THE divided family of ailing MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai waded into the leadership wrangle within the main opposition party with Elias Mudzuri yesterday claiming he had met the hospitalised opposition leader, as the acting president.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Since Wednesday, the MDC-T wrangle took several twists and turns that exposed a deep-seated leadership crisis, as Tsvangirai’s two deputies, Mudzuri and Nelson Chamisa, openly fought to lead the party.
Mudzuri was “demoted” through a letter from Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka on Wednesday after he flew to South Africa for a coalition workshop with other opposition parties.
The former Energy minister, however, issued a statement he claimed came from Tsvangirai disputing the position that Chamisa had taken over. This opened a floodgate of a war of words between the two camps and meanwhile, Chamisa was executing the mandate of the acting president.
But in an interview yesterday with SABC, Tsvangirai’s family confirmed only Mudzuri met the ailing leader and no other communication was posted to anyone, contrary to a statement that was earlier issued by a rival camp.
Tsvangirai’s eldest son, Edwin, confirmed Mudzuri met his father on Thursday and yesterday.
“Yes, they did engage yesterday and today as well they did engage,” Edwin told SABC News.
The family also resolved that no one from the party could claim that they met Tsvangirai without going through Edwin.
Edwin’s wife, Diana, said a lot of misinformation was being spread about fake Tsvangirai meetings with top MDC-T officials hoodwinking structures into believing they were ordained.
“What I need to categorically state is that as a family we have limited access to dad particularly when it comes to politicians, so it’s unfortunate that there has been information that he has been talking to people, but I think collectively as a family with everyone here we can say that he has not been seen or speaking to anyone in the party,” she said.
“The only person he said he will communicate through is his son Edwin and anyone who has not spoken via him is also not stating factual information.”
Mudzuri said: “Anyone else who said he communicated with him (Tsvangirai) is lying and this is the last time we are putting an end to it after I have spoken to him.”
Asked about the source of the confusion, Mudzuri said: “I think you can read between the lines and there are different ambitions. You know when there is a corner kick, people try to find how they want to score, but the time for scoring is not yet because the corner kick is not yet taken. The president might be in hospital, but he hasn’t said he is stepping down.”
Mudzuri said Tsvangirai was still the presidential candidate for this year’s harmonised elections.
“Should he think otherwise, he will invite me again without anyone trying to send any confusing communication, then he will give me the instruction. If he doesn’t, then he has already told me on the steps that should be taken to ensure that we bring sanity and make sure that MDC-T wins the elections,” he said.
Although admitting that the leadership wangle was sending bad signal to the structures, Mudzuri said he was feeling energised that the matter had been put to rest and that any future communication would be done through him to avoid unnecessary confusion.
The former Harare mayor said MDC-T was ready for elections and they had a strategy working on the ground which would surprise their rivals, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Tsvangirai’s family said the former Prime Minister was responding well to treatment and that there was noticeable improvement in his health. They thanked the government for helping out by paying his medical bills.
Mudzuri has a tall order to pacify MDC-T structures who might react angrily to him being the acting president considering that some have already endorsed Chamisa who in turn has started meeting them, as the acting party president albeit to “reset” buttons.
Chamisa yesterday posted on his Twitter handle that he was still MDC-T acting president.
Insiders questioned Mudzuri’s claim to the acting position when he was out of the country.
Earlier, the youth assembly youth leader Happymore Chidziva warned Mudzuri to stop masquerading as the party leader, basing on Tamborinyoka’s statement.
“Mudzuri remains our vice-president, but he must not appear as if he is so much power-hungry and continue clinging to power as acting president. President Tsvangirai is the one with the powers to appoint or dis-appoint and this position is rotational,” Chidziva said.
“He must not sow confusion in the country and keep on claiming to be the acting president as if it’s a permanent position. Tsvangirai is still there and alive and he will be back to lead.
“The reason why the decision was made is that there were two centres of power now in the party and alliance and this is a corrective measure from the president through his wisdom and he communicated through his official spokesperson,” he said.