Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
OPPOSITION MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s tour of Mashonaland East over the weekend turned to be miserable affair as he attracted paltry crowds at rallies he addressed.
Mr Tsvangirai addressed rallies in Marondera, Mudzi and Mutoko on Saturday before a scheduled rally in Chikomba on Sunday, but had to be content with a handful of supporters some of whom he had bussed from Harare.
In Marondera, the opposition leader addressed about 200 people and faced an estimated 100 people at Kotwa Growth point in Mudzi, which was snubbed even by his own party structures as only nine out of 18 wards in the district attended.
It was the same story in Mutoko where less than 100 people turned up.
The opposition leader cancelled a scheduled visit to the Dzamara homestead in Nyamakosi Village where he was expected to address the family of journalist-cum-political-activist Itai Dzamara who was last seen in public last year.
The opposition, its civic society allies and Western embassies have rallied to blame Government for the alleged disappearance of Dzamara without substantiating their claims.
Mr Tsvangirai told his supporters that he was assessing the state of the party ahead of elections in 2018 and urged structures to recruit more people and said he was going to engage the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to have his supporters registered.
He promised his followers that he had the keys to unlock the economy.
Mr Tsvangirai said MDC-T should take advantage of what he described as infighting in the ruling party and challenged Zanu-PF to name President Mugabe’s successor so that he would know his opponent in 2018.
Commenting on the party’s tour, MDC-T spokesman Mr Obert Gutu, said his boss was connecting with the people and hearing their grievances.
“President Morgan Tsvangirai is a natural grassroots mobiliser who is a very firm believer in the retail brand of politics. He believes in meeting with people and supporters at grassroots, one-on-one level, talking to them and discussing pertinent socio-economic and political issues with them.
“His countrywide tours afford him an opportunity to hear from the horse’s mouth, so to speak,’’ said Mr Gutu.
“He’s connecting with the toiling masses of Zimbabwe and listening to their daily trials and tribulations. These tours also give him an opportunity to fully explain the MDC policies on pertinent national issues such as job creation, food production and food provision, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, etc.
“President Tsvangirai is giving the people of Zimbabwe a message of hope,” he said.
But Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial secretary for administration and Marondera East MP Cde Lawrence Katsiru, scoffed at the opposition and said the low turnout at MDC-T rallies showed that the party was finished.
Speaking to The Herald before an inter-district meeting at Murehwa Centre on Sunday, Cde Katsiru said: “The fact that they could not gather more than 100 people in Mudzi and Mutoko and only had a sizeable crowd in an urban centre shows that the party is finished.
“It means that all their support cannot even constitute one of our wards.”
He said the ruling party remained strong for the opposition in the province.
Meanwhile, the ruling party in the province lifted its recommendations for the expulsion of three members, who are also legislators, namely Cdes Tendai Makunde (Murehwa North), Felix Mhona (Chikomba Central), Washington Masvaire (Maramba-Pfungwe).
The trio were recently reprimanded at national level and Cde Katsiru said yesterday’s meeting was to tell the district leadership to work with the trio again as the province had also reprimanded and forgiven them.