Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Individualism, Relapse and the Zimbabwe 2018 Elections.

By Takura Zhangazha*

I am aware that I have used an awkward word (relapse) for this particular blog.  But there were three significant events that brought a deeper reflection to the scheduled 30 July 2018 general/harmonised election to necessary thought.  But before I delve into those, it would be helpful to explain what relapse means.  It essentially means going back to repeating the same mistake over and over again. Or a return to a previous status of ailment. Even if by way of tradition or inability to resolve a problem.

But back to the three key events that we must take note of in at least the last three weeks and as they relate to elections in Zimbabwe this month. 

The first being the published summary of pre-election survey results of the Mass Public Opinion  Institute working in tandem with Afrobarometer.  The results of which are probably still slightly indicative of a ruling Zanu Pf victory while at the same time offering hope of the opposite being true in the event of a close call first round result call between the opposition and the ruling establishment.

But those details are interpretive and best left to those that own the survey to best explain them when they decide to do so.  Or are asked to do so in the last days before the election. 

Sifting through some of the initial data provided by MPOI and Afrobarometer, there is a depressing assessment of how Zimbabweans perceive of their political roles as citizens.  This being that a majority do not participate in ‘civic’ activities apart from the hope that their vote will count for something.  Very few of the respondents in the survey professed any need to regularly attend collective meetings to deal with an issue that affects everyone (eg. water, electricity and other basic amenities).  This is despite an electorally (every five or three years) regular expectation of a chance to change the leadership f the country. 

Its almost self contradictory until one reads between the lines of the MPOI survey.  A lot of Zimbabweans do not want to discuss political and civic issues beyond the confines of an electoral choice. And only for every five years.

A greater majority do not know of seek to know who their public representative in the national executive, the legislature or local government is unless they have to. Probably out of what Masipula Sithole referred to as the margin of terror, or put more simply, the margin of fear. 

The second significant occurrence was when former President of the United State of America, Barack Obama gave the Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa.  In his lecture, Obama asked a question as to Mandela’s popularity and if anyone could have defeated the latter. And why Mandela never chose to rule by executive fiat despite his tremendous undefeatable popularity (at that time). 

In Zimbabwe’s scheduled election there is no Mandela. As is the case in most African elections.  To paraphrase him, no candidate that exudes ‘ a singular moment, an epiphany’ to greater things to come.   But according to Obama, the soon to be first president of a democratic South Africa chose, eventually, to relinquish that soaring popularity for a democratic order.  One that despite its flaws, constitutes a democratic and free South African today.   The key point having been that democracy does not exist because of elections. On the contrary democracy precedes and defines electoral processes.

The third perspective that I wish to highlight is the probable reality that Zimbabwean society is now highly individualised.  Not because we actively sought to arrive here.  But more because we have lost our ‘thinking caps’. At least a majority of us. Never mind our at least continental reputation as the most educated Africans South of the Sahara.

This culture of individualism emerged as a combination of a harsh economic environment, a withdrawing state as led by a neo-liberal and repressive government with the expansion of materially motivated religious movements (big and small). This has also meant our ambitions have also become exceedingly self centered and less about a collective or common good for society. So we frown on things that everyone should safely have such as public transport, health and education.  And we strive for those things that are essentially individual, consumerist and perishable. 

But back again to my use of the word relapse.  The amount of anger a lot of young and old Zimbabweans feel about the state of affairs in the country is palpable. In this perceptions are fairly binary and can be highly emotional.  And they do not favour any assumptions of a lack of rationality.  And in the process we may find ourselves repeating the same mistakes again and again. These being forgetting values and principles that would make this country better. For everyone and not those that would want to lead us.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com) 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

ZBC's Problem is Editorial not Advertorial

By Takura Zhangazha*

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) recently issued a statement on its coverage of political parties during the current campaign period of Zimbabwe’s 2018 harmonised election.  This was after opposition political parties decried the high costs that the state broadcaster is charging for campaign adverts on its single television station and multiple radio stations. 

