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Details of Mnangagwa’s visit to Tsvangirai emerge

By Mugove Tafirenyika

President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is battling colon cancer, at his residence in Highlands yesterday where they held private discussions for close to an hour.

Elizabeth and Morgan Tsvangirai seen here with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga
Elizabeth and Morgan Tsvangirai seen here with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga

Tsvangirai made public his health condition last year and ever since he has been in-and-out of hospital — a development that has triggered divisive succession talk in his party ahead of crucial elections this year.

Accompanied by his deputy, General (Rtd) Constantino Chiwenga, Mnangagwa addressed the media soon after the meeting, saying the MDC leader was on the mend.

“He is fine and recuperating very well and he says he will soon be going back for further medical check-ups in South Africa,” Mnangagwa said.

He brushed aside speculation that he had gone there to discuss the possibility of an inclusive government, insisting the situation in the country did not call for such.

“What’s the cause to form an inclusive government?” he asked. “You are allowed to lobby, it’s a democratic country. People are allowed to lobby for anything. Currently, there is no need,” he emphasised.

The Daily News can, however, report that the meeting was at the MDC leader’s request.

Tsvangirai had been eager to meet with Mnangagwa to discuss the way forward on elections and the worsening economic plight.

Mnangagwa then seized on the request to also check on Tsvangirai’s health, more so given that they are related.

Highly-placed sources familiar with the visit said the meeting was conducted in a friendly atmosphere so much that one would have confused it for an engagement among brothers.

They said Tsvangirai’s visitors pledged to materially support the frail opposition leader in his battle with cancer, which has drained the family’s savings.

Mnangagwa also undertook to look into the MDC leader’s long-standing grievances about his outstanding pension, accrued when he was prime minister in the inclusive government between 2009 and 2013.

It will not be the first time that Tsvangirai has been assisted by his rivals in Zanu PF.

Under Mugabe’s regime, Tsvangirai received about $70 000 to pay for his medical expenses.

Sources said Mnangagwa repeated his commitment during his meeting with Tsvangirai that the forthcoming polls would be free and fair, and even pledged to work closely with the opposition in the event that he is re-elected.

Analysts were unanimous yesterday that by taking time to visit Tsvangirai, Mnangagwa scored key political points to boost his political ratings.

They were, however, divided on whether the timing was right for the MDC leader to accept such a cunning gesture, considering it has a double-edged sword effect of showing Zimbabweans that Tsvangirai was too sick to be a factor going into the 2018 polls while at the same time projecting him as an empathetic leader.

Piers Pigou, a senior consultant at the International Crisis Group, said Mnangagwa has made an appropriate and powerful gesture but reckoned Tsvangirai was visibly unwell and needs to focus his energies on himself and his family.

Pigou urged the MDC leader to get on with the business of facilitating the process for his succession.

“There will be understandably cynical interpretations of the photo opportunity this provides to the president, but much depends on how it is played. His visiting … Tsvangirai, however, reflects a level of respect and political maturity rarely afforded an opposition figure; especially by the head of a party that had done its upmost to destroy Tsvangirai and his MDC,” he observed.

University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunugure concurred saying the president has demonstrated a high level of statesmanship; that he is a national leader and not just head of Zanu PF.

He said while his visit could well have been for other reasons, it was possible that he genuinely wanted to lend moral support to someone not feeling well.

“The fact that he was with his deputy also shows that Chiwenga too is moving in to assume the status of a national leader. So they have shown maturity and that is something that should be commended. They have shown Tsvangirai that he is not alone in his battle and that the nation empathises with his situation.

“It’s also possible that ED wanted to lend financial support to a former prime minister in terms of his package that he so much deserves,” said Masunungure.

Professor of world politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, Stephen Chan, said there was a sense of seeking to offer Tsvangirai some place in the new government.

Chan said Mnangagwa has sent a signal to foreign governments that his administration is looking at the opposition with respect unlike before.

“It may be rare in Zimbabwe, but in the United Kingdom, the prime minister and leader of the opposition often confer together,” said Chan.

“Tsvangirai certainly looks frail. Cancer can be very difficult and he should release the clinical reports on his condition as a reassurance to his supporters. Again, that would be the usual step in the UK where … (Theresa) May’s diabetes condition is fully known by the voting public,” he added.

Gladys Hlatywayo, a political analyst and civil rights campaigner, said it was normal for leaders across the political divide to constantly dialogue and share ideas.

“In this respect, the meeting of the two leaders might be seen as an attempt to build a new political culture predicated on political tolerance and maturity. Nevertheless, the genuineness of the visit is now tainted by the pictures of the opposition leader that are now circulating. It now appears the visit was to score a political point more than anything,” said Hlatywayo.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Tsvangirai’s deputy Nelson Chamisa described the development as positive.

“It’s a welcome thing, it’s African to care for one another; it’s very Zimbabwean, it shows the spirit of Ubuntu is still in us,” Chamisa said.

He added: “This is the new politics we want to see, the politics of peace, the politics of working together, the politics of feeling for one another. This is the direction and we hope it is the kind of talk that will be walked and talk that will be sustained. Going forward, we want this to be cascaded to the communities so that as we go into elections, people don’t fight each other especially when their leaders are able to sit down and converse like this”.

In a statement released after the meeting, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said Mnangagwa’s visit came just as Tsvangirai was about to leave the country for his routine medical check-up.

