HARARE – Morgan Tsvangirai’s long absence due to ill-health has thrown the MDC into disarray amid rising concerns that with polls only less than five months away, the country’s largest opposition party could be missing an opportunity to deal with the former trade unionist’s succession, the Daily News can report.
Tsvangirai left for South Africa on January 5 for his routine check-up.
His party has not indicated when the MDC leader is expected back in the country.
It has been his longest absence ever since he was diagnosed with cancer of the colon in 2016.
Since 2016, Tsvangirai has been in-and-out of neighbouring South Africa to receive treatment.
His visits are becoming more frequent and prolonged, causing prickly debates in the MDC Alliance which is fielding Tsvangirai as its presidential candidate in the forthcoming harmonised polls.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zanu PF has already indicated that the country would go to polls before July 31.
His resurgent Zanu PF is aiming to capitalise on Tsvangirai’s ill-health, the absence of key reforms to level the uneven political playing field and the fact that the opposition in its entirety is in disarray.
While there is no doubt that Mnangagwa will be the face of Zanu PF at the polls — having been confirmed the party’s presidential candidate at a special congress held last month — the MDC is struggling to sell Tsvangirai to the public as his health crisis continues mounting.
MDC secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora, confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that Tsvangirai’s sickness has indeed left the party weaker and almost desperate.
He said: “The MDC of today is greatly affected by the health of president Tsvangirai. The MDC has not recovered from that; we hope that he recovers soon”.
This week, Tsvangirai took the unprecedented step of taking to social media to dispel reports that he has been given only three months to live by his doctors in order to manage anxieties in his party where his three deputies — Thokozani Khupe, Nelson Chamisa and Elias Mudzuri — are already at each other’s throats over his succession.
“It is all speculation. No deadline has been given to me and my family. I am getting routine attention like any other cancer patient and I will be back in Zimbabwe shortly. Meanwhile, let’s all register to vote and those who can attend the Alliance rallies do not mind the madness,” read his post.
The MDC leader also indicated that there has been progress not only in terms of his health but also the party’s preparations for the synchronised polls.
“While we are not progressing at a preferred speed, we are neither stationary nor marching backwards. We are staggering ahead for complete . . . and in unity for the next generation,” he said.
His family also weighed in last week, announcing on Friday that his health was improving.
While Tsvangirai’s past medical trips were brief, this time around he has stayed longer in South Africa.
Although MDC Alliance, which he heads, is doing all it can to canvass for support ahead of the polls, it is apparent that it lacks the pulling power of the ailing former prime minister.
The bickering in the Alliance and the MDC party is also getting out of hand amid indications that the ructions have left party structures in turmoil.
Serious divisions have emerged in the Alliance over the allocation of seats to parties that are signatories to its agreement of August 5, 2017.
Khupe, Tsvangirai’s longest serving deputy, is going against the agreement by encouraging members of her faction to stand in constituencies reserved for smaller parties that are part of the MDC Alliance.
She is also boycotting meetings convened by Mudzuri, the acting party president, raising fears that the MDC could split for the third time in 13 years.
It is also quite apparent that the party is poorly funded, with its traditional sponsors in the west preferring to assess the situation in Zimbabwe from the sidelines in the wake of former president Robert Mugabe’s ouster engineered by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
This is at a time when its major rival Zanu PF is oiling its machinery ahead of the keenly-anticipated elections.
Next month, Zanu PF will be reorganising its structures to make sure that there are no contradictions in its rank and file ahead of the polls.
Soon, the party will be going to primary elections to select those who will stand on the party’s ticket in both National Assembly and local government polls.
The ruling party’s national political commissar, Engelbert Rugeje, announced that the party would have district and provincial elections next month which will be followed by primary elections.
“Next month on the 28th, we are going to have our district elections. These will be followed by the provincial elections. As the president has mentioned that the elections will be held soon this year, we are also going to hold our primary elections,” said Rugeje.
Party leader, Mnangagwa has been on a charm offensive since taking power from Mugabe in November last year.
He is bristling with confidence and has since declared that his party will win the forthcoming elections.