As is its norm, ZBC went on the defensive and claimed that it had complied with the electoral laws and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) media regulations.  It also added that it had offered political parties advertising airtime which if they do not take up, that is pay for, will be forfeited. With the added odd statement of how the same airtime ‘cannot be banked’. This is probably to mean that if any of the opposition parties manage to get the money to flight adverts they cannot get the allotted airtime in retrospect. 

The Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) permanent secretary and presidential spokespersons George Charamba weighed in to support the ZBC.  He was reported as derisively saying that the ruling Zanu PF party was paying for its own adverts while the opposition was failing to put up posters.

And it would appear that should be end of the argument.  In reality it should be the beginning of it.  This is because the problems at ZBC and this election’s coverage are editorial as opposed to ‘advertorial’. 

While as it claims, ZBC can have one or two prime time talk shows about meeting specific candidates or increased portions of electoral coverage on its 8pm main news bulletin, its coverage of the election in and of itself has been woefully inadequate.  Both for its singular television station and for all of its radio stations. 

From an editorial perspective and point of view, the state broadcaster is still evidently biased in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.  While it may deny this, the proof remains in the pudding.  News content and the live broadcasts of rallies/ meetings are heavily in favour of the ruling party.  While ZBC may claim that the opposition parties do not give them schedules of meetings, this is not a valid enough reasons for its reporters and editorial team to find these rallies in order to allow the public to know what the opposition is up to.  Or at least saying. 

Nor is there rolling news coverage of the electoral campaigns either on TV or radio.  That is to say, news coverage that seeks to regularly and in real time update Zimbabweans on what candidates, parties are up to.  Not as pre-recorded programmes, but live ones.  From any corner of the country and with any potential candidate.  Instead, in most cases, one has to wait for one main news bulletin at 8 to watch what is heavily summarised versions of events that should pass as ‘news’.

They may argue that they do not have the funding or capacity to do so but that again would to be a tad dishonest.  They should have been ready to do so. That’s largely because their role is to serve the public interest.  And using public funding (licence fees and government subsidies).  And this public interest means enabling the greatest possible access to information and free expression by all Zimbabweans on the electoral process/cycle, candidates and events. 

What however is obtaining, and conveniently excused by way of ‘payment for adverts’, is a carefully choreographed positioning of the state broadcaster in favour of the ruling party and its leaders.  This is not helped by the inadequacies of the ZEC media liaison committee which appears to believe its role is merely to monitor media coverage as opposed to enabling a free and fair media environment that accentuates free expression and access to information. Nor has it ever sought to bring the media to democratic account for any specific transgressions (real or imagined).   This is despite an assumption that this same committee takes over a majority of the functions of constitutional Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC). 

In essence whatever excuses ZBC is giving either against political parties or in favour of advertisements, it is not playing tis true public service broadcasting role.  Nor does it appear to intend to do so in the short and long term. But even if what appears to be its preferred political party winning the 2018 election, its role will once again regrettably be to act more to undermine free expression and access to information. And not just for elections.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com)  

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

United in Ambition, No High Stakes: Zimbabwe's Election Candidates


 By Takura Zhangazha*

I have a number of friends and acquaintances that are running for political office in Zimbabwe’s scheduled harmonised election.  The greater majority of them intend to be local government councillors, others still want to be members of parliament and one or two intend to be the president of the country.

Some are brazen while others are a little bit more circumspect about their ambitions.  A few are doing it for fun. And a fewer more are doing it on behalf of their political party. One or two still believe they were chosen or sent by God to seek political office and as a result thereof strongly believe that they are guaranteed victory. Oddly there are some that are claiming to be testing the waters for the 2023 elections by running in 2018 where ironically they do not expect to win. 

