Mugove Tafirenyika 1 July 2017
HARARE – The MDC has ordered its structures to only campaign for party
leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of next year’s elections, amid fears that
top officials were working feverishly to block him from leading a
coalition against President Robert Mugabe.
With the clock ticking towards the make-or-break harmonised polls, the MDC
was plunged into another hair-raising conspiracy linking some of its
senior officials – including one of Tsvangirai’s deputies – to a group of
the party’s MPs who are allegedly mobilising the electorate in their
constituencies to vote against the long-time Mugabe rival while voting for
aspiring councillors and lawmakers fronting the 18-year-old party.
Tsvangirai himself raised the concerns a fortnight ago warning during a
meeting with his party’s Harare provincial executive “enemies from within”
who were working with Zanu PF under a programme dubbed “Operation
MDC chairperson for Harare Province Eric Murai confirmed the development
saying his executive has since announced to the lower structures of the
party that all campaigns from now onwards must focus on Tsvangirai.
“We then made a resolution last week that all the door to door campaigns
we are undertaking in the province must be about the president so everyone
must be selling Tsvangirai’s name not aspiring MPs and councillors,” Murai
told the Daily News yesterday.
He added that the decision was reached at “after we realised that we need
to put our energy on winning the presidency more than anything else”.
While Mashonaland East Chairperson Piniel Denga said “Operation Sesekedza”
was not evident in the region, structures were under instruction to only
promote the Tsvangirai brand.
“What we want is to ensure our presidential candidate gets more mileage
because MPs and councillors don’t matter as they will have no influence if
we do not win the presidential race,” Denga said.
Tsvangirai, who has led the country’s largest opposition party since its
formation in 1999, is facing resistance from one other front – a plot
involving a lobby among women cutting across opposition political parties
seeking to build consensus around a woman who could lead the grand
Tsvangirai’s backers have been quick to point accusing fingers at
Thokozani Khupe, whom they suspect to have teamed up with National
People’s Party (NPP) leader, Joice Mujuru, to block the former trade
unionist’s bid to lead the mooted coalition.
A fortnight ago MDC officials tried to block a women gathering in Bulawayo
where Mujuru was officiating, fearing that the gathering could be used to
This also comes as Mujuru has stoked tensions within the opposition rank
and file by seemingly making statements that suggest Tsvangirai lacks the
profile of leading the much-talked about electoral alliance.
Mujuru has recently also punted herself to lead the envisaged grand
coalition, at the same time seemingly questioning the suitability of
Tsvangirai to front the mooted alliance as she promoted her candidacy
during a meeting with her supporters in Zvimba, Mashonaland West.
Tsvangirai’s backers were apparently angered by Khupe’s participation at
the Women Electoral Convergence (Wec) meeting in Bulawayo, a day before
the former prime minister held his rally in Gweru, amid concerns that the
gathering would act as a counter-attraction.
The party dispatched its deputy national spokesperson and Bulawayo East
legislator Tabitha Khumalo to mobilise against the meeting but it failed.
MDC insiders allege that there could be a deal between Mujuru and Khupe
reached during their trip to Dubai, allowing the NPP leader to use their
structures in the provinces she has been touring to mobilise women to
register and vote for next year’s elections.
Mujuru and Khupe have been to South Africa, the United States and United
Arab Emirates on business trips, which MDC rivals say confirm their
Wec is a non-party specific platform which is being driven by women
politicians drawn from different political parties to encourage the
feminine gender to register and vote for next year’s elections.
Apart from mobilising for voter registration, Wec is also advocating for
increase in the number of women who hold political office.
Wec coordinator and legislator, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, however
said the accusations emanating from MDC were not surprising as they fit
into the stereotype that women cannot lead.
“The reason why I laughed is because it is predictable from a gender
perspective; men are very uncomfortable when they see women doing things
they cannot take part in.
“We were very clear that is the likely response that men would come with,
we engaged the leaders and he (Tsvangirai) was there before we had our
meeting in Pretoria,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga told the Daily News in a
“Let me make it clear we are concerned about two things, mobilising women
to go and vote and making sure that women in various political formations
can have equal representation,” she added.