Tsvangirai’s ‘love triangle apology’ not good enough

By IndepthAfrica
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Oct 6th, 2012
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Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with his wife Elizabeth Macheka during a traditional wedding in Harare on Saturday.

One does not have to be a women’s rights activist to sadly note that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s purported apology to the women he used and abused and dumped before settling for Elizabeth Macheka, is not good enough.

Addressing his party’s 13th anniversary gathering last Saturday, Tsvangirai is widely quoted as saying, “I know the road I travelled to make this choice has been rough and has been filled with all sorts of trouble, but I am glad I eventually made my choice.

“Although the road has not been easy, I had no intention to hurt anyone . . It was a genuine search. I want to apologise to anyone who has been hurt.”

There are a number of issues that flow from these words that can be discussed, as will duly be done, to show that Tsvangirai’s “apology” was unfortunate, opportunistic, arrogant, insensitive, impersonal, chauvinistic and ultimately not worth the while.

It came only 16 days after he mocked his estranged wife Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo that she had a demon which had eaten her unborn child, causing her to miscarry.

He said this statement on September 15 at a public event in the Glamis Arena that sought to bless his union with Elizabeth Macheka, trashing the traumatic experience of women who happen miscarry.

That last Saturday’s “apology” was said on the 13th commemoration of the founding of the party makes it all the more unlucky.

First, Tsvangirai abusively sneaked his “apology” at the public platform of the party’s rally.

Granted, his supporters and the public that sees the Prime Minister in him were owed an explanation about his behaviour, but the words were not directed to them but supposedly to the array of women he concedes he hurt. The manner of his purported apology, quite as impersonal and hurtful as dumping women through text messages and refusing to talk to them or divorcing women through political party Press statements, lacked sensitivity.

Here is one man who tries to project himself as a nkosi who goes to a parade of women and samples many of them, fiddle with their emotions and then dumps them, eventually. In the primitive cultures, this may be acceptable, but then one would guess the nkosis and indunas do not try to sanitise their actions by mock apologies and excuses.

The fact that Tsvangirai did makes his situation worse more so trying to evoke the discredited and flatulent slogan about his “real choice”.

When Tsvangirai says the road to finding Elizabeth, his “real choice” has been “rough and has been filled with all sorts of trouble” what exactly does he mean?

Is it the women who have created trouble for him?

Have women like Locardia made rough of Tsvangirai’s life, which makes him call her demonic?

Or was Nosipho Shilubane, that South African woman, the rough sea in Tsvangirai’s life (pun intended)? Was he the one who created “all sorts of trouble” for the women in question?

As it stands, it is clear that Tsvangirai is yet to pacify the likes of Suzeet Kwenda, that MDC-T activist in the UK who took Tsvangirai to task and angrily wrote him a letter recently “as a concerned woman and a mother, regarding your treatment of women and the girl child”.

She wrote in part: “On behalf of all Zimbabwean women who are sick and tired of being abused, I am kindly requesting you to do the honourable thing and resign. As a leader, your disrespect and attitude towards women leaves a lot to be desired. No excuse is acceptable for the emotional or physical abuse of women and sexual objectification thereof.

“Power comes with responsibility. Leaders should live by example and be good role models to the younger generation who are going to be the future leaders of tomorrow.”

Tsvangirai’s statements do not sound honourable. He does not show much respect. He embarks on the very antithesis that a concerned woman and mother call for: that they not be objectified.

Tsvangirai says they were hurt in a “genuine search”. What cheek! The women of this world who may give their hearts to such men as Tsvangirai must consider themselves collateral damage caught in some carnal “genuine search”.

They are supposed to carry their cross.

It is in this regard that Tsvangirai should have given a sober, full and an honest statement to the nation and its women over his behaviour not the kind of aside he made on Saturday.

If he could purport to divorce Locardia through a Press statement or if he could manage to litter the whole town with the posters of his “real choice”, Elizabeth, surely he could make a statement in the newspapers?

The Betty Makonis of this world, known to fight for women’s rights, were silent on this issue and could have certainly given our Premier one or two words of advice on how to treat women. Where was the noise from the women’s groups?

Secondly, it is unfortunate and immature for Tsvangirai to try to politicise his personal, if messy, relationships and make them MDC-T issues. His supporters deserve better and that is why his abuse of the party’s platform and the infamous “real choice” campaign by his cronies and hangers-on have been unfortunate and uncalled for.

There is certain credit that comes with the image of family, but Tsvangirai has already destroyed himself by his bed-hopping antics as well as going to romps in the company of his family.

The frantic propaganda antics in trying to build the image of a family man and introducing Elizabeth to the “MDC family” can only expose him.

Then come the claims about US$100 million having been earmarked for covert operations to smear Tsvangirai via his personal issues.

One hears Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka trying to pre-empt the skeletons in his master’s cupboard by forebodingly telling the world that more women could come along just to tarnish Tsvangirai’s image.

This may suggest that Tamborinyoka might have been aware of some of the honey jars that his boss might have partaken of.

Thirdly, and connected to Tsvangirai’s long road in search of a lover, the Premier does not help the view expansively held that he is weak and indecisive. And the problem is, if a person trips and blunders and falls in the search of a woman, can he be trusted with finding the solutions for a country of over 12 million?

If he could not deploy the advice of his party and his friends and the resources otherwise available to him in the search of a wife, can he deploy the same for the wellbeing of the country?

Tsvangirai should know that this whole episode about women in his questionable leadership showing puts him under even greater scrutiny.

The habit of making careless statements, which may cheer rally goers, may not too sound well, as they usually don’t, when it comes to the crunch.

Already even within the MDC, as Suzeet remarkably demonstrated, not everyone is happy.

His verbal incontinence, hoping he has gone over women, will not help his cause.

He might be hailed, sometimes wrongly, as a brave person, but the same bravery cannot be expended in thrashing the genuine concerns of such groups as women and girls.

Sometimes it might help to keep a brave face and keep quiet just as it is prudent to have an open mind and a shut zip. It only helps everyone.

This is why it can be argued that Tsvangirai’s purported apology was just not worth the while.

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