PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai have lined up a number of nationwide campaign rallies amid reports the two politicians have been shaken by the tremors caused by former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s underground campaign, particularly in the rural areas.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/TATENDA CHITAGU
Mugabe told Zanu PF supporters at Harare International Airport on Sunday that he would soon launch provincial campaigns to touch base with the electorate and mend rifts caused by factionalism.
“We will come to the provinces for meetings, telling you, with those who will organise the meetings, about the new ideas that we have to go ahead. And these issues of unity in Africa and going forward, the issues for women empowerment, youth advancement,” he said, addressing hundreds of party supporters gathered to welcome him, as he landed from the African Union Summit in Ethiopia.
Last year, the ruling party sanctioned a series of provincial rallies that were addressed by First Lady Grace Mugabe, where she handed over government-sourced farming equipment and food to party supporters.
Tsvangirai has already started his nationwide campaigns with party spokesperson Obert Gutu saying the meetings were meant to enable the MDC-T leader reconnect with the grassroots ahead of the 2018 elections.
“The president will be meeting the grassroots and I wish all of us, from the standing committee to the branch, could learn from him and emulate his politics. This is what Zimbabweans want, a hands-on person” he said.
Tsvangirai started with Harare, where he reportedly advised party members to avoid being “bought” by emerging political outfits.
“His message to Harare was that with the imminent formation of other opposition political parties, MDC-T supporters should remain alert and not be swayed by money to follow other outfits,” a source, who attended one of his meetings, said.
This followed reports that several former MDC-T officials, including former councillors, were now campaigning for Mujuru’s yet-to-be-launched party.
MDC-T Harare provincial chairperson, Eric Murayi last week confirmed that Tsvangirai met with his party structures in Glen Norah, Highfield and other suburbs in the province.
After Harare, the MDC-T leader visited Bulawayo and Masvingo last week, where he also rallied party members to remain united and resist the temptation to jump ship. Tomorrow, Tsvangirai is also expected to visit six districts in Masvingo, where the party has lost its Chiredzi North district chairperson Josphats Chapfidza and Mangezi Mangezi of Bikita to PF.
Zanu PF also lost its former Chivi South MP Irvine Dzingirai to PF a fortnight ago, while the entire People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Masvingo provincial executive has defected to Mujuru, dealing a body blow to its leader Tendai Biti.
MDC-T Masvingo provincial chairperson James Gumbi confirmed that Tsvangirai would be touring six districts in the province.
“For now, the president is not going to have a star rally in Masvingo, he said he is going to visit six districts in the province. He will go to Masvingo rural, Gutu, Chivi, Chiredzi and Bikita and we are negotiating so that he visits Zaka,” said Gumbi. “We will arrange for a star rally thereafter if there is need,” he added.
Asked if these were not emergency meetings held in reaction to Mujuru’s penetration in Masvingo, MDC-T provincial spokesperson, Dusty Zivave brushed off the suggestion.
“The coming of the president is just like any other ordinary visit, it was a provincial council meeting provided for in the constitution done every three months,” he said.