16 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Boost for Embattled Tsvangirai

MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday got a major boost when top national executive members, including former legislators from the Welshman Ncube-led MDC re-joined his party.

While calls for Tsvangirai's resignation are said to be increasing among disgruntled lieutenants, former Mangwe and Insiza South legislators, Edward Mkhosi and Siyabonga Malandu-Ncube respectively, were paraded to a sizeable crowd that attended an MDC-T rally at Stanley Square in Makokoba.

The return of Mkhosi and Malandu-Ncube follows that of outspoken St Mary's former legislator and leader of MDC 99 Job Sikhala, a founder member of the united MDC who re-joined Tsvangirai's fold last week.

In a clear sign of political grandstanding, the MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, had the crowd in a frenzy when he displayed Zanu PF regalia, which included 2008 campaign T-shirts and clothing material, he said had been surrendered by President Robert Mugabe's supporters in Bulawayo.

Sikhala, who received a standing ovation, roused the crowd with his powerful address in which he pledged loyalty to Tsvangirai, saying he had agreed with the MDC-T leader that the only way to dislodge Mugabe and Zanu PF was to forge a united MDC.

Mkhosi said "it is good to be back home so that we deal with the common enemy Zanu PF."

Tsvangirai said Mkhosi and Malandu's move to re-join the party was indicative of the fact that the MDC-T remained a party of choice, before making an impassioned plea to other erstwhile colleagues in Ncube's MDC, Zapu and civic society organisations, to shrug off their personal and political differences and form a grand coalition to dislodge Mugabe in the next polls.

The ex-premier said party members calling on him to step aside would not be expelled, before calling on them to close ranks with him.

Tsvangirai said Mugabe and Zanu PF had failed to inspire confidence in the economy, eight months after the controversial July 31 polls.

Chamisa said the party had taken a deliberate strategy to revive the MDC-T to what it was in 1999 when it was united with the likes of Ncube, Sikhala, Mkhosi, Malandu Ncube and trade unions including students' movements.

He said people calling for leadership renewal were misguided and labelled them agents of Zanu PF, adding that "you cannot change a referee at half time, you can only change players". He said Zanu PF had blundered by "paying some of the party 'renegades' to try and plant seeds of divisions by their calls for leadership renewal.

"But I want to warn Zanu PF; you cannot cut a baobab tree using a razor blade. Zanu PF is going to regret rigging the 2008 polls," he said. Chamisa said his party was on a path to revive and re-invent itself ahead of the 2018 elections.

The party faithful, however, had no kinds words for the alleged rebels and did not miss the chance to denigrate Mangoma, Biti; MDC-T youth assembly chairperson Solomon Madzore and his secretary general Promise Mkhwananzi.

The cheering crowd kept chanting "ongafuniyo kayekele" (those that don't want the leadership of Tsvangirai can leave) while also taking turns to compose songs casting aspersion on Mangoma such as "Mupanduki [rebel] Mangoma, your time is up".

Morgan Ncube, MDC-T Matabe-leland South youth chair, had the crowd shouting itself hoarse when he informed the gathering that Mkhwananzi was no longer the youth assembly's secretary general.

TSVANGIRAI CALLS FOR UNITED MDC

Morgan Tsvangirai's calls for a united MDC comes hard on the heels of the suspension of Elton Mangoma, the MDC-T treasurer general, for calling on Tsvangirai to step aside while other senior party officials like secretary general, Tendai Biti and youth assembly secretary general, may face the same fate.

"We do not want to kick anyone out of the MDC tent. We need everyone to be part of this movement as we move forward. Those colleagues [reference to Mangoma and others] of ours must come back, they must not be beaten, and they must not be condemned. I don't want anyone who promotes violence in this party," Tsvangirai told cheering party supporters.

"Let us be united and build this party... those in the civic society, we have travelled this road together. The spirit of 1999 is the spirit that will drive this party forward.

"That spirit is the spirit of unity, and a spirit of purpose. We need to go back there to re-energise the people and to re-invigorate the party."

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