OPPOSITION MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai last Friday reportedly called off a provincial meeting in Bulawayo after rival factions booed and heckled each other in his presence.
by NQOBILE BHEBHE
Party sources said tempers flared after MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson, Gift Banda was booed by a group of youths aligned to former chairperson, Matson Hlalo.
“At the lodge (name supplied), there was chaos. Senior members, who are legislators, ferried youths to the venue and protested outside. While the protests where going on, he (Tsvangirai) met hell inside the meeting room,” a source said.
“Banda was booed when asked to address, as some members still feel he is not their legitimate chairman. Tsvangirai had to call off the meeting to contain the explosive situation.”
Banda’s leadership of the party is being challenged by Hlalo.
Hlalo once challenged Banda’s election and the High Court ruled in his favour, but the party insisted that the latter was the provincial chairperson.
MDC-T national spokesperson, Obert Gutu yesterday downplayed the incident.
“President Morgan Tsvangirai’s meetings in Bulawayo were a resounding success. The entire leadership of the party is fully behind our leader,” he said.
“Some Zanu PF agents might have attempted to disrupt some of the meetings, but this was a very inconsequential disturbance.
“The meetings that were addressed by our party leader were very well-attended and the deliberations were extremely fruitful. Bulawayo province remains an MDC-T stronghold and in a free and fair election, we will win all the Parliamentary seats, as well as all the wards.
“There are no rifts in the party leadership in Bulawayo province. Of course, here and there party cadres might have different opinions on various matters, but that should be expected in a big and democratic political party such as the MDC-T.”
Later, Tsvangirai held several meetings in the city, amid reports he wanted to mend rifts reportedly caused by the defection of some party members to former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First project.
“Officially, Tsvangirai’s visit is classified as being to meet with structures, but that’s far from the truth,” an insider told Southern Eye.
“He is panicking over reports the People First movement has made inroads in the city and other provinces,” the insider said.
“So he was here to show himself as being relevant. It’s strange for a man of his stature to hold rallies in Luveve, Njube, Stanely Square and Nkulamane, which were poorly attended. Did he fail to get bookings at White City Stadium?”