None of them appear enamoured to any specific ideological perspectives.  If they are they go with what’s trending and don’t ask too many questions.  Be it of their respective party manifestos or some ‘free market’ persuasions they encountered at a learning institution or workshop.

The reasons for this are varied.  But most significantly is that if they are in the opposition they probably feel that they have been in the trenches for long enough to be nonchalant about ideas.  Or that their personal political experiences (torture, arbitrary arrest and detention)  at the hands of the long ruling Zanu Pf party are enough reason to deserve political office.  A point that is somewhat understandable.

Regrettably a number of these colleagues are also in it for the benefits that come with political office.  The prospect of allowances, perks, salaries and determination of tenders appears to be very motivational.  In fact some of them deliberately chose to run for local government because of this as opposed to a specific desire to be closer to the people. 

A number of the candidates I also know are also doing it because they are young.  No more no less.  They are strongly persuaded that it’s now their turn to lead because they are youthful and therefore much more able bodied to be in leadership.  Given the population demographics, being young, on its own helps score political points or even electoral victories.  Regrettably for them, it is still not enough to guarantee electoral success.  Let alone to give one political gravity. But it most certainly helps. And there is always the rider that even if you are a young candidate that loses this time around, you can always try again next time.  Health and life permitting.

What is however more important is that all of these colleagues, are playing an important part in enabling the democratic right of all Zimbabweans to choose leaders of their choice democratically.  And in a democracy there is no such thing as ‘too many candidates’.  Especially in an electoral period.  People should be spoilt for democratic choice. Even if 23 presidential candidates make the ballot paper longer.

The only critical aspect to all of these candidates is that they must commit to the enhancing of a democratic culture not only for elections but in all aspects of Zimbabwean lives and the state itself.  To participate in the 2018 election as a candidate essentially points to some sort of commitment to the democratic process. While at the same time accepting the possibility of defeat. 

Because based on the party manifestos, candidate promises, there are no big ideas that are being pushed for.  Most candidates for every contestable position are not saying much that is different.  The proposed economic policies of all the major parties are neo-liberal.  A majority of individual candidates share a messianic streak supported by religious dogma. And the rest of the field is largely opportunistic.    So the truth of the matter is that there are no high stakes in this election. At least not on substantive matters.  It all appears to be a matter of preference.  And that’s a good thing (at least for a functional democracy).
The only challenge is that the more our politics is imbued with materialism, celebrity style campaigns and non-contextual neo-liberal marketing pitches as ideas, then it is bound to lose its organic feel with the people.  But then again, we deal the hand that we are dealt.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capcity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com) 

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Bulawayo Rally Explosion: Reflecting, Remaining True to a National Democratic Course


 By Takura Zhangazha*

The tragic bomb blast in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe  on the weekend of 23 July 2018 at a Zanu Pf rally made one pause for deep reflection on the state of our national (Zimbabwean) politics.  While expressing deep shock and sadness at the lives that were lost and those that were injured by the terrible incident, we can only hope that this or anything similar to it will never happen again. Either during this electoral period or anytime afterward.  In any circumstances. 

We do not yet know the motivation for what Vice President Chiwenga referred to as a ‘terrorist act’.  And correctly so, all opposition political parties worth their national salt have condemned this terrible act.  While the security services are still investigating it and without any remit to make further comment on this tragic incident, all Zimbabweans must seek to rise above it. 

There will be and already are many stories that point to various conspiracies about what could have been the motivation for such an attack. 

And Zimbabwean social media (domestic and Diaspora controlled) has fuelled these conspiracies further.  Either by way of genuine speculation or attempts at conspiratorial attention seeking or clickbaiting.

This to the extent of political party leaders (at varying levels) beginning to mix up official perspectives on the tragedy with personal opinion on social media.  And in some cases doing the same in the mainstream media.  

