By Richard Muponde
Opposition MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora, in an apparent show of allegiance to the ruling Zanu PF party, yesterday pledged to co-operate with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to solve the problems afflicting the country, adding that it was no longer time for opposing for the sake of opposition.
Mwonzora said this when he was giving a vote of thanks during the launch of the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Victoria Falls.
The event, led by Mnangagwa, was also attended by members of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), a loose coalition of party leaders who contested the 2018 presidential election.
“We have changed the way to do things. We now want politics of tolerance and to work together putting the people of Zimbabwe first,” he said.
“We don’t want politics of hunger, hate and intolerance. As leaders of the opposition we should work for the betterment of the economy to save our people and also support the vaccination programme.”
Mwonzora added that it was out of order for opposition political leaders to encourage the public not to participate in the vaccination programme since the vaccines were safe.
Earlier on, Mnangagwa had called for entrenchment of patriotism and unity of purpose.
Mwonzora’s move has been viewed as affirmation of allegations that the MDC-T, which has recalled about 40 legislators and 80 councillors affiliated to the MDC Alliance, has all along been working with the ruling party to decimate the main opposition party led by Nelson Chamisa.
Just last week, Mwonzora ordered his party MPs to stop heckling or walking out on Mnangagwa.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the Chamisa-led party would continue to hold the ruling Zanu PF party to account, champion the cause of the people and be the voice of the suffering masses.
“We will take all necessary steps to stop the attempt by Zanu PF and its surrogates who usurped the will of the people to create a one-party State. The regime must respect the democratic and constitutional rights of the citizens to challenge its policies and offer alternatives for the betterment of the nation,” Mahere said.
Mahere dismissed Mwonzora’s claims that the MDC Alliance was against the COVID-19 inoculation programme.
“Fighting the pandemic is a collective effort that offers no room for politicking. We support the roll out of a widespread vaccination drive in the fight against COVID-19.”
She said there was need for transparency in the procurement of vaccines, adding that the inoculation programme should prioritise frontline workers and the vulnerable.
Meanwhile, a statement by the MDC-T revealed that Mwonzora was actually invited to the Victoria Falls event by Justice permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza, who is also Polad secretary.
In a letter addressed to Mwonzora in his capacity as MDC-T president and dated March 23, 2021, Mabhiza revealed that government had already arranged transport and other logistics for him.
Mwonzora was also said to have been invited in his capacity as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, a position he took over from Thokozani Khupe (proportional representation MP)
His spokesperson Penias Damba told NewsDay yesterday at the party headquarters that: “When President ED (Mnangagwa) invited all leaders of political parties to participate in the vaccination programme through Twitter, we said we can’t go there over a tweet message. We said we want an invitation. Mwonzora went on to be invited officially to attend the national event. We don’t want to be politicising COVID-19.
“It’s a national event where people unite to fight the pandemic. We have nothing to do with Polad. This is not a Polad event.”
Mwonzora rose to the helm of MDC-T party in December last year after polling 883 votes out of the total 1 027 votes case to dislodge Khupe, although the latter has disputed the election results. News Day