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PEACEFUL protests are not illegal in Britain, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters were told Wednesday as rival structures of the divided party rowed over demonstrations planned against the former premier during his trip to the UK.

Disgruntled party members in the UK denied they planned to embarrass the former prime minister by pelting him with eggs and such, insisting he would be treated with respect but not fear.

Following its shellacking in last year’s elections, the MDC has acrimoniously split between those who want Tsvangirai gone and those backing him to remain party leader with the divisions also affecting the party’s external structures.

A group in the UK backing the leadership renewal effort spearheaded by secretary general Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma, has scheduled protests against Tsvangirai during his trip to the UK this week.

Rivals however, claimed there were plans to try and embarrass the MDC leader by pelting him with eggs at a rally for supporters scheduled for Birmingham on Saturday.

Members of the Renewal Team UK rejected the allegations as “irresponsible scare-mongering … devoid of logic”.

They insisted that MDC supporters in the UK wanted and deserved answers from Tsvangirai over several issues including the alleged misappropriation of funds they donated to the party over the years.

“Members of the Zimbabwean community especially those who are MDC members have genuine questions that need answers from Tsvangirai,” said a spokesperson in a statement Wednesday.

“The members in the UK still remember the misappropriated funds, the corrupt handling of elections which led to the fielding of a controversial team in the 2013 national elections.

“The violence following the aice from other leaders on the party to renew can never be allowed to continue. These are some of the issues members need to send a clear message to Morgan Tsvangirai.”

Tsvangirai, his authority shaken by the revolt and standing among financiers undermined by alleged scandals in his private life, will seek to reassure allies in the West that he remains the leading opposition voice in Zimbabwe.

His official engagements will include a Friday presentation organised by the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House.

The former premier is expected to “reflect on recent developments within MDC-T, the importance of strengthening opposition politics for Zimbabwe’s future and the role that international partners can play in Zimbabwe’s democratic progress.”

He will then travel to Birmingham Saturday to address supporters at a rally and also attend a dinner organised to help raise funds for the party’s October elective congress.

Members of the Renewal Team UK said they were law-abiding citizens and would “send their message to Morgan Tsvangirai in a calm, collected and peaceful manner”.

“As Zimbabwean residents of the United Kingdom, Renewal cadres understand and respect the laws of the land and to just recklessly throw allegations against them is irresponsible and devoid of logic,” they said.

“The Renewal cadres in the UK understand that demonstrations are a vital part of a democratic society and have a long and respected tradition in this country.

“Many of the rights and freedoms we enjoy today were gained because people were prepared to go out on the streets and protest.

“The MDC Renewal Team is thus making it clear that it shall use this opportunity to send a message to Morgan Tsvangirai and his aisers that the party is mightier than an individual that the movement will not tolerate any intimidation and violence.

“The party will not tolerate corruption and corrupt people to drag the movement into the opposite direction to the founding values.

“The West Midlands Police have been informed about the impending (demonstrations) and are aware of the process contrary to (claims) being peddled by some quarters of the media who wish to make it sound like it will be a war zone.”

Source : New Zimbabwe