Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had a nightmarish 59th birthday on Thursday and his reaction to the multi-pronged setbacks could have left millions of  troubled Zimbabweans, pinning their hopes on his leadership, frustrated.

The biggest shock was the arrest of one of MDC-T’s negotiators in the topsy-turvy unity government, Elton Mangoma on corruption charges about which the country’s supposed co-holder of executive power only learned through a cellphone text message.

Mangoma, one of the coalition government’s most important ministers is accused of corruptly authorising a fuel deal involving a South African company and was remanded in custody until March 28.

As if that was not enough, news began filtering that MDC-T chairman Lovemore Moyo had lost his post as Speaker of the House of Assembly. Barely a day after the Supreme Court nullified  his election as Speaker, Moyo was ordered to vacate his government house and surrender parliament’s property.

The Supreme Court had upheld an appeal by Zanu PF Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo who challenged the former Matobo MP’s election to the hot seat.

Tsvangirai addressed a hastily- arranged press conference where he rehashed MDC-T’s now familiar rhetoric about a “divorce” from President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF.

In October 2009, MDC-T temporarily pulled out of the coalition government accusing Mugabe of being “dishonest and unreliable”.

The pullout followed the indictment of the party’s treasurer general Roy Bennett on terrorism charges.

MDC-T also cited a catalogue of complaints against Mugabe who had started showing reluctance in fulfilling commitments he made in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Bennett has since been acquitted by the courts but MDC-T’s grievances have continued to grow with each day as an increasingly confident Mugabe believes he can bury his opponents if an election is held soon.

An unprecedented police clampdown has netted a number of MDC-T MPs and Mangoma became the biggest catch in what many believe is a trumped-up case.

The developments had led many into believing that Tsvangirai had been pushed against the wall and may have wanted to prove to his doubters that he still had the muscle.

But even his threat to pull out sounded half-hearted as he was quick to point out that a fresh election was the only way out of the quagmire.

Observers believe Tsvangirai will stay in the inclusive government despite Mugabe’s intransigence because he believes that there is no guarantee that future elections would be free and fair.

South African President Jacob Zuma is currently working with the three parties in the unity government to produce a roadmap for the polls that Mugabe wants this year.

A referendum on the new constitution, which is also likely to go a long way in levelling the electoral playing field, is due later this year.

Zanu PF lost control of parliament for the first time since independence in 2008 following a dismal performance against the two MDC formations.

Tsvangirai also beat Mugabe in the first round of the presidential elections but failed to stand in the run-off after massive political violence, allegedly engineered by state agents.

Besides the setting up of the independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the environment still hasn’t changed much.

“Zanu PF cadres and securocrats who murdered people in the run-up to the June 27 election are roaming free and no criminal charges have been pressed against the murderers of Tichaona Chiminya, Talent Mabika and the other 200 victims of the 2008 violence,” Tsvangirai admitted on Thursday.

Zanu PF, MDC-T marriage broken  irretrievably

Bekithemba Mpofu, a founding youth secretary general of the united MDC said it was now common cause that the relationship between Zanu PF and MDC-T had irretrievably broken down.

“When the coalition was formed Zanu PF was on its knees but now, having benefitted from the coalition, have since been able to crawl, walk and will be running soon,” Mpofu said.

“Evidently, they are now jogging, that’s why they have the luxury to start arresting opponents at will, threaten foreign companies and restart their violent campaigns.

“The MDC can continue to provide them with the life-support units that have since brought them back to life or can stop the supply before Zanu PF gets back its full confidence.”

Mpofu said Zanu PF knew that chances of MDC-T pulling out of the unity government were slim and would therefore continue to push boundaries in its quest to test Tsvangirai’s determination to stand resolute.

“It is foolhardy for anyone to ever think Zanu PF is in it to help the people as their main concern is and has always been about selfishly staying in power by any means,” he said.

“So if you are dealing with such a partner in a coalition using kid gloves, it can be counter-productive.

“I think Tsvangirai has patiently extended a hand of peace and unfortunately this has been mistaken for being weak. A more radical approach is required.”

He said if MDC-T pulled out Mugabe could continue as if nothing happened as was the case in 2009 and would then call for an early election with the conditions that are currently prevailing.