Harare, May 16, 2014 – A meeting called to discuss problems in the opposition MDC had to be aborted after youths took umbrage at the unrestrained attack on Morgan Tsvangirai by renewal team spokesperson Jacob Mafume.
Mafume was a panelist together with MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora and deputy president of the smaller MDC Edwin Mushoriwa.
The highly-charged public seminar was held under the theme “Wither the MDC”. It was organised by policy think-tank, the Mass Public Opinion Institute at a local hotel in Harare.
Shooting from the hip, Mafume tore into Tsvangirai, describing him as a failed leader who concentrated on bed-hopping instead of pushing for political reforms.
This irked Tsvangirai’s supporters who started heckling Mafume, forcing the meeting to be called off.
“You cannot say you are fighting a big man mentality and then create another big man where others are donkeys that are being ridden,” Mafume said in his scathing presentation.
“We started a party of democrats, no one was riding others.
“We are actually trying to get rid of Mugabe who is riding us like donkeys. If our people are trying to create another leader (Tsvangirai) who makes us all donkeys that have to be ridden by him as he gets into Jerusalem, I say no to this,” said Mafume, amid heckling from the floor.
Youths loyal to Tsvangirai loudly disrupted his presentation, shouting that Mafume was a traitor.
Others shouted that Tsvangirai appointed Mafume into the prime minister’s office and the MDC renewal spokesperson was repaying the favour by betraying the former union leader.
“Sit down, we don’t want to hear any of your nonsense,” one Tsvangirai supporter shouted.
However, Mafume would have none of it, and continued attacking Tsvangirai saying he was a pseudo-democrat.
“All of us, remember that all issues were to be discussed at principal level.
“Who was the principal who got $1,5 million (to build a mansion) when everybody else had boycotted government?
“Who is the principal who got more wives than others,” said an unfazed Mafume, provoking the MDC supporters to rise from their seats and demand that he sits down.
Others started trooping out of the room, while the heckling continued.
The chaos continued for about 10 minutes and the meeting was called off.
Prior to the chaos, Mwonzora described expelled MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, as traitors who betrayed Tsvangirai.
Mwonzora said Tsvangirai assigned the two with important tasks to negotiate with Zanu PF to consummate the government of national unity but said they failed to deliver. Mwonzora said the two should take responsibility for the lethargy in political reforms not place the blame on the MDC leader alone.
“We now have a rebellion in the MDC and who is leading the rebellion?” Mwonzora asked. “It is the people that were chosen as negotiators, people who were chosen as key ministers, the key negotiators in the management committee of Copac and Jomic,” Mwonzora said.
“If the GPA was a bad agreement, how can the same people escape blame?” Mwonzora said. “If the performance of the MDC in government was not good for example, the failure to pay civil servants salaries, how can these escape blame? In the crafting of the manifesto, the secretary-general was a key player and if the manifesto was bad, how can the SG escape blame? If we didn’t have a good message in the election, how can the SG not take blame?”
Before being heckled, Mafume had said Tsvangirai had betrayed the democratic struggle as he was now among the big men who built houses bigger than schools.
“You have people who built houses bigger than schools and hospitals,” Mafume said. “You have one person wanting to live in a house with 30 rooms. You now have a person with a house with more toilets than the constituency that I campaigned in. You have a toilet in the first floor, a toilet in the bath room, a toilet in the bedroom and a toilet at the gate.”