Tsvangirai Officials, Including MPs, Councillors Defect to Mujuru
The Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai is in state of panic after thousands of its senior officials and supporters defected to Joyce Mujuru’s recently formed Zimbabwe People First movement.
Tsvangirai has now embarked on a programme of rallies and ordered senior party officials into action to counter the threat from Mujuru. Tsvangirai himself has embarked on an intense programme of rallies after officials told him he needed to be become more ‘visible’.
Tsvangirai held a rally at Mkoba stadium that was poorly attended as many traditional supporters stayed away, with only paid activists and what one official called the ‘riff raff’ attending. MDC-T councillors and mayors from the Midlands were conspicuous by their absence.
Joyce Mujuru launched her ZPF party on March 1 2016, breaking a secret coalition pact she had made with MDC-T leaders. The move is considered disastrous for Tsvangirai, who relied on Mujuru supporters to garner enough numbers to beat Mugabe in 2008. This was after Mujuru launched the ‘bhora musango’ campaign to destabilize Mugabe after he scuppered her plans to propel Simba Makoni into the Zanu PF presidency at the 2007 congress, which would have made the former finance minister the official Zanu PF candidate. Mujuru and her late husband then helped Makoni to launch the Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD) party made up of disgruntled Zanu PF supporters. Makoni conjured up an electoral pact with Tsvangirai and gave him voters in the presidential election.
Political commentators said the emergence of the Mujuru party and the potential for another party made up of under-attack vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s backers made Tsvangirai’s position precarious. Western powers, whose influence usually determines who holds power in Africa, have started pouring money into Mujuru’s outfit while giving ‘peanuts’ to Tsvangirai, it emerged.
Political commentator Chris Mitchell said unless he made some very deft moves to regain the trust of his sponsors and supporters, who have lost confidence in him.
“Tsvangirai has never been a darling of the West and has lost considerable ground with local diplomats, who still meet him for lunch to get information but aren’t providing much help to him,” Mitchell said. “He prevaricates and only acts when he is personally under attack. He has no democratic agenda. It’s not just about having elected leaders. It’s about having leaders with the courage and willpower to make the sweeping changes needed to improve the lot of Zimbabweans.”
Mitchell said comparisons were going to be made between Tsvangirai and Mujuru, how they fared when they were in government under Mugabe.
“Zimbabwe yearns for leadership,” Mitchell said. “Mujuru says she fought with Mugabe while in government. Some within the MDC-T are now saying Tsvangirai should have been more aggressive when he was prime minister. He should have opened violence and corruption cases against Mugabe. That would have been on his resume and help him fend off Mujuru at this time.”
Another commentator said the change promised by Tsvangirai in 1999 has been slow to come.
“Unfortunately, in politics people don’t care who delivers change. All they want is for the situation to improve. It has always been said that if a more militant leader emerged in Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai and MDC-T would be history. Many people are no longer sure Mugabe can be removed through peaceful means. That is where militants like Joyce Mujuru come in, promising change ‘by any means necessary’,” the analyst said.
Zanu PF politburo member Patrick Chinamasa said MDC-T officials should start ‘writing their party’s obituary’, having lost to Mujuru.
“What we saw (the formation of ZPF) is the grafting of disgruntled former ZANU PF leadership being grafted to MDC T followers,” Chinamasa said. “So, the obituary should be on their (MDC-T) side. Their followers are now going to the party which was formed yesterday.”
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