By Fortune Tazvida
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was booed during a speech to exiles in London after he urged them to come back home and rebuild the country.
The message did not go well with the 1000 plus crowd in the Anglican Cathedral in Southwark who felt it was still not safe to go back to Zimbabwe even under the unity government with Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai’s appeal was greeted by boos and chants of “Mugabe must go,” referring to 85-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
When Tsvangirai could not make himself heard above the crowd, he left the pulpit for two minutes before returning to face questions.
He added: “I did not say ‘pack your bags tomorrow,’ I said ‘you should now start thinking about coming home’.”
Spurred on by the Zimbabwe Vigil and Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR), two groups accused of exploiting asylum seekers, the crowd reminded Tsvangirai of the continued violations of the unity deal by Zanu PF and Mugabe.
One MDC official told Nehanda Radio the fault lay with the MDC structures in the United Kingdom who failed to advise Tsvangirai of the ‘anti-unity government’ feeling in the diaspora.
‘A lot of people have pending asylum claims and this unity government is jeopardizing their chances of being granted status and staying in the UK,’ the official told us.
The ZimVigil and ROHR also organised demonstrations at the venue which cynics dismissed as nothing more than advertising their ‘business ventures.’
‘You see these guys have made a lot of money out of exploiting desperate asylum seekers. They effectively sell letters to asylum seekers who in turn use them in their claims with the UK Home Office. Today was a day to market themselves even more,’ the official told us.
By late Saturday afternoon Tsvangirai was threatening to pull out of a planned private dinner with interested members of the public and the business community. Tickets for the event were going for £75 each. ‘The Prime Minister is upset with the reception he got and we are trying to get him to change his mind about boycotting the dinner in protest.
Mother of two Ema Chamboko who was present at the Cathedral told us that ‘no one should be forced to go back to Zimbabwe against their will but the behaviour towards Tsvangirai was a disgrace. This man has sacrificed a lot for us and most of us won our asylum claims on the back of his sweat. I wanted to hang my head in shame. All he was saying was come back and help me.’