buy, at US$1 per copy. So the message did not get to the people.
So, Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T, by default, get credit for something they had no control over. But it is still credit nevertheless, and works only to reinforce in people's minds that Mugabe and his people are not only uncaring, but also vindictive towards people they see as not supporting them.
ZANU PF propaganda, concerned only with hurling insults at its opponents, appears powerless to stop this perception. The party has lost all credibility.
What I do know, however, is that Zimbabweans have very short memories, something even Tsvangirai has used to his advantage. So, if things get back to normal after two weeks, all this will be forgotten and if, by then, Tsvangirai is still "disengaged" from cabinet, then we might start seeing a different mood amongst the people.