“So, we will make sure that in a few months’ time, we proclaim a general election. The country is very peaceful and is expecting these elections and I have no doubt I will sweep the elections,” said Mnangagwa.
Political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, told the Daily News yesterday that the cash-strapped MDC is already behind in terms of planning and Tsvangirai’s health only worsens the situation.
“Yes, time is running out for the MDC. What is true is that currently with confusion in MDC, Mnangagwa’s main opposition is from the economy. I think there are people in the MDC who are occupying key positions and are working undercover for Mnangagwa,” opined Saungweme.
“They want Mnangagwa to win; which he will given the confusion and divisions in opposition, military fear factor in Zanu PF and an uneven playfield. Whatever the case, the opposition went or died with Mugabe’s demise. Now it’s time for opposition to reorganise — do away with patronage politics and prepare for 2023. 2018 is taken by Mnangagwa and he may co-opt other opposition members after the elections to help resuscitate economy,” he added.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, a political analyst, said the MDC has to rope in the party’s founding members such as Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube to re-energise its 2018 poll campaign.
Biti now leads People’s Democratic Party (PDP) while Ncube is president of the smaller formation of the MDC.
“If the criminal elements in the power struggles in the MDC are allowed to have their way, there is a huge possibility that the party after Morgan may be history.
“In order to stop this, the party — guided by Morgan — should bring back solid founding members of the party like Ncube, Tendai Biti and others to bring rigour and solidity in how the party confronts the military-led regime of Mnangagwa.
“Tsvangirai’s undoubted leadership and legacy will be cemented if he leaves behind a united party with its founding leaders not the crooks and tomfoolery infighting characterised by his current lieutenants,” said Ruhanya.
Ruhanya said as it stands today, there is no evident thought leadership in the party as evidenced by the glaring policy shortcomings in the MDC.
He said the quarrels taking place in the party were not policy-based but content-free and bankrupt of any ideological contestation.
“There is no contestation of ideas but power. It looks like the Grace Mugabe-driven group; very content-free but hugely power hungry. That is disastrous,” said Ruhanya.
Watch: South Africans give notice to foreigners to leave SA before June 16
With no sign of economic hardships disappearing in Zimbabwe, those who have escaped to South Africa are living in fear as locals have threatened to chase them if they don’t leave on their own accord.
Warnings of an operation to get South Africa rid of foreign nationals on the 16th of June continue to circulate.
Recently, a video surfaced on social media showing the ogarnisers of the operation dubbed, OPERATION DUDULA serving seven day notices to some foreign nationals to vacate the country.
WE WILL BE REMOVING ALL ILLEGAL FOREIGNERS BY FORCE!!!
SIDUDULA INSIDE SHOPS AND HAWKERS
IF YOU ARE OPERATING ILLEGALLY YOU BETTER PACK AND GO BEFORE 16 JUNE 2021!!!
– reads the notice.
While the poster specifies that illegal foreigners will be targeted it however does not state that documented ones will be spared.
Such attacks, as occurred before, ended up targeting all immigrants regardless of their status.
Dudula which means “push” brings horrific and sad memories of xenophobic attacks that happened in the country in 2015. Many people were killed, some burnt alive, while some were left homeless as their homes were destroyed.
Just like it happened before, the South African Police Services (SAPS) ignored warnings of imminent attacks on immigrants which then led to the bloodshed.
Similarly, at this point, the SAPS or any government have not said anything about the threats on foreign citizens in their country.
In one of the videos circulating online, the pro Dudula Operation people can be heard blaming the loadshedding on illegal connections supposedly done by foreign nationals.
— izim (@izim_og) June 13, 2021
Local truck drivers have been at loggerheads with their foreign counterparts accusing them of stealing their jobs and accepting low wages and inhuman working conditions.
The situation has left the Zimbabwean and other foreign drivers prone to abuse even when they are legally in the country.
Members of a local drivers organisation, well known for violent attacks on drivers and trucks, have been targeting foreign drivers sjamboking them while recording videos which are then spread online.
They do this to humiliate their victims and instill fear on their colleagues.
