PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent visit to ailing MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, appears to have generated heated political debate and divided public opinion, over its motives.
We wonder why this should be so, given that besides their different political ideologies, Mnangagwa and Tsvangirai are related and both once served as former President Robert Mugabe’s lieutenants during the inclusive government era.
While many could have rushed to conclude that Mnangagwa intended to make political capital out of the visit, we believe there is also need to look at it from another perspective.
Could it really be possible for a sitting President to visit his ailing opponent and do so in privacy hoping the details would not leak in this day of modern technology and citizen journalism?
One other thing that Mnangagwa’s critics appear to have forgotten is that Mugabe also once visited Tsvangirai, while he was in hospital eight years ago following an horrific car accident that killed the opposition leader’s first wife, Susan.
There was no outcry then about the visit, which was also widely covered by the media.
Although Tsvangirai’s deputy, Nelson Chamisa, was accused of inviting Mnangagwa and the media in a bid to expose his principal’s poor health, we are sure that if the MDC-T leader’s family, and his party, wanted that visit to be private, they could have made that request and we are sure it would have been granted.
In fact, MDC-T activists were the first to break the news and disclose details of Mnangagwa’s planned visit to Tsvangirai’s residence, and we wonder why there has been such hullabaloo over the publicity given to the event.
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In any case, it’s already in the public domain that Tsvangirai is battling ill-health, so Mnangagwa’s visit should not be perceived as a political coup, but a gesture of goodwill in the spirit of hunhu/Ubuntu.
What also could have been a bone of contention is if whatever was discussed was not made public.
The assurances given by Mnangagwa, particularly on the issues of Tsvangirai’s pension and medical bills, could not be classified as portraying the President in a saintly light because the MDC-T leader was already demanding them.
The President, therefore, merely picked up from where Mugabe left.
At a national level, this probably indicates that the politics of hate and violence, which has characterised the country’s body politic, particularly Zanu PF and the MDC-T, is coming to an end.
If ever we entertain any hope of healing our bruised nation, Mnangagwa’s gesture to reach out to Tsvangirai should be used as a template to cultivate a new culture of tolerance and reconciliation regardless of our different political persuasions.
The same spirit should cascade down to the grassroots structures and help shed off hate speech and intolerance, especially now as the nation heads to crunch polls in the next few months.