But I am persuaded that all Zimbabweans, especially those that are voters and even those that would want to be elected political leaders from various political persuasions, for all their faults and views on this matter, would want the country to proceed to never veer from its, faults and all, electoral culture. Even if their interests and reasons for doing so are entirely personal.   Or about their own political ambitions. 

There is always however a need for all of us to pause and reflect on our national political culture, the motivation(s) of our political leaders, parties and activists in their pursuit of political power.    

In this, we must move forward beyond loyalties to political individuals and a loyalty to political values that connote more democratic meaning and a pursuit of national democratic posterity. By the latter I mean that we must undertake our political activism less for the moment and more for a true democratic meaning beyond our own lives, lifestyles and personal experiences. 

While the events of November 2017 with the 'military intervention'/ 'coup-not-a-coup'  that spawned them remain an eyesore of our politics, (it never had to happen but it did), we have to chart a new national democratic culture and course.  And this is one that must rise above the long standing  succession dynamics of the ruling party that got regrettably played out onto the national political stage. 

But we deal the hand we are dealt with.  Both by default and by way of our own popular misunderstanding of what happened or, now, in the aftermath of the Bulawayo incident, what we remain on tenterhooks about what should by now be a straight forward electoral process. 
In avoiding the conspiracies, one has to discuss what would be the country’s political future.  That future should be underpinned by an immediate and direct abhorrence of politically motivated violence.  In whatever form.  And it must value the lives of every Zimbabwean regardless of their political hue beyond political slogans, persuasions and loyalties. 

But our levels of national and democratic political consciousness are worrying.  Especially in the aftermath of the Bulawayo national tragedy. 

At the risk of sounding repetitive, we need to rise above such terrible acts and continue to create a deeper democratic meaning to our national politics.  From those that would claim ownership of ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ through to those that would talk of ‘Generation 40' and others still of 'Generational Consensus’ and others whose ‘mantra’s or dictums’ are not yet clear, the issue that they must be reminded of is that they do not lead for themselves.   They lead for others and they set precedents of the nature of our future democratic politics as led by younger comrades who may not have as much patience as they would have.  Either based on experience or on long term political ambitions.  Individual or organisational. 

So it’s a good thing that the Zimbabwean government has committed itself to ensuring that elections are held as scheduled on Monday 30 July 2018.   But not only for the purposes of assumptions of personal electoral victories. But more for the purposes of proving that our nascent functional democracy begins to work beyond individual political ambition, pursuits of power for its own sake but more for constructing a new democratic culture that shuns altogether political violence in whatever form and respects the sanctity of human life.  No matter the differences of political opinion and political grudges of the past. 

As the legendary Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo once sang, ‘Hondo isu takairamba kare’( we refused acts of war a long time ago.)  We should  look to the future and while acknowledging the past, seek better democratic solutions to the latter’s after effects.   With better people centered democratic ideas, contexts and a better politics that has nothing to do with politically motivated violence.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com)


Thursday, 21 June 2018

Zim Elections 2018: A Complicit Attempt at Ending Opposition Politics


 By Takura Zhangazha*

Zimbabwe’s ruling establishment or military political complex are consistently referring to how they intend to stop focusing on ‘politics’. Instead, as claimed by President Mnangagwa, they want to put all their energy into what they have called ‘the economy’. 

Some ruling party pundits have gone so far as to equate that the ruling establishment’s slogan of ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ also applies to politics.  

And here they essentially are arguing that there is no longer any need to make politics as polarised as before, but more significantly, to remove any assumptions of high stakes end games as was the case with their predecessor leader Robert Mugabe (arguments which can only be made by those that anticipate an electoral victory.)

The more significant intention however appears to make the opposition appear somewhat agenda-less or even in some instances, irrelevant.

This is one of the arguments that Herald columnist Igomombe recently put into the public domain.  Referring to the ‘death of party politics’ he writes, ‘Looking in the crystal ball, Zimbabwe after July 30 will pass for a highly de-politicized Nation. There is likely to be a net swing to wealth-creation and the founding of a technocratic ethos which it needs to underpin that swing.’

