PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson, George Charamba yesterday said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai’s Highlands home on Friday was purely on compassionate grounds, although he later discussed the opposition leader’s pension, medical bills as well as resolving the issue of his house.
Charamba said Tsvangirai, like many opposition party leaders, had requested to meet Mnangagwa soon after the latter’s inauguration over a month ago, but the new Zanu PF leader had other pressing commitments.
Mnangagwa, Charamba revealed, was committed to meet other opposition leaders, but chose to start with Tsvangirai after receiving intelligence reports that the former Prime Minister was unwell.
“Fundamentally, the reason of the visit on Friday was compassionate. By the way, the President and Mr Tsvangirai are related. He is my relative too,” Charamba said.
“The fact that he is his relative and is not well, he put him above all and second, the arrangement that was there historically that the government of Zimbabwe was footing medical bills for Mr Tsvangirai. Due to his condition and the urgent need for medical attention, it became imperative to see him.”
Charamba said the meeting had to address Tsvangirai’s financial issues due to his health, emphasising that the new Zanu PF leader simply took over from where former President Robert Mugabe left, to take care of Tsvangirai’s welfare in recognition of the role he played as former Prime Minister.
“It has to be understood that Tsvangirai is no longer formally in employment and is not well, so there was need to work on an agreement on the value of the house and how he can service the mortgage.”
Mnangagwa visited Tsvangirai last Friday in the company of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga had generated a lot of speculation, with critics accusing the President of seeking to build political capital out of the frail opposition leader, whose pictures immediately went viral on social media platforms.
The visits also triggered sharp divisions in the MDC-T, with some party hawks accusing Tsvangirai’s deputy, Nelson Chamisa of inviting Mnangagwa and the media in a bid to expose his principal’s poor health.
Tsvangirai, who has been in charge of the opposition party since its formation in 1999, is under pressure to step down on health grounds.
But other MDC-T insiders insisted that the meeting was at Tsvangirai’s request.
“Tsvangirai requested for a meeting with Mnangagwa two weeks ago to discuss the issue of his pension benefits and the date was set, but not immediately communicated to the MDC-T leader,” the source claimed.
“Tsvangirai made a follow-up, and the President told him a date had already been set and would instead visit him for the meeting at his home than to ask him to come to his office because of health condition.”
Chamisa yesterday took to social media, chastising people he claimed were peddling falsehoods about the Mnangagwa’s visit.
“The president’s (Tsvangirai) personal decisions are made personally. We must respect the president’s right to a happy life, dignity and private space. Let none of us hope to paint black what is otherwise a clearly white peace-seeking dove. Instead of giving our president our unwelcome doses of petty politics, the people’s leader needs and deserves our prayers as a nation,” Chamisa wrote on Facebook.