Tsvangirai steals Mujuru's thunder

HARARE - MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai electrified the crowd at the National People’s Party (NPP)’s inaugural convention held in the capital yesterday, where he belaboured his commitment towards working with former vice president Joice Mujuru in order to unseat President Robert Mugabe.

The 65-year-old politician, who had been invited to the convention to give a solidarity message, received a standing ovation when he promised NPP supporters that a coalition with Mujuru would be formed no matter what if the country’s deeply-divided opposition parties are to end Mugabe’s 37-year rule.

Tsvangirai, who is now shaving his head bald after losing his hair to colon cancer, kept his audience captivated by harping on his favourite talking-points that he has used around the country in recent days.

He emphasised that there were no differences, politically, or in terms of policy between Mujuru’s party, and the MDC.

“Democracy is a very difficult proposition in Africa but this path you have taken to seek the mandate and legitimacy from the people is the right one. On this day, you have overcome the doubts of many,” he said.

“I was listening to the proposals you make and I see that there is no conflict with our ideals and values, so where is the problem? We can’t be divided on the basis of personalities,” Tsvangirai said to uproarious applause.

He added amid the cheer: “If we are agreed on the direction that we need to take, why don’t we put our differences aside and be united? We launched the MDC alliance last week and we said we believe in the big tent and that 2018 is the only opportunity that we have as the opposition movement to defeat Mugabe.”

Tsvangirai addressing the crowd. Pics: Annie Mpalume

He spoke amid indications that Mujuru, who was fired from Zanu PF and government in 2014 on allegations of plotting a bloodless palace coup against Mugabe, could lead another coalition comprising opposition parties that are offshoots of the ruling Zanu PF party, ahead of polls in 2018.

Mujuru’s party was among opposition movements that were left out of the pact signed between Tsvangirai and seven other fringe political parties that included the People’s Democratic Party led by Tendai Biti and the smaller MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube.

Both Ncube and Biti are former secretaries-general of a united MDC under the leadership of Tsvangirai.

Mujuru, who had a tiff with Tsvangirai over the leadership of the coalition, was conspicuous by her absence at the MDC Alliance weekend rally, which nominated the former trade unionist to lead the group.

At the NPP’s convention yesterday, it was quite clear that Mujuru’s supporters have no qualms with their leaders forging an alliance.

Delivering his solidarity speech after Mujuru before a diverse crowd that packed the Harare Sports Centre, Tsvangirai did not further stoke his ongoing feud with Mujuru over the leadership of the alliance.

Part of the crowd at the NPP convention.

The crowd, drawn from the country’s 10 provinces, painted the venue blue, as supporters danced to the party jingles, while controversial musician Hosea Chipanga was at hand to entertain the gathering.

The veteran opposition leader, who delivered a stump speech sharpened for his audience, said: “NPP is not our enemy and let me say atungamira haatori nzira, (Being the first to take a certain route won’t block others from following the same path).”

There have been growing calls for Mujuru and Tsvangirai to join hands and form a formidable opposition that could give Zanu PF a run for its money come next year.

However, the issue of positions, particularly the thorny question of who should lead the proposed grand alliance, is threatening to scuttle the deal.

Analysts opine that parties coalescing around either Tsvangirai or Mujuru stand the best chance to defeat Mugabe.

Mujuru, who was first to speak, promised her supporters that if elected president, she would, among other things, overhaul the controversial Indigenisation Act as well as bring sanity to the land reform programme.

She also promised to end endemic corruption as well as pursue a policy of national healing to bring closure to outstanding cases of human rights abuses.

By comparison to Tsvangirai, Mujuru’s speech was tame.

Mujuru said: “That there is need for a grand coalition is no longer a question, we need to give citizens what they want. You want an opposition that is united. You want to air your views on what leader you want.”

She suggested that the parties should either hold primary elections to vote on an agreeable representative or agree by way of consensus.

Mujuru addressing the crowd.

“We have overstretched your patience, but remember we are from different parties and you need to give us more time so that we can reach out to each other . . . I can assure you that this time we will cross to the Promised Land.

“Let us register to vote and inspect the voters’ roll. We are going to agree because we don’t want to be remembered as the cadres on the way to freedom,” said Mujuru.

Also present at the NPP convention was Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa who also received a resounding welcome from a section of the crowds who were chanting his name.