The fortification of the ‘ease of doing business’ mantra, together with the ruling military political complex anticipation of a July 2018 electoral victory means that they do not want an opposition.  Or that they will work effectively to undermine it by giving it a rope long enough to hang itself.  This in the form of speaking the language of global capital, neoliberalism accompanied with strands of state capitalism. 

The assumption is that once they take away the economic agenda from the opposition by courting global capital on the basis of incumbency before and after the 2018 election, it will cease to be taken as seriously as it was at its peak.  Add to this the internal structural weaknesses of the opposition would also make the intention/task easier.

And all under the guise of a ‘new dispensation’.

The ruling establishment’s functionaries are therefore keen on constructing a new domestic ‘hegemony’ that is in tandem with the hegemony of neoliberalism. And to reduce opposition politics to nothing but a mere aberration that would never get into power.  Or having the political arrogance to assist what remains of it to ‘democratically’ exist. 

Regrettably these evident political intentions of the ruling military political complex for the 2018 elections will only be popularly realised after the event.  The opposition may have an idea of these ruling establishment intentions, but has become to enamoured to electoral movement squabbling and campaigning as to be unable to think beyond their individual political careers. 
To create an initial form of counter-hegemony Zimbabweans need to challenge the ruling establishment’s neoliberal narrative on the basis of clear alternative social democratic values that embrace more the people than they do capital.  The opposition political parties need to learn to seek to distinguish themselves from the ruling party on the basis of values as opposed to personalities and age. 
Once the ruling military political complex’s narrative is challenged, it is important that there be the use of relevant public platforms (online and offline) to increase the public debate on a different understanding of what would be a more people-centered national political economy. 

This would also mean that the value proposition of elections should also change.  That is, we would still need to change the political culture that considers elections, electoral processes only as national events. I know that this is a hard ask, but it is entirely possible. 

While I cannot suggest who should do this, I know that the primary responsibility to do so is with those that would want to be elected, the political parties.  And in particular, those that are in the opposition, who the ruling establishment is only too happy to see in their weak state. 

But even more so, for pro-democracy activists, who while not co-opted into ‘incremental change’ frameworks, understand the undemocratic intentions of the ruling establishment.  Knowing full well that incremental change leads to an political elite permanence in power, pro-democracy activists need to be ideologically clear in how they intend to put out counter-narratives as well as how they raise the democratic accountability of political parties.   Internally and externally.   
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com) 

Monday, 11 June 2018

Keyboards Drawn, Perceptions Ready: Social Media and Zimbabwe's 2018 Election


By Takura Zhangazha*

As is increasingly the case across the world, social media is now a permanent fixture of Zimbabwe’s political battleground.  And again as is the case in every country that lays claim  to being democratic, its use for political mobilisation proposes escalates during election campaigns.

Given the fact that Zimbabweans shall be voting on Monday 30 July 2018, social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp apart from being sources of information have become purveyors of a great deal more political opinion, innuendo, bias and activism. 

Because of this it is important to think through the current and contextual placement of social media may mean for Zimbabwe’s scheduled elections.

One thing that is almost certain is that there will be no role for global political consultants such as was the now ‘non-existent’ Cambridge Analytica that could allegedly invade what little privacy rights remain on social media and use algorithms to sway voters to a particular side.

But as is now already the case, there are organised groups of social media specialists and party supporters, sympathisers that are actively tweeting, ‘whatsapping’ and ‘facebooking’ for their side.  
And all the main political parties that are in this election appear to be expecting their supporters to harness social media to demonstrate either their popularity or effectiveness of their campaigns.

And its all fair game. For now. Though I anticipate that social media content on the elections and between parties will get more rabid as the Election Day nears and as the results start to be officially announced.

