HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is back in Zimbabwe itching to get back to work as soon as possible following his successful medical operation in Johannesburg two weeks ago.
Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday after flying back home on Friday evening, the former prime minister in the government of national unity said he was “fighting fit” and raring to lead from the front the MDC’s quest to dislodge President Robert Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF from power.
“There are times when people think it’s the end when it is actually the beginning … my absence has had no effect whatsoever on our programme of action. The momentum is there and we remain on course,” a jovial Tsvangirai said.
The indomitable MDC president, looking in remarkably good health after his emergency operation, said he couldn’t wait to pick up from where he left his “mission” when he led a massive demonstration in Harare last month.
He also implored the country’s opposition to work together and take advantage of Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars to pressure Mugabe to relinquish power.
“Zimbabweans want change, a better life, a viable economy and that is what the MDC is working to deliver. The MDC will roll out more mass programmes in various provinces that will eventually culminate in a major national protest effort,” he said.
While thanking Zimbabweans who wished him well, Tsvangirai also took the unusual step of thanking his “mortal enemies and those who wished me ill” as they were “a source of inspiration” to him.
His operation in South Africa — decided on by his family after advice from local doctors — came at a time that there have been signs the MDC leader and his party are getting their mojo back, after he recently led the mega demonstration against Zanu PF’s misrule.
Thousands of people — most of them MDC supporters clad in the party’s trademark red regalia — brought the capital’s central business district to a temporary halt then, as they marched in the peaceful demo that culminated in Tsvangirai calling on Mugabe to leave office now or face the wrath of the people.
Observers told the Daily News at the time that the demonstration, the first of many to come ahead of the keenly-anticipated 2018 national elections, had shown that contrary to Zanu PF propaganda that Tsvangirai and the MDC were now spent forces, the main opposition was very much alive and still the major threat to the ruling party’s thuggish hegemony.
Ahead of the march, all eyes were on Tsvangirai as he plotted the first serious mass action that the MDC had embarked on in a decade — with both friends and foes keen to see the impact, or lack of, of the demonstration as the 2018 national elections beckon.
Since Zanu PF controversially won the 2013 elections, the economy has been on a precipitous downward slide, with thousands of companies closing shop and hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs in the process.
And despite the best efforts of Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya to mitigate the situation, debilitating cash shortages continue to ravage the country, sending long-suffering citizens into panic mode that Zimbabwe has once again hit the depths of humanitarian and economic despair that were experienced in 2008.
Analysts say the cash crunch manifests “the sad reality” that the country’s economy is continuing on its catastrophic downward spiral — a consequence of the country’s decades-old political crises that are widely blamed on Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Many political and economic observers have also warned that 2016 will in all likelihood be harder all-round than 2015, which was itself generally described as an annus horribilis (horrible year).
They said there was “little hope” that life would get better for most Zimbabweans, and that if anything, the country’s ailing economy would get sicker, while the deadly factional and succession wars ravaging the post-congress Zanu PF would worsen.