MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday pleaded with former party officials who broke away from the original MDC to join forces and hinted that his party may hold an early elective congress to choose new leadership ahead of the 2018 general elections.
Addressing about 1 000 party supporters in Budiriro high-density suburb in Harare, Tsvangirai also blasted some diplomats and donors for fuelling divisions in the former labour-backed party.
The MDC-T was initially scheduled to hold its elective congress in 2016, but there have been increasing calls from within its ranks to move it forward.
“Unity is important in the MDC and I will not throw anyone out of the tent,” Tsvangirai said, in an apparent attempt to dispel fears that he was planning to kick out MDC-T deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and other senior party leaders who have openly challenged him to relinquish his post and allow for fresh elections.
“If I had my way, we need more people in our tent. (MDC 99 president Job) Sikhala must come back, (MDC president Welshman) Ncube must come back and (National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore) Madhuku must forget about forming his small party and let’s have a bigger tent. Come so that we fight Zanu PF as one united party,” Tsvangirai pleaded.
Ncube and Sikhala broke ranks with Tsvangirai after the 2005 MDC split and went on to form their own parties. Madhuku disengaged the NCA from backing the MDC-T during the Copac constitution-making process.
“God doesn’t destroy; God builds. If you do something wrong to your father and you are outside in the dark, he will call you inside the house. Don’t remain outside, come back to the others because you are a family member. If you stay outside you will die of hunger and be a destitute,” Tsvangirai said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Sikhala said he was open for negotiation if the MDC-T leader followed the proper channels.
“Tsvangirai knows my phone number. If he is serious, he should not grandstand at rallies; call me so that we can try to find common ground,” Sikhala said.
Madhuku said he would not comment on issues he had not been appraised of by Tsvangirai himself.
“I am coming from Masvingo right now. I am hearing it for the first time from you. I cannot comment on issues coming from journalists,” he said.
However, both Ncube and MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga were not reachable for comment.
Tsvangirai added: “Money is dangerous. It’s time for Zimbabweans to underwrite their own struggle and not rely on donors. If you are proud people, underwrite your own struggle. Contribute 50 cents or a $1 like you do in church.”
Turning to alleged interference by diplomats, the MDC-T leader said: “We have our friends out there. We are surprised by people who say we want that one to lead the party. Is that the work of diplomats? Why can’t you just write and send to your countries. We want to tell the diplomats that we are united as a party. What you can do is to help the people of Zimbabwe to have democratic change.
“Another perception is that I want to die in office; have mercy on me. If I want to die in office at my age, what about (President Robert) Mugabe? We follow the constitution. If I serve, I know when I will give to someone. What I don’t want is that before I give you power, you want to wrest it from me,” he said describing such moves as dangerous.
“In the army, such action is considered a coup; in the corporate world it’s hostile takeover and in politics, the people must give you the positions. I don’t want to die in power; I want to rest at one point with my wife and go for holiday.
“We might move the congress to an earlier date to finish this, but it’s not an extraordinary congress. You first finish on the grassroots and then the national leadership later,” he said. Tsvangirai has been at the helm of the MDC-T since its formation in 1999.
In apparent reference to party members who have allegedly sponsored the grassroot structures to revolt against him, Tsvangirai said: “If they give you money, take their money. You go to school, but you learn nothing. All those 15 years of struggle, you have learnt nothing.”