The striking characteristics of the electoral campaign related social media content is that it appears to be serving the primary function of fortifying political positions or functioning almost strictly as ‘echo chambers’ of already held perspectives/views.

At least for those that are online or have some sort of intermittent access to the internet.  This means that the initial primary target of the political social media content is to those that are ‘converted’ by way of which party they support.  So their party, its leaders and supporters must be actively seen to be on social media for the purposes of giving each other confidence and demonstrating the amount of (sometimes contrived) public support that they have.  These campaigns are therefore designed for instilling greater confidence and ‘pride’ for party members and supporters. 

In the second instance, these now confident online party supporters then try and expand their party’s reach to a broader audience. And in most cases this is the urban and Diaspora based Zimbabwean voter who has greater access to the internet and social media.  Here the content is as with the first primary target audience, highly politicised and intended to demonstrate an already existent political strength (through numbers shown by pictures of rally attendances and embellished negative stories of rival political parties.)

In turn the targeted voter also accepts, likes, receives, shares information that suits their preferences.  Especially on the whatsapp platform. Bringing to the fore, again, the fact that electoral content on social media for the 2018 election is mainly about confirming, strengthening already established preferences.  This is largely because of the highly personalised, materialist and loyalist nature of our country’s electoral-political culture. 

The middle ground of this social media content is hard to find.  It’s largely comprised of election related support organisations that will either urge people to crosscheck their names on the voters roll or put out analysis on the law and other requirements for a free and fair election.  All juxtaposed against what obtains.  Such social media content is largely ‘instrumentalised’ by one political contestant or the other depending on what the issue is. If it is critiquing the current electoral system, it will be used to malign the ruling party.  If it is commending the electoral system it is used to malign the mainstream opposition.

Then there is the personal dimension to political content around the elections that is increasingly coming to the fore.  Prominent activists and celebrities on Zimbabwean Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp have also taken to putting out content that clearly indicates which side their rooting for.  And in some cases there have been some twitter spats between them, again, based on their preferences. One can only hope that these spats stay online and remain no more than political banter.  

Though in most instances it does seem that these will spill over from the online to the physical. 
And where we discuss the relationship between the online world that social media represents with the real world, we also have to be wary about how electoral content may also affect the emotional and psychological state of those that are putting it out or consuming it.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com) 

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Re-Reading Tsvangirai's Bio 'At the Deep End': Reflecting on Legacy, Leadership, Ideology

By Takura Zhangazha*

I recently re-read Zimbabwe’s late former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s biography or memoir, ‘At the Deep End.’  Written in collaboration with the late journalist William Bango, the book is essentially about  Tsvangirai’s reflections on his own life.  Both the personal and more significantly (for me at least)  the political aspects of the same. 

And its purpose was probably to emphasise the political more than the personal.  Either way it tells the life story of a man who conscientiously worked to improve the lives of workers as a unionist and the those of the people of Zimbabwe as a political leader. 

I was re-reading the biography more out of nostalgia of the activist days I first encountered Morgan and also in order to reflect on his immense contribution to the struggle for the democratisation of Zimbabwe.    

This is despite the controversy that has now come to surround the process(es) of selecting his successors in the mainstream opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) political party that he led until his passing on. 

I was more interested in what Morgan in his own book felt he had come to represent in relation to political values and principles.  And what both portended for his leadership legacy.   

Like most people born in the 1950’s, Morgan’s initial political consciousness was based on encounters with nationalist parties and the violence of the colonial settler state.  He however does not make any claims to having been an active member of the then liberation movement at an early age.

His more significant political consciousness stemmed largely from the work he began doing as a trade unionist of the Associated Mine Workers Union at Trojan Nickel mine in Bindura.  And unionism is generally couched in the politics of direct representation of workers (and their interests or else you lose the representative post.)

In the euphoria that was national independence, and through the urging of the new government, that was to see Tsvangirai become a member of the ruling Zanu PF party.  All trade unions were now required to join the new Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) led by Albert Mugabe (brother to then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe). 

