HARARE – Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said yesterday it was now clear that President Robert Mugabe was supporting rebels in a plot to dethrone him from the MDC presidency.
During his Independence Day celebrations speech, Mugabe appeared to show support for expelled MDC rebels led by Elton Mangoma.
Mugabe spoke in the wake of the opposition MDC’s move to expel Mangoma and his allies who have been calling for a party leadership renewal.
The MDC national council summarily expelled Mangoma, Last Maengahama, Jacob Mafume and Promise Mkwananzi.
Mangoma in February alleged he had been beaten up by Tsvangirai loyalists while emerging from a party meeting.
He lodged a police report, alleging Tsvangirai masterminded the beating, an accusation strenuously rejected by the MDC leader. The case is now before the courts.
Mugabe said the MDC should resolve their internal squabbles in peace or split in peace without violence, adding the rebels had a right to raise objections to Tsvangirai’s continued leadership.
Addressing mourners at the funeral of a Mbare-based MDC activist John Dungwa, 82, popularly known as “Mudhara Mutambu”, Tsvangirai said Mugabe’s remarks vindicated his party’s assertion that the chorus for him to step aside ostensibly to allow the MDC to re-energise itself in the wake of last year’s electoral defeat to Zanu PF, was suspiciously louder in Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party.
“I heard my colleague (President Mugabe) saying rebels in the MDC should be left to express their opinion. Wazobuda pachenaka kuti ndiwe waivatuma. Mwoyochena wei mombe kuyamwisa mhuru isiri yayo? (Now you have come out clear that you sent them (rebels) to cause disunity. How does a cow feed another’s calf?)” Tsvangirai queried.
Mugabe told the Independence Day crowd : “Kana muchisiyana, vanobuda vobuda parunyararo kana vachida kuita party yavo, voita parunyararo (If there is a break-up, it must be in peace and if they want to have their own party, let them do it peacefully).
“Haungarambidze vane pfungwa dzakati kuti, kuitawo chido chavo kana kutaura honzi wazvitaurirei. Ko freedom yakauya nerusununguko inenge yobva papi? (You cannot ban people from having a different opinion, where is the freedom that came with independence?)
“Hatidi hun’an’a pakati pedu. Avo vatiri kunzwa vari kuda kurovana pamusana pekuti havachanzwanana, aiwa, tiri kuda kuti vagadzirise nyaya dzavo pakunyarara vari mumaoffice. Zvekurovana hatidi (We don’t want quarrels among us. Those fighting because of internal differences, we say no, we want them to resolve their differences in peace. We don’t want violence),” he said.
“Hatidi violence, takaramba violence kare . Itai nyaya dzenyu parunyararo, gakava rinoitwa asi vanhu vanogarisana pasi. (We say no to violence, we rejected violence long back. Resolve this in peace, there might be differences but they must be civilised)”
Likening the trials and tribulations of his MDC project founded in 1999 to the Moses-led Biblical exodus of Israelites from Egyptian captivity to Canaan, Tsvangirai took a dig at Mangoma and his team saying the children who had been born en-route to the “promised land” had become troublesome.
Mangoma is believed to have joined the MDC after the 2005 split.
The veteran opposition politician said party cadres like Dungwa who had founded the party in 1999 were its shareholders as opposed to stakeholders such as Mangoma who had joined the MDC along the way.
“It is individuals like (the deceased) Dungwa, (Morgan) Femai, Muza and others here who are the party’s shareholders,” Tsvangirai said.
“We cannot do anything without them but others are mere stakeholders whom we can do without.”
Tsvangirai said instead of mourning, the MDC family needed to celebrate the life of the late Dungwa whom he described as a fearless, inspired and strong man in the face of great opposition.
“This old man was inspired,” Tsvangirai said.
“One would question where he got his inspiration and energy from. In terms of forming the party, Mr Mutambu is one of the founding fathers. This man was a shareholder.”
Speaking at the same occasion, MDC organising secretary Nelson Chamisa mocked Mangoma, saying he was least qualified to talk about the MDC’s founding values since he was not there when the party was formed.
Chamisa said only founding members such as Dungwa had the moral high ground to talk about the party’s values.
“How do you talk about the MDC’s founding values yet you were also founded by the party?” Chamisa said.
“The MDC is not about positions and Dungwa understood that and was determined.”
Internal party documents claim Mangoma was working in cahoots with Zanu PF to unseat Tsvangirai, a charge he has outrightly rejected.