MDC-T acting president, Nelson Chamisa yesterday told tens of thousands of party followers that he would quit politics if President Emmerson Mnangagwa wins the next elections, insisting the opposition party will form the next government.
Addressing mourners at the funeral of the late MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai in Humanikwa village, Buhera, Chamisa, whose leadership of the party is under contestation, insisted on uniting the party to face off with Mnangagwa.
He declared he would quit politics “if Mnangagwa wins the next election”.
“We are ready to form the next government and in September we will,” Chamisa declared to wild cheers from the crowd.
Tsvangirai, who succumbed to cancer of the colon last week, was buried at his rural homestead under a tense atmosphere, as internal power struggles stole the show.
Chamisa said he was anointed by Tsvangirai to lead the opposition outfit.
“(Former President Robert) Mugabe failed to plan his succession, but our president (Tsvangirai) did. God has a plan for everything. When a great leader dies, his protégé takes after him.
“When I was appointed vice-president, people did not understand him,” he said, dismissing calls for an extraordinary congress to elect a substantive party leader.
“First things first, our constitution is clear. You cannot just wake up and rush into an extraordinary congress.
“There is an elaborate process to be followed and we will be consulting the whole leadership.
“This is a people’s party and we will make sure nobody wrecks it at whatever cost.
“We will convene special meetings and we will not accept any noise in the cockpit. If you disobey our orders, we will deal with you.”
National People’s Party (NPP) leader and former Vice-President, Joice Mujuru announced she was ready to join hands with the MDC-T ahead of elections later this year.
“This event has reminded me of the event in Gweru (where she walked hand in hand with Tsvangirai),” she said. “We agreed with Tsvangirai in the presence of (his cousin Hebson) Makuvise that we will work together.
“Our memorandum of understanding represents the wishes of Zimbabweans. We are ready to work with you, let us work together,” she said, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Mujuru and Tsvangirai signed a memorandum to enter into a coalition, but talks collapsed over the deal and the two formed separate alliances.
Tsvangirai’s uncle, only identified as Zvaipa, said his nephew died a pauper despite his three decades of fighting for democracy.
“Tsvangirai worked hard and suffered at the hands of Zanu-PF,” he said.
“Some people made money, but he died a pauper.
“He was used as a goblin by some people to make money.
“Everyone knows this man won the 2008 elections, but being a man of the people, he refused to walk to State House skipping dead bodies.
“He allowed Mugabe to rule and the fact that the current President Emmerson Mnangagwa has allowed government to assist with his treatment and funeral means he acknowledges that this man is a hero.”
Tsvangirai’s younger brother, Manase, threw down the gauntlet and demanded that the MDC-T sticks to its democratic values to settle the current leadership dispute.
“This is not a popularity contest and you should stick to constitutionalism. Follow the rules of the party and go back to the people.
“You do not force yourself on people. Respect these people and do not handle then like toilet paper,” he said.
“This is a man, who lived a life of service and sacrifice.
“Tsvangirai persevered the brutality of a vile regime and would want to see you all united but following procedure.
“As a family, we are watching to see to it that his legacy is not washed away down the drain.”
Since his death, Tsvangirai’s family has been thrust into the limelight after seemingly choosing to side with a faction of the party that is opposed to Chamisa’s leadership and shutting out the late MDC-T leader’s widow, Elizabeth Macheka.
Tsvangirai’s golf partner, identified as Majuru, described the MDC-T leader as a rare breed of honest African politicians.
“The Tsvangirai that I knew and the one portrayed by the media, especially the State media, are different,” he said.
“Tsvangirai was an honest man and honesty is a rare trait in African politics.
“His death should be a wake up call to those in power to redefine and broaden the definition of a hero.”
Isaac Mhundwa, a brother to Tsvangirai’s late wife, Susan, also waded into the succession debate.
“It is good that if there is someone whom the people want, go back to the constitution and follow democratic tenets,” he said.
“We would be saddened that at a time we are celebrating the life of a hero, people are jostling to outdo each other.”
Veteran Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga described Tsvangirai as an African icon and international statesman.