ZIMBABWE – Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai was here last weekend for a no-holds-barred meeting with his provincial executive following alleged defections of two district chairpersons to the yet-to-be launched People First (PF) party.
The former Prime Minister is said to have read the riot act to his lieutenants to ring-fence the MDC-T against further harm from maneuvers by PF.
Tsvangirai’s meeting came after MDC-T Chiredzi North district chair Josphat Chapfidza and Sengurudzai Mangezi of Bikita East were suspended for allegedly going to bed with PF.
Ousted former vice president Joice Mujuru, who fronts the PF project, has held several secret meetings here and has since set up her provincial executive.
Apart from the two MDC-T district chairpersons who have defected to PF, former ZANU-PF Chivi South Member of Parliament, Irvine Dzingirai, also joined Mujuru’s party a fortnight ago, according to reports.
The entire People’s Democratic Party Masvingo provincial executive is also said to have also defected to PF, dealing a blow to its leader, former finance minister Tendai Biti, who broke ranks with Tsvangirai last year.
Jolted by the recent developments, Tsvangirai descended on Masvingo last Saturday to call his officials to order.
“He was furious with Masvingo and reprimanded the province for failing to contain the alleged defections, saying it was an embarrassment on his part,” said an MDC-T source.
“He blasted factionalism and clearly spelt out what to do in the face of competition so that the party would have strong bargaining power in the event that they merge with Mujuru.”
MDC-T Masvingo provincial chair, James Gumbi, this week said Tsvangirai would be touring six districts in Masvingo.
“For now, the president (Tsvangirai) is not going to have a star rally in Masvingo; he said for now he is going to visit six districts here. He will go to Masvingo rural, Gutu, Chivi, Chiredzi and Bikita and we are negotiating so that he visits Zaka as well,” said Gumbi.
“We will arrange for a star rally, thereafter if there is a need for it” he added.
MDC-T provincial spokesperson Dusty Zivave brushed off suggestions that the party was now scrambling to plug further PF penetration by calling for emergency meetings.
“There is no panicking here. This was a private, routine meeting. The president was just meeting structures here and mapping the way forward and outlining programmes aimed at strengthening our party, starting from ward level.
“The coming of the president is just like any other ordinary visit, it was a provincial council meeting provided for in the constitution done every three months,” said Zivave.