Robert Mugabe spent 11 years in jail for his role as one of several leaders fighting for independence. The playing field was distinctly uneven and brutal. Yet the nationalists persevered in their quest for freedom. Morgan Tsvangirai has, on moral grounds, pulled out of a watershed election for the same country.

The first point is, while participating in any civic struggle for justice is a personal choice, its abandonment, by those you follow, days before the final hurdle represents a betrayal of those who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the regime one is seeking to replace. We have seen in television clip after television clip, interviews of people lying in extreme pain on their hospital beds vowing that they will still vote for the MDC regardless of what has happened to them. Who will provide them with closure now that their suffering has been rendered “meaningless” by the withdrawal by a leader who used to love “consulting” with the people before taking on any major decision?

The second point is Morgan Tsvangirai has made a moral decision because the people are being battered. I think that Morgan has been battered in to submission and he did not have the courage of his convictions to see this through. Why would he be prepared to negotiate a deal with someone he considers a monster? What deal will they come up with? How will Morgan justify sitting in a government of national unity after this? Could he not have participated in this election under protest?

So while it is understandable, the cold fact is he has handed Robert Mugabe victory on a “technicality” and that, from a legal point of view, still counts as a victory. This means his decision is not excusable. The fight for freedom has always been, at the very bottom of bottom lines, a “give me liberty or death” battle and Morgan and his advisors have failed the nation on this count. I know it is easier to say from behind a keyboard but Morgan’s role is that of a leader and mine is that of a commentator who actually pitched up for the final push on two successive days, ready to die for the country. Do not get me wrong, what has been going on is reprehensible but is the road to freedom, the world over, not littered with corpses and broken limbs?

This article was originally published at Kubatana.net, an online community of Zimbabwean activists.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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