Former Zanu PF bigwig and leader of pressure group Youth Advocacy for Reform and Democracy (Yard), Temba Mliswa, has reiterated his strong belief that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will once again “easily beat” President Robert Mugabe in the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections if they are free and fair.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, the garrulous former Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland West and Hurungwe West legislator — who swears that he is not an MDC supporter — also said Tsvangirai was the only opposition figure who had the requisite “appeal, support and capacity” to dethrone Mugabe and Zanu PF from power.
Mliswa said contrary to the view of some commentators who had “erroneously concluded” that Tsvangirai was finished politically, the former trade union leader had not lost any ground since Zimbabwe’s hotly-disputed elections in 2013 which were controversially won by Mugabe and Zanu PF.
“Tsvangirai is the man. He is the right person at the right time, and with the right message to take on Zanu PF with his massive support. Even those in Zanu PF readily admitted that he is still a powerful force after last week’s demonstration.
“All those people who do not believe that he has the numbers are insane. Tsvangirai and the MDC did very well by organising that (Harare) demonstration and it was good that the courts allowed the demonstration,” he said.
Mliswa, who is energetically lobbying Zimbabwean youths to participate in the 2018 polls in numbers through Yard, said the reality that some people often wanted to expediently wish away was that Zimbabwean politics was “a game of numbers”.
“The statistics are there. There is no other politician in Zimbabwe who has single-handedly got a million votes other than Morgan. Zimbabwean politics is about numbers.
“The problem is that some politicians and opinion makers try to wish this away. Mugabe has support in rural areas and Morgan has massive support in urban areas,” he said.
“Most of the people who criticise Morgan are in the middle class, and are just armchair critics on social media and other platforms. Unfortunately, social media does not vote. For example, those in the rural areas do not have smart phones, let alone money to buy airtime.
“Morgan’s support has been consistent since 2008. We must not be fooled by what happened during last year’s by-elections where Zanu PF acted in a fashion similar to playing a football match alone, and went on to declare itself winner,” he added.
Mliswa also showered praises on Tsvangirai whom he described as “a practical man as opposed to some political intellectuals”.
“The struggle is not just about intellect. Mugabe is an intellect but look where he has taken the country,” he said.
Mliswa’s comments come after Tsvangirai led a massive MDC protest march in Harare last Thursday, which the party dubbed the “mother of all demonstrations”.
Among some of the issues that the MDC was demonstrating against included Zanu PF’s failure to fulfil its promise to create 2, 2 million new jobs by 2018, as espoused in its pie-in-the-sky 2013 election manifesto, as well as a demand for answers following Mugabe’s recent claim that $15 billion worth of diamonds had been lost in the Chiadzwa diamond mining fields.
Since Zanu PF controversially retained power in 2013, the country has been on a downward spiral, with the economy bleeding hundreds of thousands of badly-needed jobs and social service delivery hitting an all-time low.
This is not the first time that Mliswa has given Tsvangirai a ringing endorsement. Earlier this year, he also similarly predicted that the former prime minister in the government of national unity would “once again win the 2018 elections” — even if he did not reach an electoral pact with former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
He also said then that Tsvangirai was currently having it his way in areas that were hitherto seen as Mugabe’s fortresses because war veterans who used to back the nonagenarian were angry that they had been badly let down by him.
“The only people who could stop Tsvangirai are war veterans and all indications are that Tsvangirai will win the elections again in 2018 without the need for a coalition with Mujuru’s People First,” Mliswa said.
He added that without war veterans campaigning for Mugabe, Zanu PF had no capacity to do so “and that will translate to a peaceful election, as the margin of terror that the ruling party has been depending on will disappear”.
Mliswa also said the former freedom fighters’ political allegiance was now shared among Mujuru, Mnangagwa and the G40 camp — a situation which he said made it difficult for them to be a factor in the 2018 elections.
Mliswa said the other factor that would most likely work in Tsvangirai’s favour was the fact that Mujuru and her allies had “a tainted past and will have difficulty in convincing the electorate that they have repented”.
“If they had resigned like what Nkosana Moyo and Nathan Shamuyarira did, they would have no problems getting people behind them. Worse still for them, people out there still sympathise with Tsvangirai that he was not given the chance to take power when he won elections in 2008,” he said.
Late last year, Mliswa also said Mugabe had become his party’s common enemy, as warring factions jostled to succeed him.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News, he said Mugabe was becoming unpopular within his party because of his criticism of war veterans and turning a blind eye to corruption.
He also said Mugabe’s recent castigation of the security sector was hypocritical, adding that the nonagenarian had only served to empower the opposition by dividing his party through reckless statements that savaged war veterans.
“He is against the war veterans, he is also equally pushing away (embattled Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa. He went on to blast war veterans leader (Christopher) Mutsvangwa for petty issues.
“This is the time for war veterans to come together. This is the time they must unite. What happened to Mujuru is what is happening to Mnangagwa,” the former football fitness trainer said.