FORMER Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said he is a “greatly misunderstood man” after months of attacks by a breakaway MDC-T faction that accuses him of being a womaniser and refusing to hand over the baton.
The MDC-T leader in a statement titled “personal reflections” said he was not going to die in office and is not a womaniser.
Tsvangirai, who was at the weekend accused by former lieutenant Samuel Sipepa Nkomo of using campaign funds to pay off girlfriends, admitted bedding several women.
However, he blamed his escapades on an “emotional roller coaster” he suffered after the death of his wife Susan in 2009.
He said he had since settled down with Elizabeth Macheka whom she married in 2012 amid a lot of controversy after two women emerged to claim he had also promised them holy matrimony.
“As the leader of a great people’s movement, the MDC, and with a mandate derived directly from the people, it is my desire to drive this struggle to its logical conclusion,” Tsvangirai said in a statement entitled “personal reflections”.
“But I am saddened by the preoccupation with false narratives that are meant to divert us from the real problems facing the people.
“One such preoccupation is the pursuit of the issue of my assumed weakness with women. After my wife died in an accident back in 2009, life has not been easy going — that fateful day will not leave me.
He said “an attempt has been made to portray perceived errors to be the sum total” of what he is concerning his relationship with women.
“It is possible after such a loss for one to be on an emotional roller coaster,” Tsvangirai said.
“This becomes more acute as one grapples with the adjustment to a life without a partner who anchored you socially, at the same time laden with the burden of national responsibility to address an intricate national crisis.”
The former Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general said he had come to terms with the nature of public office as requiring public accountability.
“I am continuing to reflect and strive to live up to those high expectations,” he said.
“I have fought for the proliferation of media in Zimbabwe, as I am a firm believer in the necessity of the checks and balances that the media provide.
“I have since moved on and now share a commitment with my wife, Elizabeth.
“I have taken ownership of my responsibilities, which I continue to meet within my resources.”
Tsvangirai said the other false narrative was that he wanted to die in office.
“I will state unequivocally that I have no intention of staying a day longer at the helm of the MDC without the people’s mandate,” he said.
“But I will also pronounce, with the same vigour and vehemence, that I will not be hounded out undemocratically through a hostile takeover outside a people’s process called a party congress.
“We cannot be self-contradictory as to claim to be democrats when at the same time we want to remove elected leadership through a coup de tat.”
MDC-T would go to a congress in October and Tsvangirai is expected to retain his post.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai said that long-ruling President Robert Mugabe had “run out of ideas” to fix the economy amid massive unemployment and a brewing financial crisis.
“Mugabe remains marooned from the reality of the national situation, oblivious to the daily predicament facing Zimbabweans as they struggle to survive,” the opposition leader said. “The government simply has run out of ideas.”
Tsvangirai, who was premier from 2009 to 2013 as part of a power-sharing deal with Mugabe, said corruption and State profligacy were exacerbating economic woes as the country is saddled with a $10 billion debt.
“Systemic corruption and unbridled avarice (greed) have become an albatross of this economy,” he said.
“We have a government that has failed to mobilise a rescue package for the productive sector,” Tsvangirai said, adding that the result was an “unmitigated failure” to “rescue this abysmal situation”.
He blamed the government’s latest moves to seize majority stakes in foreign-owned companies for chasing away potential investors.
Under a new law, companies are required to hand over 51% of their shares to black Zimbabweans.
The economy has still not recovered from an economic meltdown that began more than 10 years ago after Mugabe pushed for the controversial seizure of white-owned land.
Independent economists estimate that unemployment in what was once known as the breadbasket of Africa now stands at 80%.
— Additional reporting by Sapa-AFP