There was drama at the MDC-T rally at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on Sunday after an angry Women Assembly chairperson Theresa Makone refused to sit in the VIP tent amid reports she had been chastised for her alleged interference in Manicaland provincial women structures by trying to impose her “loyalists”.
A visibly angry Makone, who is also Home Affairs co-minister, walked out of her vehicle near the VIP tent, but surprised senior party officials after she refused to join them in the VIP tent, bursting: “I am not going there. Why should I go there? I am not coming there.”
In the heat of the moment, Makone dragged a chair and sat behind the VIP tent.
MDC-T deputy organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe, former Harare provincial chairperson Morgan Femai and other senior party officials could be seen trying to calm down Makone who, nevertheless, would not budge, opting to return back into her car.
It took efforts by several MDC-T leaders to finally pacify her and plead with her “not to overreact” in full glare of the media.
In apparent reference to Makone’s outbursts and alleged factionalism in the party, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC-T president, said leaders should not be angry forever.
“If you are a leader, learn to forgive. Do you think we will be sitting with President (Robert) Mugabe if I wouldn’t have forgiven?” Tsvangirai said.
The incident showed how fractious the majority party has become as deep-rooted divisions in the MDC-T Manicaland provincial structures threaten to tear the party through the middle.
The tension comes hard on the heels of an open clash between senior provincial party leaders and secretary-general Tendai Biti, accused of leading a faction in the province, after he reprimanded six MPs on allegations of fanning divisions.
Yesterday, Makone, however, downplayed the incident, saying she was sick and had forgotten to take her tablets.
Other MDC-T officials also tried to make light of the incident by giving different explanations.
But, a source confirmed there was a confrontation during a meeting in Mutare which was the source of Makone’s anger.
Party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “As far as I am concerned, she was taken ill. I don’t know if there is anything, but all I know is she was not feeling well.”
However, NewsDay witnessed an angry Makone, but no one could explain the reason.
Makone said there had been a meeting before the rally, which was normal, but there were no confrontations.
On allegations that she was interfering with party structures, Makone said: “I am the national chairperson of the Women Assembly and there is no province I cannot enter.”