In rising up the trade union ranks to become national vice president of the AMWUZ (and subsequently moving to Harare to take up the post) Tsvangirai maintains a specific focus on unionism and does not demonstrate any intention at ascending the ruling Zanu PF’s party leadership ladder.  This is a key point to make because his commitment to labour unionism would define his leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

In the position of secretary general that he took up in 1988, his primary concern was the welfare of workers.  But events such as that of the demonstrations at the University of Zimbabwe in the following year would escalate his political collision course with the establishment.  In fact he was detained without trial for at least 90 daysweeks after the ZCTU issued a statement in solidarity with the university’s students union.

His clearer ideological leanings emerged when the impact of government neo-liberal economic policy the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) started negatively affecting workers.  Though he does not claim it in his book, the documents that the ZCTU authored at that time such as one referred to as ‘Beyond ESAP’ had clear left leaning ideological nuances. 

The acts of solidarity with striking civil servants and the leadership of the ZCTU to help from and lead the National Constitutional Assembly, did not however cement any leftist ideological leanings.  But they expanded an attempt at a holistic approach to leadership that Tsvangirai would come to use a that at the formation of the labour party backed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). 

And this meant that Tsvangirai was not an ideologue despite his evident strong belief in the rights of workers.  Hence he abhorred the liberalisation of the economy which led to job losses for many workers and insisted on a form of economic protectionism of local business and industry. 

It also turns out that Tsvangirai was a strong believer in people-centered consultative processes.  Before the formation of the party, and he makes regular reference to this, ZCTU undertook a study to figure out what the people wanted.  One of his colleagues, who gets commendable mention, Timothy Kondo, undertook a nationwide research on issues affecting the people on behalf of ZCTU. 

Combined with a multi-stakeholder approach that led to what was the National Working People’s Convention (NWPC) in early 1999 which tasked labour to form what was then called a ‘working people’s party’.

Tsvangirai then fully embraces ‘social democracy’ but in a manner that I hazard to add is more to the centre than to the left.  This was probably in keeping with what the ‘third way’ politics that was trending politically via the then 'global' leadership of Bill Clinton,, Gerhard Schroeder and Tony Blair at the turn of the century. 

To quote him on this ideological matter, Tsvangirai says, ' Our policies and ideals had been set out at the NWPC and the general policy thrust was for democratic change, in the real sense of the word.  We had said that we were social democrats: we believed in a clearly defined but limited role of the state in governance and in the economy'.   

I am sure that the latter line may have been said with the benefit of hindsight on his part.   And it does sound less genuine than the slightly more radical and protectionist argument against ESAP motivated economic liberalisation.

In this regard it is always useful to keep in mind that Tsvangirai's memoirs were written at a time when he was already in the inclusive government and decidedly less radical for what in my view at that time were expedient reasons.  And assumptions at a globally acceptable statesmanship.

That is where the rub in recalling Tsvangirai's leadership is.   Both as a lesson to those that would seek to lead or be led.  It is always imperative to remain true to the values and principles that brought one to leadership.  Even in the most difficult of circumstances.  Contrasting the genesis of his leadership with the time when he passed on there appears to be a coherent pattern of commitment to the working people of Zimbabwe.  Even if mistakes were made, Tsvangirai could never shake off his original understanding of politics. That is the people always come first.  No matter that the methods he used were sometimes out rightly populist and borderline messianic. Or that in the age of the inclusive government they became more neo-liberal in approach and intent.    But above all else he was probably a believer in direct representation (unionism) of an affected majority even if he would come to control its immediate outcome or popular meaning. Ideology or no ideology.

What I personally learnt and now observe with the benefit of hindsight is that however ones political fortunes change, it is always important to remember what got you to where you are and remain as organic as possible with that base.  It helps. Despite new pressures, opportunities or very personal preferences.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personality (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com)