Pressure has been mounting on the former Prime Minister amid reports that ex-Vice President Joice Mujuru’s yet-to-be-launched People First (PF) has made inroads into MDC-T strongholds including rocking the main opposition party’s structures.
Tsvangirai reportedly summoned the party’s provincial top brass for a meeting at his Highlands home at the weekend following the reports with claims that serving and former MPs were ready to jump ship and join Mujuru’s fledgling movement.
MDC-T provincial chairperson Eric Murayi confirmed today’s meeting.
“Yes, we have called for a provincial assembly at Harvest House (MDC-T headquarters). But this is our meeting and we will invite the president,” Murayi said.
Sources told NewsDay a message sent to all structures by the party’s deputy provincial secretary-general, identified as Mai Mapanzure, read in part: “Compliments of the new season. All structures from branch to district are required to meet with the president without fail on Thursday January 14 at 1630hrs.”
Tsvangirai’s position as the biggest threat to President Robert Mugabe’s stranglehold on power has been rocked following Mujuru’s expulsion from Zanu PF at the tail-end of 2014 before she turned into an opposition leader now fronting PF.
Tsvangirai’s aide Hebson Makuvise, on the other hand, has reportedly been trying to pacify restive former lawmakers, most of whom were elbowed out of their positions in the run-up to the disastrous 2013 elections.
The MDC-T fared dismally despite a campaign that seemed to indicate it would win the poll. Tsvangirai argued Mugabe had rigged the poll as “he has done in all other elections before”, describing it as “the greatest electoral fraud of our time”.
But MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu insisted it was a “routine meeting”.
“As I have already advised you, president Morgan Tsvangirai is the chief executive officer of the party and his job is full-time. As part of his duties, he meets regularly with all cadres of the party, from the national standing committee right down to the branches.
“These are routine meetings and as the captain of the ship, this is one of the president’s core responsibilities in the discharge of his day-to-day duties. Of course, you cannot expect me to give you a blow-by-blow account of each and every meeting that our leader holds,” Gutu said.
Tsvangirai is said to have panicked after receiving reports that Mujuru was “fishing in his big tent” before calling for what has appeared to be a slew of meetings with his structures to stem the tide.
Murayi could not be drawn into revealing the number of people expected to attend the meeting but given the size of Harare, they could run into thousands of activists descending into the city centre.