HARARE – President Robert Mugabe yesterday took an unusual step of showing support to expelled MDC rebels led by Elton Mangoma on the grounds that they had freedom of speech.
The remarks raised eyebrows, given that Mugabe, in power for over three decades, is 90 but has not yet designated a successor in his own party.
Mugabe spoke in the wake of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)’s move to expel a senior official and his allies who had failed to follow constitutional procedures to have party leader Morgan Tsvangirai quit.
The MDC national council summarily expelled Mangoma, Last Maengahama, Jacob Mafume and Promise Mkwananzi.
Mangoma in February alleged he had been beaten up by Tsvangirai loyalists while emerging from a party meeting. He lodged a police report, alleging Tsvangirai masterminded the beating, an accusation strenuously rejected by the MDC leader. The case is now before the courts.
Mugabe said the MDC should resolve their internal squabbles in peace or split in peace without violence, adding the rebels had a right to raise objections to Tsvangirai’s continued leadership.
“Kana muchisayana, vanobuda vobuda parunyararo kana vachida kuita party yavo, voita parunyararo (If there is a break-up, it must be in peace and if they want to have their own party, so be it, in peace),” Mugabe said, in a speech during celebrations marking 34 years of independence from colonial rule.
“Haungarambidze vane pfungwa dzakati kuti, kuitawo chido chavo kana kutaura honzi wazvitaurirei. Ko freedom yakauya nerusununguko inenge yobva papi? (You cannot ban people from having a different opinion, where is the freedom that came with independence?)”
“Hatidi hun’an’a pakati pedu. Avo vatiri kunzwa vari kuda kurovana pamusana pekuti havachanzwanana, aiwa, tirikuda kuti vagadzirise nyaya dzavo pakunyarara vari mumaoffice. Zvekurovana hatidi (We don’t want quarrels among us. Those fighting because of internal differences, we say no, we want them to resolve their differences in peace.
We don’t want violence),” he said.
“Hatidi violence, takaramba violence kare . Itai nyaya dzenyu parunyararo, gakava rinoitwa asi vanhu vanogarisana pasi. (We say no to violence, we rejected violence long back. Resolve this in peace, there might be differences but they must be civilised)”
Mangoma and his renewal team have challenged their expulsion from the party, saying it is a legal nullity.
In his Independence Day message, Tsvangirai made a thinly-veiled attack on the expelled rebels, comparing Mangoma to Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 original apostles of Jesus Christ infamous for his kiss and betrayal of Jesus to the hands of the chief Sanhedrin priests in exchange for a payment of 30 silver coins.
“On the day they nailed the Son of Man to the Cross, we learn a great lesson from Jesus’ betrayal by those who walked and lived with him.”
“It remains a great lesson to us as mere mortals, that the betrayal by those close to us should not sway us from our mission. We learn that the 30 pieces of silver in the pockets of those around us should never sway us from the sanctity of our mission because we know that our cause is just.
“We ask our loving God to cast away the spirit of Judas Iscariot, the spirit of betrayal that continues to afflict and roam the earth to this very day. We know our Lord God will expel and exorcise this bad spirit from some among us; the spirit to sell out for the love of a mere 30 pieces of silver. Just as the 30 pieces of silver were not worth Christ’s mission, so too is our cause and struggle too great to warrant a prize,” Tsvangirai said.
On the campaign trail, party organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and key Tsvangirai loyalist has ridiculed Mangoma’s insistence that he will not be forced out of the labour-backed party.
Chamisa said Mangoma was not there when the party was formed in 1999 as he only surfaced at the 2006 congress following the party’s infamous split in 2005.
Internal party documents claim Mangoma was working in cahoots with Zanu PF to unseat Tsvangirai, a charge he has out rightly rejected. Daily News