THE late MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai’s funeral proceedings continued to be characterised by drama, with his two deputies, Thokozani Khupeand Elias Mudzuri seemingly frozen out at a function at freedom square in Harare yesterday, while their counterpart Nelson Chamisa seemed to get a ringing endorsement.
Chamisa was the only one given a platform to speak, effectively shutting out the other two vice-presidents, a move that the multitudes seemed to approve of, but which drew the ire of other MDC-T senior leaders, who accused the master of ceremonies of trying to prop up the former.
The crowd kept on chanting Chamisa’s name, and rushed to the podium when he was about to deliver his keynote address.
Tsvangirai’s mother, Lydia Zvaipa, who stirred a hornet’s nest by saying she would commit suicide if Chamisa and the MDC-T leader’s widow, Elizabeth Macheka, attended her son’s funeral, refused to get out of the hearse and followed the entire ceremony from the vehicle.
Most speakers at the gathering also failed to acknowledge the presence of his widow, Elizabeth, who sat behind MDC-T leaders, who had occupied the front row.
In his address, Chamisa, who has since assumed the MDC-T presidency on an acting basis, said despite obvious fissures, he would ensure that the party does not split.
“We hear some people saying the MDC-T will be divided, it will have several leaders,” he said.
“No, we must not rush, Tsvangirai was a unifier and we will unite.
“The party doesn’t belong to Chamisa, Khupe, Mudzuri, (MDC-T chairman, Lovemore) Moyo, (secretary-general, Douglas) Mwonzora or anyone in leadership.
“The party belongs to the people.”
Chamisa described Tsvangirai as a visionary leader, who was persecuted but remained resolute in advancing democracy in Zimbabwe.
He said the only tribute that can be given to Tsvangirai is through voting Zanu PF out of power this year.
MDC-T is deeply divided over Tsvangirai’s successor, with the three deputies all saying they are in charge, but it seems Chamisa has consolidated his position as the frontrunner, with others accusing him of being power hungry in the manner he assumed the leadership of the party following the leader’s demise.
“We have done what is necessary to make sure that there is no leadership vacuum,” Chamisa told the appreciative crowd.
“What we did is perfectly constitutional and after that we will go to the next phase which is going back to the council and make sure that we do all the processes required internally.
“What we are not going to allow is a leadership crisis, where everyone does as he or she pleases.”
He said Tsvangirai had been a visionary in appointing two more vice-presidents, himself and Mudzuri last year, saying he wanted continuity in the party and did not want generational monopoly on leadership.
Chamisa said on January 6 this year, Tsvangirai confided in him the elections and the MDC Alliance programme.
He said President Emmerson Mnangagwa was a weak and very old opponent and they do not fear his candidature, as he was previously beaten in parliamentary elections by Blessing Chebundo in Kwekwe.
Chamisa accused the government of shedding crocodile tears for Tsvangirai with the assistance they were giving to the MDC-T leader’s family.
He said when Tsvangirai was alive, he was tormented and abused, yet they now wanted to pretend they cared when he was dead.