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Tsvangirai-s 2013 electoral albatross
Rejoice Ngwenya
April 20, 2012

Iconic film-maker Animal Planet offers valuable lessons on African dictators. Even the largest of all predators, the lion, has its own pound-for-pound adversary - the buffalo bull. I insist that benevolent dictator Angola-s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, 'obsolete- monarch King Mswati III of Swaziland and Zimbabwe-s 'ageless- Robert Mugabe will inevitably crumble under the wrath of 'Ubuntu Spring- democratic Tsunami. Zimbabwe, though, faces a unique challenge: desisting from vengeance while neutralising Mugabe-s cunning systemic remnants of patronage long after his departure.

A perfect example of this dichotomy is Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo who basks in an aura of statutory infallibility, exploiting the Urban Councils Act to unashamedly entrench ZANU-PF interests. His repertoire of directives compels municipalities to accept so-called special councillors, nullify council resolutions, suspend and dismiss councillors. The biggest casualty of this rabidly partisan behaviour is the Morgan Tsvangirai-controlled urban councils. Even if the unintended consequence is that MDC-T concocts a perfect excuse for failure, I have a slightly different testimony.

When we conjured up the concept of 'democratic councils forum- with progressive 'mayoral galácticos- Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, Jessie Majome, Elias Mudzuri, Zinti Mkandla, Alois Chaimiti, Sesel Zvidzai, Misheck Shoko et al in the early 2000s, we wanted a mayoral 'think tank- that creates an ideal model of local governance excellence. We were out to prove that MDC could run national government as well as it [had] run councils. The Chombo factor though prevalent, our councils - especially Bulawayo remained top performers.

As of now this legacy of MDC-T 'dominating urban councils- is an electoral albatross around Tsvangirai-s neck. There are perceptions - not without justification - that the spate of alleged corruption in Harare, Chitungwiza and Mutare are of MDC-T-s own making. Many roads remain impassable as informal traders clutter empty spaces. Harare mayor Much Masunda concedes that only 40 percent of Harare residents have access to daily doses of portable water never mind the 2,800 cases of typhoid reported in February. Mountains of uncollected garbage and rivers of sewage are now 'acceptable- as integral part of MDC-T modern-day local governance.

Departmental head in the Harare City Council, Charles Nyatsuro concedes that ZANU-PF-s terror group Chipangano dominates some aspects of MDC-T local authority responsibility. MP Piniel Denga claims his constituency is controlled by the ZANU PF youths as alleged vigilantes headed by ZANU-PF Harare South legislator Hubert Nyanhongo molest citizens in Mbare and Highfields. Chitungwiza mayor Philemon Chipiyo claims he was 'prevented- from disciplining his errant team while Farai Nyandoro of Marondera has a bank full of excuses why Marondera labours under a burden of ZANU-PF excess human baggage. Mutare Mayor Brian James of Mutare is a reluctant recipient of Chombo-s wrath, not to mention 'special councillors- appointed to allegedly complement skills and competencies 'lacking- in Bulawayo council.

There is consensus that the predatory Chombo is not qualified to dispense governance justice what with allegations of corruption himself, not least by those that he seeks to persecute. Of late, the Denford Chirindo headed Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has been sniffing for 'property contraband- around Chombo-s empire. Councillor Warship Dumba set off the alarms in an audit "which fingered Chombo in alleged corrupt land deals."

If Tsvangirai claims of being a 'people-s person- are credible, then he must apply his leverage to start a legitimate nationwide anti-Chombo civic rebellion. MDC-T councillors themselves are obsessed with material accumulation, to the extent that service delivery is now bullet ten on their agenda. In order to win Election 2013, Tsvangirai can only be saved by an 'Ubuntu Spring- type popular uprising that deals a political mortal blow to ZANU-PF patronage. Is he the Buffalo Bull?

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