ZIMBABWE – Panicky MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai has lined up a series of pre-emptive strikes to dilute power bases of his main internal rival, Mr Nelson Chamisa.
Insiders told The Sunday Mail last week that Mr Tsvangirai plans to meet Mr Chamisa to assert his waning authority.
The meeting could take place as early as this week, though some reports suggest Mr Chamisa is non-committal and any engagements will be on his own terms.
The sources said Mr Tsvangirai has also been meeting various party structures garner support.
“The meeting has been initiated by Tsvangirai, even though Cobra (as Mr Chamisa’s supporters call him) appears uninterested . . .
“The truth is: Yes, Chamisa has a faction and his followers are known. That is why Tsvangirai is now frantically going around, meeting leaders at various levels of the party. Who knows? Maybe Cobra will emerge victorious or Tsvangirai will assert his position.”
Another source in the party’s national standing committee said Mr Chamisa and his allies, among them Energy Minister in the inclusive Government Engineer Elias Mudzuri and Mkoba National Assembly representative Mr Moses Chibaya, have held several meetings in Midlands.
Reports of these gatherings got to Mr Tsvangirai, whose close acolytes called for Mr Chamisa’s expulsion from MDC-T when the standing committee met in Harare two weeks ago.
Deputy treasurer Mr Charlton Hwende – a Chamisa loyalist – reportedly threatened to resign after he was barred from the standing committee meeting.
Mr Tsvangirai persuaded him to stay, and subsequently sought to meet Mr Chamisa.
MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu confirmed Mr Tsvangirai’s and Mr Chamisa’s scheduled meeting, but tried to downplay the agenda.
“Remember, our leader is full-time at Harvest House, so he meets other leaders of the party . . . at any given time,” he said.
The fallout came to a head when Mr Tsvangirai reportedly blocked Mr Chamisa’s bid to become party secretary-general at MDC-T’s 2014 congress.
At a recent rally in Chitungwiza, Mr Tsvangirai said some officials were plotting against him. A week later, Mr Chamisa shot back saying his boss was seeing shadows.
At the burial of Harare Deputy Mayor Thomas Muzuva in Hwedza, youths aligned to the two nearly traded blows.
Mr Chamisa’s supporters gave him a standing ovation when he arrived moments later, with youths chanting “Cobra! Cobra!”.