It's now a game, playing with a man's feelings. So humiliating you may never know how the next victim will respond. This was at Majuba powerstation over the weekend. @SAPoliceService @Dotransport @dewamavhinga @hrw pic.twitter.com/nxKlMfShGT
— SA Trucker (@rsa_trucker) June 7, 2021
No reports of arrest of the perpetrators have been made yet.
For the Zimbabweans and other foreigners in the country, it remains to be seen if they will still call South Africa home after the June 16 2021.
The date concides with South Africa’s youth day when they commemorate the heroics of the youths of 1976 who were massacred by the army after revolting against apartheid.
Fraudster arrested after swipping for $390 000 groceries
A fraudster has been arrested after he swiped for groceries worth more than $398 000 at OK Supermarket in Hwange using a bank card that had been tampered with.
The man, Brian Pedzisa of Chitungwiza, was arrested on Thursday and is suspected to be among a gang of people who have been using cloned cards and other bank card related tactics to con various retail shops across the country.
Detectives on Thursday pounced on Pedzisa at the supermarket, moments after he was about to get out after swiping for groceries worth $396 384.
Matabeleland North provincial police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda confirmed the incident and said police were now looking for two other people linked to the sca
“On 10 June 2021 a gang of three fraudsters tried to defraud OK Hwange Supermarket of groceries worth $396 384.
One of the fraudsters successfully used an electronic Visa card to make purchases but before he could make off he was arrested by a team of watchful detectives who were working on a tip-off. Upon being interviewed the suspect revealed that he was working with two other accomplices who are still at large,” said Insp Banda.
He said the gang had used the same strategy to defraud OK Mart Victoria Falls of an undisclosed amount in groceries. He appealed to members of the public to assist with information leading to their arrest.
“The two accomplices are on the run anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of these two criminals can report at the nearest police station,” said Insp Banda.
He called on shop owners to enhance security to avoid such incidents which were on the rise in the country.
“As police we would like to implore shop owners to enhance security at their premises through use of alarm systems and Closed Circuit Television. Retailers should examine electronic cards and do necessary verifications before processing of electronic transactions. For the record some fraudsters misrepresent themselves as humanitarian workers.”
According to sources privy to the incident, the gang would approach the supermarkets seeking a quotation for groceries pretending that the transaction wanted would be effected from a nostro account. Later one of the gang members would return to make purchases using a Visa card whose microchip would have been tampered with. Sunday News
Gutu Inter-Africa bus and Honda Fit accident victims all from same family
GUTU- Police has announced names of the Gutu accident victims who were involved in a Honda Fit – Bus collision along the Gutu- Chivhu Highway yesterday.
The five were killed when their vehicle collided head-on with an Inter-Africa Bus near Matizha Business Centre in Gutu.
National Police Spokesperson Insp Paul Nyathi announced the names of the deceased family members who were travelling from Harare as Francis Chagweda (33)the driver, Mavis Chagweda (61), Lloyd Chagweda (31), Viola Chagweda (35) and Keresensia Mapaaona (28).
According to a family member, Oscar Chagweda the now deceased were travelling to Chiwara in Gutu for a family function when the tragedy happened.
An eyewitness told I ZIM that the accident occured after the Inter-Africa bus tried to overtake another bus. “It then encroached onto the lane of the oncoming Honda fit which swerved to avoid collision,” said the witness.
The Honda fit reportedly swerved off the road but the bus did the same resulting in the head on collision.
Only one person from the car survived the horific accident and was taken to Matizha clinic before she was transferred to Gutu Rural Hospital for treatment.
During the covid-19 induced Lockdown, government banned private kombis allowing only those registered under ZUPCO to operate resulting in little non-commercial vehicles overloading passengers.
Yesterday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as the Health and Child Care Minister announced another Covid -19 regulations which gave a waiver to public transport operators.
However, the transport sector is also now dominated by “mushikashika” vehicles some of which include Toyota Wish and Honda fit vehicles who have the capacity to carry 4 or 5 passengers , however some of these vehicles end up carrying as many as nine passengers.