HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai reiterated yesterday that he stood ready to work with former Vice President Joice Mujuru to ensure that President Robert Mugabe and his brawling post-congress Zanu PF were comprehensively defeated in the crunch 2018 national elections.
Speaking at a rally in Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central, the former prime minister also moved to dispel what he called “unfounded speculation” that the MDC was in talks with Zanu PF, saying emphatically that this was “typical fiction” by a desperate ruling party that was reeling from its seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars.
He told his supporters that the time had come for long-suffering Zimbabweans to join hands in a bid to “salvage the country from its current mess” that had been created by the ruling party’s ineptitude and misrule.
“As the MDC, we formed our party after we saw Zanu PF’s misrule. Even former senior Zanu PF officials have also now come to see this misrule for what it is, so we are open to working with them,” Tsvangirai said to thunderous applause from the gathered crowd.
Mujuru was brutally purged from the post-congress Zanu PF late last year, along with many other liberation struggle stalwarts such as former Cabinet ministers Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa — after being accused of plotting to oust and kill Mugabe, among many other untested allegations.
The disaffected former Zanu PF heavyweights have since moved to congregate around the “original” Zanu PF, using the slogan People First, and are working flat out to oust Mugabe and the ruling party from power.
Rattled by the prospects of Tsvangirai agreeing to an electoral pact with Mujuru for the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections, senior ruling party officials and their minions have been rubbishing this mooted deal to no end, and working around the clock in a desperate bid to ensure that it suffers a stillbirth.
Tsvangirai told his supporters in the Zanu PF stronghold yesterday that he was unfazed by the “continuing crass attacks” on him, adding that he was working harder to end Mugabe’s rule.
Ahead of and during the rally, Zanu PF apparatchicks harassed MDC supporters and shut down market stalls and shops at Muzarabani in a bid to dissuade people from attending the gathering. Those who braved the brazen intimidation said they had had their names entered into “a black book for future attention (harassment)”.
MDC Muzarabani North treasurer, Philip Jani, confirmed to the Daily News that ahead of Tsvangirai’s visit, local Zanu PF officials had threatened and “roughed up” his party’s supporters.
“People were threatened from coming to the rally and harassed, to the extent that many were afraid of what could be done to them if they attended the rally,” he said.
Another MDC supporter who was waiting for transport while dressed in party regalia said he had been chased around and threatened with death.
“I was waiting for transport at Utete shops and I was told by ... (name supplied but withheld on legal advice), who is the Zanu PF Utete branch chairperson that come 2018 they would kill my whole family,” said the fearful woman.
Police were called in to keep peace and protect the visibly-shaken local MDC officials and their supporters.
In a statement earlier this week, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said his boss’ four-day visit to Mashonaland Central, which is Mujuru’s home province, was taking place at a time “Zimbabweans of all political formations are converging on the need for a united front to confront the political challenges facing the people of Zimbabwe”.