Harare, March 21, 2014 – The MDC-T leadership tide is for now swinging
in embattled leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s favour after three hard weeks
of meeting party structures, purging perceived enemies and managing
the return of four former senior party members to the fold.
Tsvangirai is locked in a mortal battle to lead and control the MDC-T,
Zimbabwe’s largest opposition political party, against senior party
leaders among them suspended deputy treasurer-general, Elton Mangoma,
secretary-general Tendai Biti and youth leaders Solomon Madzore and
Promise Mkwananzi who are clamouring for his immediate resignation.
The MDC-T “rebels” accuse Tsvangirai of failing to lead the party and
losing the presidential poll thrice in succession.
Tsvangirai for now has shown political dexterity by undercutting the
rug from his opponents through holding rallies and re-energizing his
supporters ahead of an expected extraordinary congress before the end
of the year. He has also taken the chance to invite other opposition
figures to join him in a united front against President Robert Mugabe
in the next election scheduled for 2018.
By turning the leadership debate into a popularity contest,
Tsvangirai, swelled by the rally attendances, has proven to his
challengers that he is still the face of the struggle – despite his
leadership in many respects being questioned with alarming frequency
among political stakeholders.
Job Sikhala, the MDC-99 leader, Joubert Mudzumwe from MDC-Mutambara
faction and the duo of Edward Mkhosi and Siyabonga Malandu from MDC
party led by Welshman Ncube have all responded to Tsvangirai’s call
for a united front. They may be insignificant to the battles ahead but
their return in perception values can never be underestimated.
The symbolic value of the development has not been lost to the Zanu PF
government. It did not waste time in issuing a statement trivialising
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Jonathan Moyo
released a media statement labeling the pacts as ‘a coalition of the
Moyo said: “Although apparently making news headlines in some sections
of the media, the attempts by the various opposition factions and
individuals to join forces are hopeless and doomed because when you
add a weak political faction or individual with another weak faction
or individual you do not get a strong result. Weak plus weak equals
Moyo added that each one of the leaders entering the pact were weak
since their vanquishing in the July 31 general election, where
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party for the first time since 2000
won more than two-thirds majority.
Zanu PF won 160 of the 210 contested National Assembly seats. MDC-T
won 49 seats while the remaining seat went to an independent
legislator Jonathan Samukange.
“Each and all of them without exception were weakened to their core.
This is why they are now all in disarray and divided into factions of
one sort or another,” Moyo added.
On the other end, Tsvangirai’s loyalists are silencing dissent from
the former trade union leader’s opponents through systematic purging
across the country. Mangoma was suspended, so were some provincial
executives in Mutare, Masvingo and recently Harare.
For now the leadership renewal team has gone underground and busy
searching for legal technicalities to solve this political question
long before the extraordinary congress is held.
For now, Tsvangirai can sleep a little easy at night basing the
support he still has among the grassroots supporters of his party. His
rallies take him to Manicaland, his home province this weekend. He is
expected to address two rallies, one in Chipinge and another one at
Watsomba Business Centre in Mutasa.
The jury is still out on whether these rallies and the defection of
other politicians from other parties are enough to save “Save” as he
is affectionately called from the renewal calls.