The problem is that despite clear accuracy of his reported comments, ZANU will no doubt counter that Tsvangari is peddling a line fed to him by his supposed masters in the British Government. This risks casting doubt on his motives for some, but perhaps more worryingly risks being interpreted by many ordinary Zimbabweans as evidence that the forthcoming election campaign will be characterised by extreme violence, somewhat like that between the two elections in 2008. ZANU’s grip on power remains outwardly strong, but tensions run below the surface. Mugabe has proved adept at managing these tensions, and many of his closest advisers need him to remain in power for their own protection.
But time is passing. Senior members of the regieme know that the elections in 2011 may be their last chance to retain a firm grip on power. There is, as far as they are concerned, all to play for. Failure is not an option they want to even contemplate.
Tsvangari keeps standing up after being knocked down – politically and physically – by his partners in the unity government. And he should be commended for it. But does he have the organisational skills necessary to marshall his party for another bruising fight which ZANU won’t let him win? Probably not. This apparent change in rhetoric may have more to do with the ascendency of Tendai Biti, the Finance Minister, within the MDC. Biti has the nerve and the management skills to oganise the party. Tsvangari has the bruises and the profile.
For Zimbabwe’s sake, these two need to combine their efforts to win the election, or at least prove beyond doubt that it has been stolen. But Tsvangari may not be the man to occupy Mugabe’s former office. In much the same way that moving Mugabe aside is key to change in Zimbabwe, getting Tsvangari to move aside for his party’s brightest and best may also be necessary.