Fungi Kwaramba and Mugove Tafirenyika 10 August 2017
HARARE – MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai electrified the crowd at the
National People’s Party (NPP)’s inaugural convention held in the capital
yesterday, where he belaboured his commitment towards working with former
vice president Joice Mujuru in order to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
The 65-year-old politician, who had been invited to the convention to give
a solidarity message, received a standing ovation when he promised NPP
supporters that a coalition with Mujuru would be formed no matter what if
the country’s deeply-divided opposition parties are to end Mugabe’s
Tsvangirai, who is now shaving his head bald after losing his hair to
colon cancer, kept his audience captivated by harping on his favourite
talking-points that he has used around the country in recent days.
He emphasised that there were no differences, politically, or in terms of
policy between Mujuru’s party, and the MDC.
“Democracy is a very difficult proposition in Africa but this path you
have taken to seek the mandate and legitimacy from the people is the right
one. On this day, you have overcome the doubts of many,” he said.
“I was listening to the proposals you make and I see that there is no
conflict with our ideals and values, so where is the problem? We can’t be
divided on the basis of personalities,” Tsvangirai said to uproarious
He added amid the cheer: “If we are agreed on the direction that we need
to take, why don’t we put our differences aside and be united? We launched
the MDC alliance last week and we said we believe in the big tent and that
2018 is the only opportunity that we have as the opposition movement to
He spoke amid indications that Mujuru, who was fired from Zanu PF and
government in 2014 on allegations of plotting a bloodless palace coup
against Mugabe, could lead another coalition comprising opposition parties
that are offshoots of the ruling Zanu PF party, ahead of polls in 2018.
Mujuru’s party was among opposition movements that were left out of the
pact signed between Tsvangirai and seven other fringe political parties
that included the People’s Democratic Party led by Tendai Biti and the
smaller MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube.
Both Ncube and Biti are former secretaries-general of a united MDC under
the leadership of Tsvangirai.
Mujuru, who had a tiff with Tsvangirai over the leadership of the
coalition, was conspicuous by her absence at the MDC Alliance weekend
rally, which nominated the former trade unionist to lead the group.
At the NPP’s convention yesterday, it was quite clear that Mujuru’s
supporters have no qualms with their leaders forging an alliance.
Delivering his solidarity speech after Mujuru before a diverse crowd that
packed the Harare Sports Centre, Tsvangirai did not further stoke his
ongoing feud with Mujuru over the leadership of the alliance.
Part of the crowd at the NPP convention. Pics: Annie Mpalume
The crowd, drawn from the country’s 10 provinces, painted the venue blue,
as supporters danced to the party jingles, while controversial musician
Hosea Chipanga was at hand to entertain the gathering.
The veteran opposition leader, who delivered a stump speech sharpened for
his audience, said: “NPP is not our enemy and let me say atungamira
haatori nzira, (Being the first to take a certain route won’t block others
from following the same path).”
There have been growing calls for Mujuru and Tsvangirai to join hands and
form a formidable opposition that could give Zanu PF a run for its money
come next year.
However, the issue of positions, particularly the thorny question of who
should lead the proposed grand alliance, is threatening to scuttle the
Analysts opine that parties coalescing around either Tsvangirai or Mujuru
stand the best chance to defeat Mugabe.
Mujuru, who was first to speak, promised her supporters that if elected
president, she would, among other things, overhaul the controversial
Indigenisation Act as well as bring sanity to the land reform programme.
She also promised to end endemic corruption as well as pursue a policy of
national healing to bring closure to outstanding cases of human rights
By comparison to Tsvangirai, Mujuru’s speech was tame.
Mujuru said: “That there is need for a grand coalition is no longer a
question, we need to give citizens what they want. You want an opposition
that is united. You want to air your views on what leader you want.”
She suggested that the parties should either hold primary elections to
vote on an agreeable representative or agree by way of consensus.
Mujuru addressing the crowd.
“We have overstretched your patience, but remember we are from different
parties and you need to give us more time so that we can reach out to each
other . . . I can assure you that this time we will cross to the Promised
“Let us register to vote and inspect the voters’ roll. We are going to
agree because we don’t want to be remembered as the cadres on the way to
freedom,” said Mujuru.
Also present at the NPP convention was Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa who
also received a resounding welcome from a section of the crowds who were
chanting his name.
Meanwhile, Mujuru was confirmed as the NPP president while John Shumba
Mvundura and Samuel Sipepa Nkomo will be her two deputies.
Former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire was confirmed the national
chairperson with Gift Nyandoro being confirmed as the party
War veterans Bernard Manyadza, aka Parker Chipoyera, is the NPP organising
secretary while Marian Chombo was confirmed as the leader of the women’s
Chombo will be deputised by Gladys Hadebe while Angel Masiye was elected
secretary-general, Nomalanga Khumalo (organising secretary) and Laizer
Shindi as treasurer.
Lloyd Masiya was elected national youth chairperson and he will be
deputised by Trevor Ngulube.
Simon Machiri was elected leader of the freedom fighters’ wing.
The convention was graced by the diplomatic community with officials from
Tanzanian, Swedish and Canadian embassies in attendance.