How Mugabe fooled Tsvangirai

The Zimbabwean – Staff Reporter

4 December 2013

President Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai

President Robert Mugabe deliberately gave MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai a false sense of comfort ahead of the July 31 elections to make him relax and assume that he would win an easy victory, a highly placed source has revealed.

by Staff Reporter

The source, a former MDC-T MP who lost his seat in July, told The Zimbabwean  that Tsvangirai had been given the impression that Zanu (PF) was in tatters and MDC-T would easily win the polls.

“Tsvangirai shared with us tidbits from his confidential discussions with Mugabe. He said Mugabe had told him Zanu (PF) was ill-prepared for elections because of factionalism and it was clear that MDC would win overwhelmingly,” said the source.

“The impression we got from our president was that Mugabe was desperate. Tsvangirai even said Mugabe had pleaded with him for protection for him and his family after the elections, and advised him not to take drastic action against the status quo.”

Mugabe reportedly offered to advise the MDC-T leader when he took over power, even giving him elaborate strategies for the new government, such as retaining acceptable Zanu (PF) figures like Joice Mujuru, engaging security chiefs for their exit packages and maintaining the land “reform” programme but with an audit.

“This persuaded our leader that he was on his way to State House. In fact, a lot of us in the party thought the same. We didn’t see any way in which Zanu (PF) would beat us. Their candidates were hardly campaigning and that to us proved there was chaos in the party.

“Little did we know, however, that Zanu (PF) was busy rigging the elections. We genuinely believed that Mugabe had grown a soft spot for Tsvangirai and was trying to curry favour with us,” he said.

Luke Tamborinyoka, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, dismissed reports of Mugabe leading Tsvangirai down the garden path. “That is mere speculation. If anything like that ever happened, I would have been privy to it,” he said.

During his election campaign, Tsvangirai brushed aside threats that the police would arrest anyone who prematurely announced the election results, saying that could not happen as MDC-T was assured of victory.

“They say they are going to arrest us for announcing the elections outside ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission). How will they do that because, after the elections, some of us will already be at State House, as the new government?” said a confident Tsvangirai at a rally in Chitungwiza.

At the recent burial of his former chief of security, Benson Muchineuta, Tsvangirai told mourners that Mugabe had confided in him that he was afraid to hand over power in Zanu (PF) because factionalism would destroy the party.

The two met regularly over tea, during which they reportedly engaged in confidential discussions.

Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist, said: “MDC-T basked in the sun like it would never sink. They were too relaxed and assumed that they would get victory on a platter. They rested on a dangerous assumption that Zanu (PF) was beyond rescue. If Zanu (PF) rigged, then the MDC has itself to blame because, as part of government, they didn’t do anything to avoid it,” he said recently.

The MDC-T source added that a false sense of security caused the party to accept that a huge number of voters had cast their ballots without appearing on the voters’ roll. There were complaints after the elections that thousands of Zanu (PF) supporters voted more than once by producing voter slips, some of them fake, even though they did not appear on the voters’ roll.

The matter was complicated by the fact that in many cases, polling officers abandoned the traditional practice of scanning voters’ fingers to establish if they had already voted or not.