TSVANGIRAI :KHUPE FANNING TRIBAL DIVISIONS | MDC-T vice-president Ms Thokozani Khupe, party national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo and suspended national organising secretary Mr Abednico Bhebhe yesterday boycotted a low-key launch of the MDC Alliance held at White City Stadium in Bulawayo as it has become apparent that the fractious opposition party is headed for another split.
The trio is against an alliance with other political parties, arguing that the party can go it alone in the Matabeleland region. MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai subtly responded to the trio’s boycott with a thinly veiled dig at his deputy, whom he accused of attempting to divide the party along ethnic lines.
Ms Khupe’s boycott was felt as the alliance only drew just over 2 000 supporters to the launch, despite claiming stranglehold of urban areas, particularly Bulawayo. Addressing the thrifty gathering, Mr Tsvangirai, in apparent reference to Ms Khupe, Mr Moyo and Mr Bhebhe who are all from Matabeleland, described people who promote ethnicity as dangerous.
“I’m very concerned that we are now forming different groupings and formations. Zezuru unconquerable, Karanga invincible, Ndebele hegemony.
This is a very dangerous development. This country should never be divided on the basis of ethnicity. Those who are promoting ethnicity and ethnic affiliations are dangerous for this country,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai said the alliance was bigger than individual parties and leaders should not prioritise personal ambitions ahead of interests of the greater membership. In what seemed like a reluctant extension of an olive branch to his renegade deputy Mr Tsvangirai said while there may be differences within the individual political parties, dialogue should always take precedence over any other action.
“This alliance is a far bigger vision than the individual political parties that are in it. In our individual parties we may have disputes, we may have differences, but nothing beats dialogue. That is leadership. Even if you disagree with me, the first basis you must understand is that nothing beats dialogue,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai also predicted more squabbles within the opposition coalition.“As we move to a new Zimbabwe led by the alliance, you will see that there will be squabbling here and there. Some of the disputes will be informed by individual personal interests,” he said.
Meanwhile, MDC-T MP for Mkoba constituency in Gweru Mr Amos Chibaya let the cat out of the bag when he inadvertently revealed the envisage leadership hierarchy of the MDC Alliance. Mr Chibaya, who was one of the directors of ceremonies, introduced MDC president Professor Welshman Ncube as the vice-president of the MDC Alliance as he called him to the podium to address the gathering.
The sitting arrangement at the high table and the order in which the alliance principals addressed the gathering had already strongly hinted how power is likely to be distributed in the coalition. Mr Tsvangirai, who was accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, sat in the middle flanked by Prof Ncube, who sat immediately on his right, and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mr Tendai Biti who was sitting on Mr Tsvangirai’s left.
Leaders of the smaller political parties in the alliance, Retired Brigadier-General Agrippa Mutambara, of the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), Transform Zimbabwe president, Mr Jacob Ngarivhume and Multiracial Christian Democrats, (MCD) leader Mr Mathias Guchutu sat at further away from Mr Tsvangirai although they were on the high table.
Mr Ngarivhume was the first among the party leaders to speak, followed by Rtd Brig-Gen Mutambara, Mr Guchutu, Mr Biti, Prof Ncube before Mr Tsvangirai who is leader of the alliance gave the keynote address.
Mr Biti, who in the past had been adamant that the coalition was yet to endorse Mr Tsvangirai as its leader yesterday referred to Mr Tsvangirai as “the leader of the alliance” during his salutation, in an apparent endorsement.
Rtd Brig-Gen Mutambara spelled doom for the coalition after he said the alliance will disintegrate into the individual small political formations after the elections.
“Some of our supporters are saying we have been swallowed. No, that’s not it. This is a tactical alliance. After removing Zanu-PF we will return to our parties because there is freedom of association in this country,” he said to a muted response from the crowd that was largely MDC-T.
PDP secretary-general Mr Gorden Moyo was conspicuous by his absence at the launch, while MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairman Councillor Gift Banda, who seems to have broken ranks with Ms Khupe attended and gave the welcoming remarks.