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MDC-T Manicaland Province defy Tsvangirai over Makoni and Mutsekwa

By Tatenda Mabasa | Nehanda Mutare Bureau |

MUTARE – A bitter war of words has erupted between the insubordinate MDC-T Manicaland executive and its national superiors over attempts to impose Mavambo leader Dr Simba Makoni and Mr Giles Mutsekwa at the expense of popular candidates in Makoni Central and Chikanga-Dangamvura, respectively.

Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai
Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai at the MDC-T rally inside Sakubva Stadium in Mutare

The Julius Magarangoma-led executive, which enjoys the behind-the-scene backing of MDC-T secretary general and Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Energy Minister Elton Mangoma and party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora – is rallying behind Mr Patrick Sagandira and human rights lawyer Arnold Tsunga in the contentious constituencies.

This has dealt a lethal blow to party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who was engineering soft landings for the former finance minister in Makoni Central and his ally Mutsekwa in Chikanga-Dangamvura – where odds are visibly against him – through alleged dictatorship.

The infighting over the two constituencies resulted in Mr Tsvangirai failing to introduce party candidates during his star rally at a packed Sakubva Stadium on Saturday.

Nehanda Radio understands that Dr Makoni attended Saturday’s MDC-T Sakubva rally on the understanding that he would be unveiled as “the endorsed candidate” for Makoni Central.

However, the move was scuttled following a heated meeting between Mr Tsvangirai and the provincial executive who resisted the initiative by refusing to recognise and campaign for Dr Makoni and Mr Mutsekwa, leaving Mr Tsvangirai in a quandary.

After being left in the cold and in an act of desperation, Dr Makoni on Wednesday allegedly attended Zanu PF politburo member Patrick Chinamasa’s rally in Rugoyi.

The move has given ammunition to his MDC-T detractors who regard it as an indication of “double standards, inconsistency and endorsement of Chinamasa”.

However, Dr Makoni’s chief election agent and MKD executive member Dr Dunmore Kusano denied the assertion and instead accused Zanu PF of busing its regalia-clad supporters to Dr Makoni’s Rugoyi rallies.

“Dr Makoni had two rallies in the constituency and Zanu PF supporters invaded the rallies clad in their party regalia. Dr Makoni is on the ground campaigning, and Zanu PF supporters were brought in several trucks to colour the outlook of our rallies,” said Dr Kusano.

Earlier on MKD Manicaland spokesman George Hukuimwe had told Nehanda Radio that the MDC-T candidate pulled out to back Dr Makoni.

“I can now confirm that the MDC-T candidate for Makoni Central (Mr Patrick Sagandira) withdrew from the race to give way to Dr Makoni and that (our) MKD candidate for Makoni West Mr Josphat Hunidzarira, withdrew his candidature to give way to MDC-T candidate Mr Webber Chinyadza,” said Hukuimwe.

However, MDC-T provincial bigwigs were singing a different hymn and accused Mr Tsvangirai of “trying the impossible”.

MDC-T heavyweights accuse Mr Tsvangirai of candidate-shopping and angling Dr Makoni for the finance portfolio so as to eliminate Biti, with whom he is tussling over the control of the party. MDC-T Manicaland spokesman Mr Pishai Muchauraya said Sagandira and Tsunga have not withdrawn.

Reports are that Mr Tsvangira had instructed Mr Tsunga to withdraw to take up the post of provincial council chairperson.

“It is a lie that the two have pulled out. We are solidly behind them as MDC-T Manicaland and victory is certain. Yes, there were attempts from the top, but they failed. We will be helping the pair during campaigns as a provincial executive.

“You cannot withdraw candidates who was elected through a credible internal electoral process, supervised by the national leadership, in order to impose Mutsekwa and Simba Makoni, who is a candidate of MKD and president of that party,” Mr Muchauraya.

“We are supporting Tsunga and Sagandira. You cannot entice them into withdrawing by promising positions that do not exist. Mutsekwa has no support and will lose to Tsunga. He is causing the arrest of party supporters on the pretext that they are pulling down his posters,” said Mr Muchauraya.

Mr Magarangoma was more brutal in attacking the national executive for imposing Mutsekwa on the electorate.

“For the record, I’m supporting Arnold Tsunga for Dangamvura – Chikanga, because he is the people’s choice. That point was made abundantly clear during the confirmation process. All attempts to impose Mutsekwa will be resisted by the same people. If we don’t speak now, then we shall forever remain tongue less,” Mr Magarangoma.

Tsunga wrote on his Facebook timeline: “National leadership tried to resolve Dangamvura/Chikanga impasse by suggesting to structures that Mutsekwa goes for MP-ship while I go for provincial chairmanship. There was no consensus as people flatly and loudly disagreed with this proposal. Consultations with people will continue and intensify but for now matters remain the same.”

The discord was likely to work in favour of Zanu-PF’s Micah Reketai Duru.