Tsvangirai hits out at 'traitors'

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai appeared to slam the door shut yesterday on the prospects of him working with his former comrades who deserted him and the MDC over the years, saying he did not see the sense of crafting a coalition with people who had previously made it clear that they did not want to work with him.

Addressing a media conference in Harare, the fit-again former prime minister in the government of national unity also said he had not seen the need for him to attend a meeting of opposition parties that took place in South Africa last week, which not only involved people who had left his party, but was also unclear in terms of its objectives.

Political observers who spoke to the Daily News last night said among the prominent figures that Tsvangirai may have had in his sights was former MDC secretary-general and now People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti, who left the main opposition two years ago amid bitter recriminations, but has since himself suffered major desertions from his new political outfit.

The meeting of small local opposition leaders in Pretoria, which Tsvangirai and the interim leader of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), Joice Mujuru, snubbed last week was organised by the relatively unknown South Africa-based think-tank, In Transformative Initiative (ITI), which apparently sought to facilitate talks to pave way for the selection of a single candidate to face President Robert Mugabe in the watershed 2018 elections.

“You don’t leave a party and go to the side and say let’s have a coalition. Why did you leave in the first place?” Tsvangirai asked rhetorically.

“I hope that everyone will understand that working together is a process of building trust among participants  . . . I did not go (to the SA meeting) because there was no reason for me to attend. How do you introduce a subject which you have not planned with me?

“That does not mean that I am underplaying the need for a coalition, but I don’t even know who was co-ordinating the talks and what mandate he has? Besides, have we failed as Zimbabweans to sit down and talk amongst ourselves? Do we need outsiders to organise us? That is why I did not see it necessary to go to that meeting,” Tsvangirai added.

Earlier, the absence of both Tsvangirai and Mujuru at the Pretoria meeting had appeared not to go down well with Biti, who went on to cast doubts on the formation of the mooted grand coalition in the country.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult in Zimbabwe to have coalitions, there are a lot of egocentric and selfish actors in our discourse, but I think we have to do better,” Biti said on social media.

“We have to go beyond these individuals and establish a matrix of working together because that’s what our people want. It’s not about me or what the next leader of a political party wants. So we have to put our people first, so we can reconstruct this country after the mess and collapse caused by Robert Mugabe,” he added.

Analysts have consistently said that a united opposition fighting with one purpose would bring to an end Mugabe’s long rule, especially at this time when the country’s economy is dying and the increasingly frail nonagenarian is battling to keep his warring Zanu PF united.

Since Mujuru joined hands with Tsvangirai and marched with him in the streets of Gweru in August this year — in a rare public display of unity among the opposition — there have been growing calls by fed-up citizens for the formation of a grand opposition alliance.

Describing that development then as ‘heart warming’ Tsvangirai, showered praises on Mujuru at the time for joining the MDC in its protest and public rally.

“Did anyone ever dream of Mujuru becoming a part of the opposition? I want to congratulate her, together with the ZPF leadership, for seeing it necessary for us to have this joint programme. It’s not by accident that the MDC and ZPF are here together.

“I know that there will be a lot of talk, especially from Mugabe because he is afraid of the people, and by the end of the day he will even be afraid of leading Zimbabwe. We in the MDC respect Mujuru for the contribution she has made to this country. Mujuru is not the enemy,” he said.

And speaking to the Daily News in October after defeating Zanu PF in the Norton by-election, independent legislator Temba Mliswa said among the lessons that long-suffering Zimbabweans and the country’s brutalised opposition could learn from his stunning victory then, was that they could once again defeat Mugabe and Zanu PF, just as Tsvangirai and the MDC had done in 2008.

Despite his dim view of his former comrades, Tsvangirai was quick to add yesterday that plans for a grand coalition were alive, although this would be a process rather than an event.

Turning to the newly-introduced bond notes, the MDC president who also took yesterday press event to welcoming back officials who had left his party to join PDP, described the move to introduce the surrogate currency as “ill-advised”.

“It is the last nail into the coffin of a struggling economy. I said at one point that when we introduced the US dollar we should have prepared to use the opportunity to create our own currency three, four years down the line.

“But given the current crisis of cash shortages, I advocated for the adoption of the rand not because of anything but because 95 percent of our economic activities are done through the rand. We can all be proud of having our own currency but it will be worth nothing in the end.

“I think the time has now come to bring to the attention of the Zanu PF government that all these policies are short-lived and that it is very suicidal using these bond notes that I call bond papers,” Tsvangirai said.

On Wednesday, authorities crushed a planned protest march against the bond notes in Harare after deploying thousands of heavily-armed riot police in and around Harare, triggering shameful chaos in the capital’s central business district (CBD) and causing traffic mayhem during the early morning rush hour.

The ensuing ugly scenes saw ordinary Zimbabweans who were queuing for their money at banks, and who had absolutely nothing to do with the planned demonstration, being caught up in the pandemonium as the uncompromising police fired teargas indiscriminately and randomly charged at any and all gatherings.

Tsvangirai said it was wrong for the government to use thuggish methods on people who were mounting peaceful demonstrations, warning Zimbabweans further that what happened on Wednesday was likely to be repeated going forward.

“But the people are not stupid, and they will always express themselves. In fact, the more you put pressure on the spring, the more it rebounds. The government has to choose between repression and engagement because repression will not stop people from expressing themselves.

“The moment people start to express themselves on how you are running the country, you can’t stop them. We in the MDC believe that national mobilisation is important in expressing ourselves over the way the economy is being mismanaged and therefore we will continue to do that in spite of the brute force that government is resorting to,” he said.

The MDC leader also quashed suggestions by his detractors that he was no longer in charge of the MDC because of his illness of the past few months.

Comments (15)

Morgan (and other Zimbabwean politicians) - just because someone has a different view point, does not mean they are a traitor (or enemy). We are all Zimbabweans.

david taylor - 2 December 2016

Morgan (and other Zimbabwean politicians) - just because someone has a different view point, does not mean they are a traitor (or enemy). We are all Zimbabweans.

david taylor - 2 December 2016

Mugabe 2.0: Your party has split 5 times, how many blunders must we keep tolerating from you, Temba Mliswa being the latest, give someone else a chance, 17 years and still nothing to show for it, peoples lives are invloved in your ego games,

Ethan - 2 December 2016

Morgan Tswangirai is surely a bafoon. I dont know who is advising him but one is bound to think that the man is on Zanu PF payroll to pretend to be fighting the party so as to fool everyone. Tswangirai can never win the election against Zanu PF. Its high time that sunk into his empty head!!!! Only a united effort by opposition parties can defeat Zanu PF. Nothing less. And that united front cannot be lead by a dandahead like Tswangirai. Zimbabweans deserve better. Sorry Morgan. The truth hurts for sure!!!!

MR COOPER - 2 December 2016

How is Mr Cooper's comment allowed to be posted considering the request to refrain from abusive vulgar , derogatory language etc? Who does he think will lead the united party?? Unless Mr Cooper has something useful to say I suggest he refrains from posting comments, because clearly he is referring to himself!

BK - 2 December 2016

@ Ethan , just talking about MDC splitting 5 times without scrutinizing the facts is as easy as you wish , my man the masses are still at MDC T and that will take this country forward indeed without traitors like Biti and Ncube or who so ever . Traitors are traitors and MDC T will never work together with traitors and failures like Biti , he doesn't have masses , Ncube doesn't have masses but only an opportunists, good enough that people are deserting Biti and coming back to MDC T . Yes , we need the coalition but with who? Let me tell you , MDC T and ZPF for Mujuru are the more needed people on this coalition and they can do without usesless and failures . Ncube must go to hell , Biti must go to his own hell .

Khalabemgeza - 2 December 2016

Chopper uyanuka phuuuuuphuuuuuuphuuuuuuuuu, go and take a bath.

Khalabemgeza - 2 December 2016

Which is which? On one hand you are embracing traitors who are rejoining your party and on the other you are castigating them.

confused - 2 December 2016

All this me me nonsense is just like children in a playground leaders need to be mature and listen to others It should be about WE

United we Stand - 2 December 2016

MDC-T is the official opposition in terms of numbers. What Tendai Biti (PDP) and any other smaller parties are doing is pure uncontrollable desire to be in power and its pathetic ,desperate to say the least. There is no way a small group can dictate pace and direction of a larger group. Morgan is simply flexing his muscle which he should have done long time ago. Reality has struck, they exercised their democratic right and left the bigger group and their political miscalculation on country's electorate have come to bite them. Each political party for itself and must meet in parliament for deliberations. A Unified zanu pf was defeated at 2008 polls. Smaller parties are bringing nothing to the coalition. Its like they are coming to get 49% / 51% stake in the larger group and build a bloated recipe for gravy train with no accountability. A single party must win and the electorate evaluate it just like zanu pf. Morgan must tell these small parties to go f*** and p***off.

X-MAN IV - 2 December 2016

Too many egos. A united stand could have crushed this dictatorship a long time ago. Our great Zimbabwe is bigger than one political party and certainly than one person.

Young Zimbo - 2 December 2016

It must be remembered that politics is a numbers game. Now, if we take the likes of PDP, Mavambo, Zapu, ZFP, Zunde who attended the Cape Town meeting you will find that their combined total supporters is less than 40,000 in the whole country. We are looking here at more than 2 million potential voters. Now the two opposition parties whose supporters number more than a million combined together are MDC-T and ZPF. So, if there was ever to be a coalition it should be between MDC-T and ZPF because they have the supporters to boot. Biti and his partners add no real value in terms of adding supporter numbers and they can be safely be ignored. All they will bring is squabbling which will make things even worse. There is no point for me forming my own party called Zim Voice of the Voiceless(ZVV) with just a hundred supporters and then say I would like to join the coalition and I also want a top position. This is exactly what the coalition is trying to do. Lets give careful thought to the numbers folks.

Inyika - 2 December 2016

Well said Tsvangirai you cannot just attend every meeting that Tom nad Dick has organised ... someone who does have a party bt he is saying lets form a coalition .. Really??? what will you bring to the coalition when you don't have the numbers ..... Ungaenda kwa Save ne cup yemvura woti i have added something to this river ... Be serious Mr Biti

Murozvi weMbire - 3 December 2016

The top 3 comments are from Zanu Pf supporters. Please ignore those idiots...

Mdc - 3 December 2016

Traitors are best known and discribed by those they betrayed.Save tell us .Yu were betrayed by the traitors.

viola gwena - 3 December 2016

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