MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday turned Workers' Day celebrations at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare into a platform to appeal for support from workers against his bitter rival, party secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Mr George Nkiwane waded into the factional fighting, questioning Mr Biti's suspension of Mr Tsvangirai.
Addressing less than 1 000 people at the ZCTU-organised celebrations, Mr Tsvangirai begged workers to stand by him in the battle with a group of senior officials opposed to his continued leadership of the party.
Mr Tsvangirai accused Mr Biti's faction of being elitist and seeking to "steal the workers' struggle".
"Today, we publicly pledge here, in the presence of our great parent on this great day that we shall not allow the elite capture of our party by those we thought were partners in our struggle to positively transform the lives of the people of Zimbabwe," he said.
"I also want to take advantage of this platform to disabuse people of the false perceptions deliberately created to justify the hostile take-over of this great people's movement.
"I, as Morgan Tsvangirai, will not be at the helm of the workers' project until the cows come home.
"I will pass the baton to a new generation, but only through a democratic process called a congress and not through a boardroom coup by a few individuals outside the people process that elected us and gave us responsibility."
Mr Tsvangirai said the decision by his faction's national council to bring forward the party's congress to October was done so that members could elect their leadership.
"The attempt by the elite to capture the people's struggle was attempted again in 2005," he said.
"But just as it failed then, it has failed again and we in the party shall remain focused and united in our quest to bring everyone, indeed all committed individuals, into one big tent so that we can all unite to bring positive change in the country."
Mr Tsvangirai said the problems bedevilling the country could only be solved with action, though he did not explain what he meant.
Some of Mr Tsvangirai's inner circle who attended the Gwanzura gathering included Mr Nelson Chamisa, Mr Tapiwa Mashakada, Mr Obert Gutu, Ms Paurina Mpariwa and Mr Gift Chimanikire. An MDC-T banner was prominent in the ZCTU procession.
Director in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Francis Mafuratidze could not finish reading Minister Nicholas Goche's speech as MDC-T hooligans disrupted proceedings.