Ts­van­gi­rai, Mu­juru dis­agree over po­si­tions

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Tichaona Zin­doga Harare Bureau

A PRO­POSED op­po­si­tion coali­tion be­tween Mr Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai of the MDC-T party and Zim­babwe Peo­ple First’s Dr Joice Mu­juru ap­pears doomed amid bick­er­ing over who should lead the united camp.

A mar­riage of con­ve­nience be­tween the long-time op­po­si­tion leader, Mr Ts­van­gi­rai, and the for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Mu­juru ap­peared on course when the two joined forces at a rally in Gweru last Au­gust.

It is un­der­stood that a pro­vi­sional frame­work for a conso­ci­a­tional thrust be­tween the two par­ties has been put in place ahead of har­monised elec­tions in 2018.

These past weeks, though, have seen dis­cord from both camps as they tus­sle for lead­er­ship of the pro­posed coali­tion lead­ing to harsh ex­changes of words among sup­port­ers and of­fi­cials.

The lat­est turn of events has seen Dr Mu­juru, in an in­ter­view pub­lished this week, un­der­min­ing and cast­ing doubt on Mr Ts­van­gi­rai’s cred­i­bil­ity as a leader and in­sin­u­at­ing that he does not com­mand lo­cal sup­port.

She said that Mr Ts­van­gi­rai was more re­spected abroad than at home, where he lacked the lib­er­a­tion cre­den­tials and re­spect.

Dr Mu­juru told the Africa Re­port in an in­ter­view: “As Peo­ple First, we re­spect Ts­van­gi­rai. He helped us be­cause our fear and our re­spect [for Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe] re­ally dam­aged us. We could not be bold the way Ts­van­gi­rai was, but I re­spect him for that. We know the strengths and weak­nesses of each party. Ts­van­gi­rai’s strength res­onates with you out­siders, not with Zim­bab­weans,” she said.

Mr Ts­van­gi­rai’s party has of­ten been ac­cused of be­ing a west­ern project and a pup­pet to in­sti­tute regime change on be­half of for­eign in­ter­ests.

Dr Mu­juru said her out­fit is home-grown and has a buy-in from war vet­er­ans.

“The war vet­er­ans un­der­stand what was miss­ing in Ts­van­gi­rai’s out­fit. [… We are] now map­ping out which ar­eas and what we can start work­ing on to­gether,” she said.

Re­cently, an “el­der” at Peo­ple First, Mr Dzika­mai Mavhaire re­port­edly called the MDC-T leader an “id­iot” who would not lead ahead of Dr Mu­juru, a state­ment his party at­tempted to smother with a pur­ported re­but­tal.

How­ever, ten­sion be­tween the two sides, es­pe­cially on the grass­roots and among sup­port­ers, is ris­ing amid dis­agree­ments over who would lead a united front.

In­de­pen­dent politi­cian Mr Temba Mliswa has also waded in the de­bate, sid­ing with Mr Ts­van­gi­rai.

He told a daily news­pa­per this week that, “If Ts­van­gi­rai de­cides to ac­com­mo­date Mai Mu­juru, then so be it, but that man is not only pop­u­lar and gen­uine, he is also a nat­u­ral leader and a fa­ther fig­ure. The peo­ple of Zim­babwe like him and we can’t take that away from him.”

He blamed Peo­ple First for lack of or­gan­i­sa­tion and prin­ci­ples, wit­ness the sidelin­ing of its found­ing fig­ures like for­mer State Se­cu­rity min­is­ter Mr Didy­mus Mu­tasa and for­mer Zanu-PF spokesper­son Mr Ru­gare Gumbo.

Spokesper­son of the MDC-T Mr Obert Gutu was wor­ried about the es­ca­lat­ing bick­er­ing.

“The MDC is a so­cial demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal party that pas­sion­ately ab­hors the use of hate lan­guage in both pri­vate and pub­lic po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” he told our Harare Bureau.

“As a party, we have a very firm con­vic­tion not to in­sult fel­low com­rades in the demo­cratic strug­gle against Zanu-PF dic­ta­tor­ship. As such, we will not waste our pre­cious time com­ment­ing on peo­ple who al­legedly in­sult our leader or in­deed, any of our party cadres. We are not petty. We have got big­ger fish to fry.”

He ex­plained: “We will co­a­lesce on val­ues and poli­cies. We are not ob­sessed with po­lit­i­cal power as an end in it­self, we be­lieve in ush­er­ing in a new re­fresh­ing, pro­gres­sive and demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion in Zim­babwe. To us in the MDC, val­ues and ethos are paramount and per­ma­nent while po­si­tions are tem­po­rary; they come and go.”

Mr Jeal­ousy Mawarire, the ZimPF spokesman, claimed the two par­ties had “a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship”.

How­ever, he said since the en­vis­aged coali­tion had not yet ma­te­ri­alised, par­ties were free to can­vass for sup­port for their lead­ers and ap­peared to jus­tify why his side was root­ing for the lead­er­ship of Dr Mu­juru.

“You must un­der­stand that coali­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions do not stop in­di­vid­ual party pro­grammes. In­de­pen­dent par­ties will have ral­lies where they will nat­u­rally go and sell their leader and they have a right to do so,” said Mr Mawarire.

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