Addressing some 2 000 supporters at a campaign rally in Glen View, Harare, Mashakada said they were lobbying the party’s Electoral College to retain Tsvangirai “until he has landed at State House”.Mashakada’s remarks confirmed claims by the breakaway faction led by “fired” secretary-general Tendai Biti and ex-deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma that Tsvangirai was not yet ready for leadership renewal.
Yesterday, Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe, chairman Lovemore Moyo, party national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora among others, did not attend the rally, but were expected to address an MDC-T rally on Sunday.
“We will not remove him [Tsvangirai] as the party president if he has not been given a chance to go to State House,” Mashakada said.
“He has gone through a lot for the party. He was tortured, beaten and a lot of bad things were done to him. We should give him a chance to govern this country for a maximum of two terms as required by the Constitution.
That is the agreement we have in the MDC-T. We are going to Congress to come up with a leadership that supports Tsvangirai.”
Over the past few months, the MDC-T has been rocked by serious internal fights centred around Tsvangirai’s continued stay at the helm of the opposition party with other top officials openly challenging him to step down.
Mangoma set the ball rolling in February when he wrote to Tsvangirai advising him to pass on the leadership baton. This, however, did not go down well with Tsvangirai and other party activists, leading to Mangoma’s physical assault by suspected party members.
Mangoma was eventually suspended from the main opposition party, but Biti intervened and denounced the move as ultra vires the party’s constitution.
Biti and Mangoma later teamed up with other disgruntled officials and “suspended” Tsvangirai and other top party lieutenants before Tsvangirai turned the tables on Mangoma, Biti and their followers. Mashakada yesterday also urged MDC-T supporters to stage mass protests against the Zanu PF government’s failed leadership.
“We should not remain calm if we don’t want Zanu PF to rule until the next elections in 2018,” he said.
The former Economic Planning minister in the government of national unity said his party would only participate in a national plebiscite superintended by the United Nations under an enabling electoral environment. NEWSDAY