By Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Under-pressure MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has broken his silence on the attempted coup staged by rebels seeking to topple him from the party’s presidency — describing his opponents as “little men” who could never remove him through illegal means.
Addressing his supporters in his rural home of Buhera on Sunday,
Tsvangirai also described the rebellion as a “non-event”.
“Handidzingwi netsamba. Ndinodzingwa necongress (I cannot be suspended by letters but by the MDC congress),” Tsvangirai declared.
Some senior MDC officials, including secretary-general Tendai Biti claimed to have suspended Tsvangirai from the MDC presidency at the weekend, and announced that they had taken over the affairs of the embattled party.
The rebels said the suspensions on Tsvangirai and his top leadership were aimed at reviving the 15-year-old labour-backed movement, which they claimed had been dented by the MDC leader.
Saturday’s meeting, chaired by legislator Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, gave Sekai Holland the mandate to lead the party on an interim basis until a congress is convened. It also “lifted” the suspensions imposed on Elton Mangoma, Last Maengahama, Jacob Mafume and Promise Mkhwananzi, who had fronted the initial rebellion against Tsvangirai.
Speaking at his Sunday meeting with his supporters, Tsvangirai said he had been betrayed by some of his closest lieutenants, singling out Toendepi Shonhe and siblings Solomon and Paul Madzore, who he said were close relatives who had turned against him.
“Kana ndatadza saTsvangirai taura kuti watadza pakati pakati, hatiendei mberi nezvakati zvakati, totauriranaka. Ko zvekuhwandirana zvinei? Tinoda kubvumirana, toenda kucongress woti ndinonzi Mangoma ndoda ku-challenger president. Vanhu voti zvakanaka, gwede gwede. Haikona kuita zvinhu zvechi-crook uchitaura nyaya yedemocracy. Ndiyo democracy yacho here yekuita mameetings muri vaviri?” Tsvangirai said.
(If I have done wrong as Tsvangirai, you should say this is where you erred. Let’s move forward like this, not to do this clandestinely. We must agree and then we go to congress.
Then you can say I am (Elton) Mangoma and I want to challenge Tsvangirai. Then people say can you square off. Not to raise flimsy democracy arguments. Is that democracy, convening a meeting with two people, holding meetings with a rented crowd?)”.
The MDC leader went on to describe the rebels as “ignoramuses”.
“Chinhu chinongonetsa ini ndofunga chibharanzi. Pane mwana wasekuru vangu vanonzi VaShonhe ndakamudaidza kuoffice. Sinyoro, tingadai tichitemba nemi asi you are the one on the front. I told him I am going to tell your mother that your child is selling out. Munhu ari kutengesa Tsvangirai vanhu vemuno muBuhera sevazukuru vangu vanaMadzore. What wrong have I done to you?” lamented Tsvangirai.
The former prime minister, who shared power with Mugabe in an uneasy coalition government formed at the behest of Sadc, traced the current turmoil rocking the MDC to Zanu PF.
“I want to tell you why this is happening. In 2005, when Welshman Ncube (leader of the smaller MDC formation), and (Thabo) Mbeki (former South African President) said the MDC cannot go to the negotiations this strong, it should be the junior partner. Now this has come back again. Zanu PF knows that they cannot move this country (forward) without the MDC, so let us divide the MDC so that when we go to the negotiations it will be Biti, Welsh and Tsvangirai so that these other two will keep backing Zanu PF.
“If you want change, why are you moving from the majority? Isn’t it that you want change? Why forming a splinter (party)? It means you want Zanu PF to continue in power. Zvino hero dambudziko MDC hanzi kususpender Tsvangirai? Vanoshura vakomana vaya handichada kutaura nezvekuparty because arasika arasika,” said Tsvangirai, pouring scorn on efforts to remove him “illegally”.
In a clear sign that Tsvangirai is still keen on building bridges with all opposition parties, he reiterated his often-stated position to form a grand coalition, but was swift to add that “if a person wants to leave they are free to leave”.
Tsvangirai, who last month pre-maturely claimed that there was no crisis in the party “cockpit”, had no kind words for Biti, whom he alleged had no political base.
“What can Biti do?” Tsvangirai asked rhetorically. “A person who cannot organise five people ndotya munhu akadaro naMangoma? (Mangoma and Biti don’t worry me). We saw that with Welsh, the script is the same, (although) the actors are different. They will not go anywhere truly, with the way those people sold out, betraying the people of Zimbabwe.”
He said the formation of the mooted and so-called United Democratic Front by the rebels would be a monumental flop because the people at the forefront did not enjoy grassroots support.
“I told Mangoma when he handed me the letter that uchafuratira museve nekutemba mhepo. Akandishura murume uya,” (This will backfire, he surprised me), said Tsvangirai. Daily News