By Mugove Tafirenyika
Former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda has urged opposition MDC to use the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s death to unite, if the party is to realise the founding MDC president’s dream.
The country’s main opposition party is facing the threat of damaging splits, just months before a historic election, as feuding has erupted in the wake of Tsvangirai’s death last week.
Tsvangirai’s final months were accompanied by increasingly public quarrelling among his three deputies — Nelson Chamisa, Thokozani Khupe and Elias Mudzuri —over who will would succeed him as head of the MDC.
The party — which has a history of splintering — had been trying to reunite and fight the coming election as the MDC Alliance, but the death of its widely admired founder triggered renewed rivalry.
Sibanda told the Daily News yesterday that he hoped that the three MDC leaders “will see value in uniting so that Tsvangirai’s vision will be realised”.
“The MDC should emerge from this even stronger, if the leadership understands Tsvangirai’s vision and what he would have wanted. His death should be the glue to keep them together, his ideas and belief in no violent contestation of political of ideas that saw him avoid a potential civil war by agreeing to negotiate with Zanu PF for an inclusive government should keep the party together,” Sibanda said.
New divisions could mean that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the governing Zanu PF face little opposition at the election, which is expected before July.
Voters will go to the polls for the first time since Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since 1980, was ousted in November after a military intervention.
Things came to a head in the MDC cockpit when Chamisa, called a meeting at MDC headquarters in Harare the day after Tsvangirai’s death.
The meeting of the party’s national executive and the national council — the highest decision making body in the MDC in-between congresses — named Chamisa as the interim MDC leader for a year to drive the process towards a congress to elect a substantive leader according to the party constitution.
Following the party’s two meetings hundreds of party activists gathered outside the building to honour Tsvangirai — but without the party’s other deputies, Khupe and Mudzuri.
Afterwards Khupe lashed out at Chamisa saying his decision to convene the twin meetings was out of his quest to unconstitutionally grab power in the MDC.
“Tsvangirai dies and you go on with a meeting to appoint yourself as leader. How shameful,” she told the local press.
“You are power-hungry. You can’t even wait for two days to have Tsvangirai buried.”
Shortly before Tsvangirai’s death, Mudzuri had visited him in hospital in Johannesburg to establish his own claim to be the rightful heir.
“It is I and no one else,” Mudzuri told South African television.
“People must respect authority as given by my president and make sure they work towards … winning the 2018 elections.”
On his part, Chamisa who is seen as the popular choice to succeed Tsvangirai in and outside the party has called for the party to unite and be disciplined.
Tsvangirai’s burial — which is being assisted by the State — is taking place today at his rural Humanikwa Village in Buhera. DailyNews