MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s push to woo back the party’s founding members as he battles a bid to oust him intensified yesterday as he unveiled two former MPs from the Welshman Ncube-led formation in Bulawayo.
Former Mangwe MP Edward Mkhosi and ex-Insiza South legislator Siyabonga Malandu Ncube were paraded to a sizeable crowd that attended an MDC T rally at Stanley Square in Makokoba.
Mkhosi and Ncube’s defection followed the unveiling of former St Marys MP Job Sikhala and ex-MDC chairman Joubert Mudzumwe by Tsvangirai in Harare last week.
Sikhala, who received a standing ovation at yesterday’s rally, pledged his loyalty to Tsvangirai.
He said he agreed with the MDC-T leader that a united opposition was the only way to dislodge President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai said Mkhosi and Ncube’s defection was an indication that MDC-T remained the only viable party to topple Mugabe. He repeated calls to MDC, Zapu and civic society organisations to forge an alliance to fight the ruling party in the 2018 elections.
Tsvangirai said those calling on him to step down before the MDC-T congress in 2018 would not be expelled from the party.
“We do not want to kick anyone out of the MDC-T tent. We need everyone to be part of this movement as we move forward,” he said.
“Those colleagues of ours must come back. They must not be beaten, and they must not be condemned. I don’t want anyone who promotes violence in this party.”
He chided party officials and supporters for using hate language against suspended deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and others believed to be pushing for his ouster.
“Let us be united and build this party . . . those in the civic society we have travelled this road together,” Tsvangirai said.
“The spirit of 1999 is the spirit that will drive this party forward. That spirit is the spirit of unity, and a spirit of purpose. We need to go back there to re-energise the people and to reinvigorate the party.”
The MDC-T leader said Mugabe and Zanu PF had failed to inspire confidence in the economy, eight months after the controversial July 31 polls.
Addressing the same rally, MDC-T organising-secretary Nelson Chamisa said the party was on a crusade to reunite the labour movement. He labelled MDC-T leaders calling for leadership renewal Zanu PF agents.
“You cannot change a referee at half time, you can only change players,” he said.
Chamisa said Zanu PF had blundered by “paying some of the party’s renegades to try and plant seeds of divisions by their calls for leadership renewal”.
“But I want to warn Zanu, you cannot cut a baobab tree using a razor. Zanu PF is going to regret rigging the 2013 polls,” he said.
The crowd kept chanting that those that did not want the leadership of Tsvangirai could leave. They also sang songs denigrating Mangoma.
Morgan Ncube, the MDC-T Matabeleland South youth chairperson had earlier told the rally that his boss Promise Mkhwananzi was no longer a member of the party. Mkhwananzi has been linked to the group pushing for Tsvangirai’s ouster and has joined secretary-general Tendai Biti in condemning the way MDC-T is treating Mangoma.
The party officials who included Chamisa and deputy secretary-general Morgan Komichi took turns to grovel at Tsvangirai during the rally.