MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai has mastered the art of using tribalism to entrench his hold on the opposition party, a former cabinet minister has said.
This comes as Tsvangirai is facing one of the biggest tests as party president with another party split looming over the newly formed MDC Alliance.
The formation of an alliance involving some opposition political figures who once belonged to the united MDC was not met well by some of Tsvangirai’s lieutenants including vice present Thokozani Khupe.
Khupe together with party chairman Lovemore Moyo and Organising Secretary Abedicco Bhebhe boycotted the official launches of the alliance in both Harare and Bulawayo, a telling sign that the biggest opposition party is headed for troubled waters.
Addressing a crowd at the launch of the alliance in Bulawayo last week, Tsvangirai blasted the rebelling party members.
“I’m very concerned that we are now forming different groupings and formations. Zezuru un-conquerable, Karanga invincible, Ndebele hegemony; This is a very dangerous development. This country should never be divided on the basis of ethnicity. Those who are promoting ethnicity and ethnic affiliations are dangerous for this country,” said Tsvangirai.
However, Tsvangirai has attracted a backlash from political leaders in Matabeleland region who view his utterances as bigoted.
“Suggesting that people are dangerous when they raise legitimate issues of concern in a tribally polarised country such as Zimbabwe is recklessly selfish, insensitive and dumb.
“It reflects total failure to understand some of the most fundamental drivers of political passion in Matebeleland and The Midlands,” said Alliance for National Salvation (ANSA) Interim President Moses Mzila-Ndlovu.
“The reasons are pure and simple. Besides, this is a serious threat to the victims of Zanu PF induced tribal inequalities and segregation systematically conducted against this region since 1980.”
Mzila-Ndlovu, a former core-Minister of National Healing and Reconciliation, said Tsvangirai had adopted the same modus operandi from President Mugabe who has used the same strategy to maintain his grip on power.
“We wonder where Tsvangirai lives and what exactly his political agenda is. The evidence at hand suggests that we should not wonder too far as it has become so clear that Morgan is just cut from the same cloth as Mugabe and the rest of them.
“Obviously Tsvangirai lacks the mental capacity to comprehend what accounts for sound tribal and racial relations as a basis for social harmony. That lack of capacity further explains why he is such an unstable and unpredictable personality, why he vacillates between Zanu PF factions, being easily pulled in different directions by anyone he ever discusses anything with,” he added.
Mzila-Ndlovu said Tsvangirai was a “beneficiary of the tribal discontent in Matebeleland” with the opposition party enjoying massive support since its formation at the turn of the century.
“This is the region that has consistently resisted and rejected Zanu PF over the years, paying a huge price for their resilience in terms of mass loss of life, loss of land, loss of job opportunity, loss of dignity, loss of equality, loss of justice to outsiders, loss of freedoms to enjoy independence,” said Mzila-Ndlovu.
He also criticised Tsvangirai for accommodating “dangerous” Zimbabwe People First leader Retired Brigadier Agrippa Mutambara into the alliance.
Judith Todd, daughter of former PM and prominent rights activist during the Gukurahundi era back in the 1980s, has accused Mutambara of raping her.
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