“We thank president Mnangagwa for his gesture to come and pay a visit to the former prime minister of the land. We thank him for his gesture, which is in keeping with our African culture,” he said.

Tamborinyoka said the two leaders discussed the current dire situation in the country, the plight of the people, the cash crisis afflicting the country, the urgency of free and fair elections to ensure a return to legitimacy as well as the need to engage the international community so that the country rejoins the family of nations. Daily News

  • Politics of poisoning opponents

  • Same news hapana dzimwe here

  • It was a private discussion as you say. Daft.

  • Good gesture,only dat pple tend to ignore the difference btwn rivarly and enemity.

  • an hour only they didn discuss anythn important aitongoona murwere

  • You said “private”!!! If they were private then why and how do we know about the results?? Stop lying!! Foolish journalist!!

  • heeeeei

    I did not read all of this post but my own honest position is that maybe EDM wants MT’s support? If not why visit an ailing opposition opponent? Zimbabweans, please, do not be fooled by some things that do not matter? Why was the former general there at this meeting? We are being diverted from the real issues. I want to be able to access my money at any time everywhere, and that is the issue and not visiting people who have to seek attention outside Zimbabwe, another big problem for ED. Even for himself as he was given a poison that cannot be treated anywhere. Those who want to know what it is please ask me. He knows he will not be around for very long. Remember what happened to Yasser Arafat, is what is happening to our beloved ED and who will take over? Just my honest and humble opinion, unless someone tells me otherwise as so far no one has, meaning I might just be right??????? Just my very honest opinion.

    • wilbert

      @ Heeee

      Yes, you are right to be concerned with the bread and butter issues such as when you are going to get your money without having to spend hours in bank queues. But you are making the fundamental mistake of thinking that politics does not matter. After 38 years of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption by these Zanu PF thugs it should have dawned on you that it is they doing that has landed the nation in this economic mess in the first place. If we are ever going to get out of the mess then we need to remove these corrupt and incompetent politicians and replace them with men and women with some common sense and whom we can hold to democratic account.

      “Seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added unto you,” said Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first post-independence president.

      Mugabe and his Zanu PF thugs understood Dr Nkrumah well enough when it came to fighting the white colonialists. But as soon as they had secured political power for themselves, they quickly switched; they told povo to forget about all these freedoms and human rights, they were for the petty bourgeois, and focus of the economic needs. Mugabe promised povo “Gutsva ruzhinji!” (Mass prosperity!) But when he failed to deliver, the people thought they could remove the tyrant only to discovered they needed the freedoms and human rights including the right to a meaningful say in the governance of the country, the very things Mugabe had said they did not need.

      It too the people of Zimbabwe nearly 20 years to come to the conclusion that they needed their political rights to effectively secure their economic rights and hence in the late 1990s they started demanding democratic reforms to regain their freedoms and human rights. Tsvangirai and his friends named their political party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to capture the popular national sentiment.

      It is deeply regrettable that MDC failed to bring about any meaningful democratic changed although they had many golden opportunities to do so. We still need the democratic changes to empower us to address the economic challenges!

      It is tragic that people like you are once again falling for the foolishness of putting economic rights before political rights.

      “We are being diverted from the real issues. I want to be able to access my money at any time everywhere, etc.,” you say! How naïve!

  • wilbert

    “Tsvangirai had been eager to meet with Mnangagwa to discuss the way forward on elections and the worsening economic plight.” Yeah right! As if he spent the five GNU years discussing matters of public interest!

    SADC leaders failed to get Tsvangirai and his MDC friends to implement even one democratic reform and yet that was the primary task the GNU was set up to do! Now that he and his MDC friends have no real political power, he wants to give the people the impression that he is cannot sleep at night thinking about their economic plight as if he does not have his own worries. Living in a $4 million mansion on zero income per year is no joke! There is some poetic justice in that he is paying for his sins for doing nothing to fix the economy when he had the chance!

    Tsvangirai and his MDC friends had kicked reforms into the prickly pear thicket because they were cocksure Mugabe had accepted them as fully paid members of the ruling elite. They were really shocked that Zanu PF rigged the 2013 elections and booted so many MDC leaders off the gravy train. Tsvangirai was lucky to hang on to the $4 million mansion or be it on zero income.

    Of course, Tsvangirai was very eager to meet Mnangagwa to beg for money. Tsvangirai still considers himself a member of the country’s ruling elite, he believes Zanu PF cannot rule the country without him and MDC, and is therefore entitled to the choice cuts of the looted wealth.

    MDC lost political credibility when they failed to implement the reforms and the people saw their opportunity to ditch the party when the coup plotters booted Mugabe out of power. They people were so glad to see Mugabe go they did not care who took his place. When they finally realised that Mnangagwa and his fellow coup plotters are nothing more than the flip side of the same Mugabe coin, they people will not vote for Zanu PF!

    Tsvangirai does not deserve the mansion, have his SA hospital bill paid and the pension he is now after no more than Mugabe deserves the Blue Roof mansion, his Singapore hospital bill paid and all the billions of looted wealth he has amassed. These men have destroyed the nation’s economy, basic health and education services, etc. to gratify their insatiable greed for wealth and power. They are filthy rich whilst ¾ of our people now live in abject poverty on US$1.00 or less a day. The least the nation must do is recover some of the looted wealth and not reward the looters for impoverishing the nation!

  • Asi hmuchina zvkutiudza hre is it a daily visit n what do we gain from that