Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai says there is a “coup” plot against him and that some people want to “remove him violently”, just a day after his loyalists assaulted senior party officials who have called for leadership renewal.Mr Tsvangirai made the remarks to a sparse crowd that showed up for a rally in Glen Norah, Harare, that was supposed to have been a major show of public support for the embattled MDC-T leader.
His statement was in apparent reference to party secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma, who did not attend the rally. MDC-T’s youth executive also snubbed the rally.
Youths believed to be aligned to Mr Tsvangirai beat up Mr Mangoma and youth leader Mr Promise Mkwananzi outside MDC-T’s headquarters on Saturday, while Mr Biti only escaped the attentions of the reportedly intoxicated mob by throwing himself into the party leader’s car. Another youth leader, Mr Solomon Madzore, had to beat a hasty retreat back into the party headquarters.
Mr Mangoma, as have several other MDC-T officials, has called for Mr Tsvangirai to step down after leading the party to electoral losses against Zanu-PF and President Mugabe in 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2013.
Mr Tsvangirai told those supporters who turned up for yesterday’s rally: “You should wait for the congress. Who doesn’t want competition? If you win then I will accept. Ko zve coup zvabva nekupi? (Where is the push for a coup coming from)?
“Instead of passing the baton to you, you want to remove me violently. We are one family and we don’t want any confrontation. We want dialogue. We must be able to sit down and solve all these problems. There is a need for dialogue. Whatever internal problems we have we will solve them.”
Mr Tsvangirai then claimed that Saturday’s violence was orchestrated by State-sponsored elements.
“They pretended to be MDC supporters so that we are labelled as violent. As MDC we are not violent, we are actually victims of violence. We have been targets of State-sponsored violence,” he said.
In another sign that all is not well in the opposition party, which was part of a coalition government less than a year ago, Mr Tsvangirai revealed that the MDC-T was broke.
He urged party members to make monetary contributions to MDC-T, vindicating reports that traditional Western donors have dumped the formation.
“Every member of the MDC must now contribute something for the struggle starting from March. We don’t want programmes to stop because we don’t have cash,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai also took a swipe at the media for exposing his private life and related personal and party-related circumstances.
The media have widely reported on the MDC-T leader’s marital woes and alleged financial problems.
While several senior party officials were conspicuous by their absence yesterday, among those who showed up were deputy president Ms Thokozani Khupe, organising Secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa, deputy national chair Mr Morgen Komichi and spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora.
Mr Mwonzora was at pains to clear leadership complicity in the latest act of intra-party violence. In the past, other senior officials have been attacked by party supporters with Mr Tsvangirai pointedly not condoning any disciplinary action in all the cases.
Those attacked include former secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube, former legislator Mrs Pricila Misihairabwi Mushonga, security chief Mr Peter Guhu, national director for policy and research Mr Fortune Gwaze, diplomat and former legislator Mrs Trudy Steveson, and director-general Mr Toendepi Shonhe.