All African states have their Morgan Tsvangirai. We have our own in Kenya. Uganda, DRC-Congo, Nigeria, Ghana and others have theirs too.
In Africa, Morgan Tsvangirai comes in different styles and forms. He is an opposition leader who perennially contests the presidential election. He has a sizable number of supporters and a realistic chance of winning the contest. But he always comes short. He sells himself as a messiah of his country but more to the West than his people. He never concedes defeat.
He always alleges that the winning candidate has engaged in massive and fraudulent ballot stuffing and other forms of electioneering malpractices. He calls for mass action or helps trigger widespread violence.
The Wikipedia dictionary calls this African phenomenon of perennial losers crying foul the “Raila doctrine”. It means the election in a given country is free and fair only when that losing candidate is declared the winner. This continental phenomenon is currently playing out in Zimbabwe.
The result of the presidential election in Zimbabwe must be analysed contextually. No one can make the case that Robert Mugabe is a visionary and progressive leader. Mugabe, in all fairness, has undertaken a process of destroying his once great, peaceful and prosperous country. His policies are utterly ruinous. No one can deny that he is a tin-god dictator who has really lost it.
The evidence of his calamitous reign is too plain and obvious to be denied by any sensible person. He has taken a rich country to the very blink of poverty and self-destruction. He kills and maims his opponents. In other words, the man who drove the British colonists out of his country has visited his own people in the last 10 years with much misery, poverty, hunger and death.
That notwithstanding, the people of Zimbabwe have seen it fit to elect Mugabe and his Zanu-PF with a thumping majority. If he is the choice of Zimbabweans, who are we to give a Tsvangirai excuse or a Raila Doctrine cry?
The AU election observers and the SADC monitors have both declared the election free and credible. It was a peaceful election. Voter turnout was good. Tsvangirai and his MDC participated and voted with a view to winning the elections. It is only the results that they reject.
There are a few things one needs to understand and appreciate in the Zimbabwe election. Mugabe, even though he turned into a dictator, is still loved by Zimbabweans. His struggle credentials resonate strongly with his people. He conducted a very strong and vigorous campaign and sold a much-liked manifesto. He is, needless to say, charismatic and a strong leader.
His opponent is really the opposite. MDC should have let him go a long time ago. He is flat, uninspiring, a run-of-the-mill politician who has all the looks of a loser! He has failed to capture the imagination of his people and the tag of a British lapdog stuck with him. In terms of a personality contest, Mugabe won by a knockout.
So what does the re-election of Mugabe mean for Zimbabwe and Africa? First, Mugabe should see his re-election and his approaching retirement as a golden chance to correct his mistakes. His forceful confiscation of land from the whites should end. His indigenisation policy is a ticket to darkness and destruction. This is his chance to change, reverse and leave a peaceful and prosperous country under Zanu-PF.
Second, Africa is revolting against politicians who are basically sponsored by the West. The tag that Tsvangirai found difficult to remove was that he was the West’s favoured candidate. In many countries in Africa, Kenya included, we have seen the crushing of candidates that are cleverly sold by Western powers as saviours of their countries enduring one defeat after another. The people know better!
Ahmednasir is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly