Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Visit Impromptu but Welcome - Tsvangirai

Photo: The Herald
Mnangagwa visits ill Tsvangirai.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the visit by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to his Highlands home last Friday was an impromptu but welcome gesture which could signal the new politics in a country opposition leaders have been viewed as enemies of the state.

In his New Year message issued Monday, Tsvangirai said all well-meaning Zimbabweans should build on the visit to herald a new politics of engagement where political differences were celebrated and people allowed to express divergent views.

President Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga visited the ailing opposition leader at his government house in Highlands in a development that was commended by some and criticised by others.

Mnangagwa later announced the government would give Tsvangirai his pension and benefits for serving as Prime Minister in the Government of National Unity between 2009 and 2013. The benefits would include ownership of the Highlands home, full medical cover and a $15,000 monthly salary.

Some within the MDC-T subtly accused party Vice President Nelson Chamisa of organising the visit to "embarrass" Tsvangirai and expose him as unfit to continue in office as the young politician allegedly positioned himself to take over.

Others accused Mnangagwa of trying to score cheap political points by portraying himself as a caring leader despite a history littered with atrocities, especially against supporters of the MDC which the same Tsvangirai led.

Even so, Tsvangirai, who was shown in images hugging Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, said the visit served to show the nation that an opposition party, especially one with parliamentary representation, was not an enemy of the state but was just as patriotic and aspired for the happiness of Zimbabweans.

"Indeed, my engagement with President Mnangagwa must herald a new page in our politics-a page in which the opposition is considered a partner and not an enemy of the state," he said.

Tsvangirai, however, said judging by the "iron fist" reaction by the Mnangagwa administration in dealing with the Gukurahundi demonstrations two weeks ago, the new government was still far from gaining the full trust of the people.

"That response was wanton, unjustified and shows that the Mnangagwa administration still has a lot to do to earn our faith and trust," he said, adding that the people of Bulawayo still had deep seated wounds that were festering since the Gukurahundi atrocities of 1980 and should be allowed to express themselves.

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