Meanwhile, Mujuru was confirmed as the NPP president while John Shumba Mvundura and Samuel Sipepa Nkomo will be her two deputies.

Former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire was confirmed the national chairperson with Gift Nyandoro being confirmed as the party secretary-general.

War veterans Bernard Manyadza, aka Parker Chipoyera, is the NPP organising secretary while Marian Chombo was confirmed as the leader of the women’s wing.

Chombo will be deputised by Gladys Hadebe while Angel Masiye was elected secretary-general, Nomalanga Khumalo (organising secretary) and Laizer Shindi as treasurer.

Lloyd Masiya was elected national youth chairperson and he will be deputised by Trevor Ngulube.

Simon Machiri was elected leader of the freedom fighters’ wing.

The convention was graced by the diplomatic community with officials from Tanzanian, Swedish and Canadian embassies in attendance.

Comments (13)

Why are the people pictured looking so down and unhappy. They really look like a hired crowd I'm sure the event was so not exciting at all. I know Tsvang is an honest and very good person fighting for a good cause but I think he should just leave this woman alone, the MDC Alliance, if concentrated on is enough to deliver, please just leave mai mujuru alone havana nyaya and she's just not there intellectually. Please Tsvang stop interacting with someone who sees you as a rival.

misty - 10 August 2017

Crowd looks unhappy....(nzara) hunger........

Abishai - 10 August 2017

The crowd was drawn from the whole 10 provinces of Zimbabwe but the stadium was not full. That npp might give us 0. 02 % sure hahaha. Madame Khupe please we are not fighting for positions please please. The nation is still in Egypt, we need to cross over to the promised land that's where your position is going to be found. Keep on fighting don't lose the battle.

Facts - 10 August 2017


pindirai - 10 August 2017

Here is my view-Opinion: Mujuru is an important factor in next year's election. I think if she fields alone as NPP, she is likely to divide zanuPF votes and not the opposition's vote. By Opposition i mean anybody who is not voting for Zanu. Tsvangirai will be the real deal. Then any other candidate willing to contest the election will have a possibility of dividing the crucial votes needed to oust Mugabe. So i suggest that zimbabweans should demostrate against such new comers such as Nkosana Moyo since they have a great chance of dividing the opposition votes. I am not saying Nkosana is not the right man to lead the country but definately he will not win the election on his own but will just divide the crucial vote and we end up extending Mugabes Rule. Please REaders comment on this one.

whiteHorse - 10 August 2017

WH, you are correct and I believe Nkosana Moyo will do a better job to turn the country around. The problem with ple like TSavangirai is they come with a loaded cart, full of loyalists seeking for positions in the new gvt. Their support for MT will guarantee them positions as opposed to their capabilities. NM comes with no such burden. But it's a tough question to answer bcz MT will definitely not make way for NK, even though he should. On the other hand, NM has no vehicle to carry him, MT has the numbers. We shall see.

zuze - 10 August 2017

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MAMAREEVA+27836708212 - 11 August 2017

WH you are very correct. NM has no Zim at heart. Why is he coming in this time. He is the mafia party project. It is obvious that he can't beat rg at any cost.

Facts - 11 August 2017

People like Nkosana Moyo , are bad right now if they want to challenge Mugabe alone, they are prematures, given few months left, they have to rally behind Tsvangirai, I personally dont like MT but at this point in life we have to find a reason to rally behind him, its too late for other candidates to compete with RGM, in the next few months, For now everyone who need change should rally behind MT

BRIGHT MASO - 11 August 2017

Well said Whitehorse!

Mhepoyenzara - 12 August 2017

Each time we vote someone for any other reason which is not sound leadership and capacity, we are responsible for supporting for wrong reasons and it doesnt help our situation with jobs, the economy, political stability, corruption etc. Whitehorse confirms what I have said before: Zimbos are responsible for the bad leadership we have because we support pple for wrong reasons and then expect them to do wonders in office. MT is not going to be any different in terms of dictatorships and overlooking povho.

Sala - 12 August 2017

Whitehorse you are are just asking us to postpone a problem if you admit that MT is not better than NM in terms of leadership. Use of a coalition in this type of thinking is not different from rigging, and seems like an admission that ZANU PF has huge support which no party alone seems able to beat.

Sala - 12 August 2017

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Zariyah - 21 September 2017

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