Home » Governance » Tsvangirai’s Unity Posturing Rings Hollow [opinion]

Not a day passes without reports of fighting in the MDC-T, which more often than not are turning nasty these days.

Just over the weekend, some opposition supporters in Gweru fell foul of bitter party rivals and were attacked — and a woman was left in her bra after she had her t-shirt torn — for allegedly being aligned to Settlement Chikwinya.

Chikwinya is said to be among people calling for leadership renewal in the MDC-T. So how do recent declarations of “unity” in the MDC-T by Morgan Tsvangirai sound against a backdrop of mounting leadership quarrels in his party?

Hollow if not exactly ostrich-like.

During a press conference on March 25, 2014, Tsvangirai said, “We have discussed our issues and there is now unprecedented harmony and unity of purpose in the MDC-T cockpit. I can assure you that in those five hours of no-holds barred discussions, we told each other the brutal, but honest truth that will save this party and ensure the security of faith and trust the people have bestowed on us.”

Interestingly, events that succeeded Tsvangirai’s declaration of unity in the MDC-T did not only put to test the veracity of such an accord but also cast aspersions on the opposition leader’s political integrity.

Three days after the declaration of the “unity pact”, Tsvangirai was in Zhombe for a rally.

Despite wanting to present a faccedilade of unity, Tsvangirai slipped during his address and tore into his leadership contestants, accusing them of being “tired of fighting Mugabe”.

He angrily declared that “we are now at what we call the Red Sea moment and some of our comrades want to go back to Egypt . . . let me say if you have lost faith in the struggle, please rest.”

Now, with the ink of the “unity pact” barely dry, why would Tsvangirai berate those he is supposed to have brokered peace with?

During the rally, there was a brazen display of placards denouncing Mangoma, Tendai Biti, Settlement Chikwinya, and others suspected to be in the leadership change camp.

This dramatically exposed leadership squabbling in the MDC-T despite the false bravado of oneness.

Although MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa later tried to have the placards burnt, the world had already seen through the charade of unity in the opposition party.

Worse still, all the “repentant” leadership renewal proponents were nowhere to be seen during the rally and their supposed penitence remained unconfirmed.

More tellingly, on March 29, 2014, four days after the announcement of the “unity pact”, reports from Bulawayo indicated that the MDC-T provincial executive was embroiled in an explosive leadership tussle pitting the pro-Tsvangirai faction against the leadership renewal team.

The pro-Tsvangirai team was trying to elbow out the MDC-T provincial chairman, Gorden Moyo, who angered them by failing to attend Tsvangirai’s last rally in the province.

This leadership catfight was so bad that another suspected leadership renewal sympathiser and MP for Luveve, Reggie Moyo, had his car tyres deflated by youths from the other faction.

To further put debunk Tsvangirai’s claims of unity in the MDC-T, the party’s deputy treasurer-general, Elton Mangoma who has written letters challenging Tsvangirai to step aside, professed ignorance of the “unity accord”.

He dismissed the possibilities of such a pact ever happening. He once again called on Tsvangirai to restore constitutionalism in party processes and allow the free flow of diverse opinions in the opposition party.

Taking an unapologetic stance, Mangoma reiterated that Tsvangirai had no leadership qualities.

He said, “I worked with him, I know him, he has no capacity, he is not fit. He must step down. I meant just that. That is why I signed the letter I gave to him.”

Mangoma added that he would not want future generations to blame him for endorsing Tsvangirai as a leader when he knew he didn’t have capacity.

Mangoma did not mince his word and went on to conduct political rallies in Masvingo and Manicaland.

In assessing his rallies, Mangoma said, “I spoke to people who gave their views on the leader who is acting unconstitutionally . . . The response is overwhelming and the people even felt that I left out a lot of things in my letters to Tsvangirai.”

With such polarisation, how can one talk of unity?

Tsvangirai’s unity talk took another jab on Saturday April 5, 2014 when a group calling itself the “Renewal MovementTeam” added a new twist to the charade of oneness in the MDC-T.

The group announced that their differences with Tsvangirai were irreconcilable.

The group’s spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, said Tsvangirai “had exhibited a serious departure from core values as evidenced by the use of violence and a blatant disregard of the party’s constitution.”

Mafume made this announcement in the presence of the MDC-T Youth Assembly Secretary-General, Promise Mkwananzi and party activist, Last Maengahama.

Previously, Mkwananzi’s status in the party has been a point of contention that revealed widening cracks and purging of rivals in the opposition party.

On March 30, 2014, the MDC-T Youth Assembly Spokesperson, Clifford Hlatshwayo, announced that Mkwananzi had been suspended as the party’s youth secretary-general for allegedly fanning factionalism.

However, the party’s national spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora refuted Hlatshwayo’s pronouncements saying the Youth Assembly had no constitutional right to suspend Mkwananzi. Such administrative discord is worrisome when coming from a ‘united’ party.

Given the high level of purging, mudslinging and name calling in the MDC-T, it is apparent that there is no unity to talk about.

It is clear that the “unity pact” announced by Tsvangirai on March 25, 2014 is a fraud designed to hoodwink the world on the state of affairs in his sinking party.

This betrays Tsvangirai’s fruitless attempts to save a party that is imploding under his stewardship.

Such a faccedilade of unity could have fooled the party’s funders into extending the much-needed financial lifeline to the limping political outfit.

It would also have fooled the undiscerning MDC-T supporters into believing that Tsvangirai has steadied the ship against the stormy waters.

Tsvangirai could be trying to sell a dummy of unity to both his supporters and funders in order to secure some financial and political mileage.

Source : The Herald