21 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Pressure Awaits Ailing Tsvangirai

Photo: The Herald
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai (file photo).

Pressure awaits ailing MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai on his return from South Africa, with the party's senior leadership from Matabeleland pressing for a meeting to discuss disagreements over the formation of an opposition coalition.

Mr Tsvangirai was airlifted to South Africa for treatment last week. His deputy Ms Thokozani Khupe, national chairperson Mr Lovemore Moyo and suspended national organising secretary Mr Abednico Bhebhe broke ranks with their leader over an envisaged coalition of opposition parties ahead of 2018 harmonised elections.

The trio snubbed the initial launch of MDC Alliance in Harare last month and the second one that was held in Bulawayo recently, with fears that the opposition party could be headed for a split.

After the Harare launch, the three top leaders were reportedly manhandled by youths allegedly linked to Mr Tsvangirai's office who accused the trio of holding an unsanctioned meeting.

As a result of the assault, Ms Khupe and company snubbed a meeting of the party's national executive committee in Harare citing security fears. The three top MDC-T leaders, before the national executive council, wrote Mr Tsvangirai a letter registering their concerns around the coalition and that they would not attend the meeting because of security reasons.

Before Mr Tsvangirai was flown to South Africa, the two parties were reportedly trying to hold a meeting to iron out their differences to avoid a potential split. Yesterday, Mr Moyo said they would still press for the meeting with Mr Tsvangirai after his discharge from the South African hospital.

"I think that if the meeting was in the interests of the people then there is no way that it cannot be relevant. If it was a personal matter then maybe it can be said to be irrelevant with time, but if we don't attend to this matter then it will affect a section of the voting population," he said.

Moyo said while they valued their leader's health, their grievances were not a short term issue hence the need to address them if there was hope of amassing as many votes as they could.

"We really value his health and wish that he recovers to full health because he remains our trump card ahead of the 2018 elections, but there are critical issues that need to be discussed and we will wait until he is discharged and recovers then we engage him," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai was reportedly stretchered into a private plane at Harare International Airport around 2am last Friday, although his office sought to downplay the incident, insisting the MDC-T leader had flown to South Africa for a routine medical check-up.

Mr Tsvangirai was airlifted to South Africa after his condition drastically deteriorated during a workshop in Kadoma. He was recently diagnosed with cancer of the colon and has been receiving chemotherapy in South Africa for some time.

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