By Mugove Tafirenyika
Top hawks in the MDC have scaled up a campaign to discredit and muzzle Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesperson on allegations of abandoning his responsibilities.
Luke Tamborinyoka, the spokesperson for the MDC leader, stands accused of taking sides in the battle to succeed the former prime minister in the unity government (2009 – 2013) who is battling cancer of the colon by speaking on behalf a faction led by one of Tsvangirai’s three deputies, Nelson Chamisa, who is considered the former trade unionist’s heir apparent.
Following Tsvangirai’s statement last week in which he hinted that he was considering retiring and handing over power to a younger leader, Tamborinyoka has been under the cosh for releasing the statement from the likes of MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora, spokesperson Obert Gutu and Ian Makone, a senior official in the party.
Gutu and Mwonzora are believed to be backing Thokozani Khupe, Tsvangirai’s longest serving deputy, in the race to succeed Tsvangirai.
Tamborinyoka is being accused of taking advantage of the MDC leader’s illness to peddle falsehoods under the guise of speaking on behalf of his boss.
It has been a dog-eat-dog affair in the MDC, since Tsvangirai sanctioned the release of the statement by his spokesperson as jostling for his position became open and brazen.
Chamisa along with the other MDC vice presidents Elias Mudzuri and Khupe have since declaring their interests in the post in the event that Tsvangirai becomes incapacitated.
Meanwhile, Mwonzora and company, according to MDC insiders, have hatched a plan to discredit Tsvangirai’s purported statement as false by issuing a counter statement with the help of one of Tsvangirai’s brothers, Collins.
The counter-statement, which was allegedly penned at Makone’s property in the capital, transfers Tamborinyoka’s responsibility to speak for Tsvangirai to acting MDC president, Mudzuri, albeit without the former Prime Minister’s blessings.
While Gutu was not taking calls, Makone refused to respond to the allegations that he was behind the statement saying, “I don’t speak to journalists, thank you”.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Mwonzora said he was elected overwhelmingly to be secretary-general of the MDC and not for any other post.
Concerning the family letter, Mwonzora said he was not aware of it “because I don’t speak for the Tsvangirais. I fully respect them and their privacy.”
Mwonzora said it was premature to discuss Tsvangirai’s succession.
He said: “I now that there is no vacancy for president in my party because Tsvangirai is still there. I am an optimist and believe he will be well so my dream is to serve in his government. I am not even thinking about becoming president when he leaves because I think he is still around,” he said.
Collins confirmed that indeed they had come up with that decision without Tsvangirai’s knowledge.
“We agreed as a family that Mudzuri is the family spokesperson in this matter. (Morgan) Tsvangirai is just one member of the family; he is not the family so we can make decisions without one member and what we decide as family is binding,” Collins said.
“Tamborinyoka remains his individual spokesperson and we came up with that decision after we saw statements coming out that we did not understand so Mudzuri speaks on behalf of the family,” he added.
MDC’s national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe also told the Daily News that he was not happy with Tamborinyoka.
“He issued a controversial statement that cannot be verified because Tsvangirai is not there to clarify,” Bhebhe who is aligned to the Khupe faction said.
“We would have loved a situation whereby Tsvangirai calls a press conference to clarify the statement attributed to him but because of the circumstances, that is not possible but we all know that any sick person does not think straight hence we suspect that the statement did not originate from him,” he added.
MDC insiders claimed yesterday that Tsvangirai was not happy with his lieutenants’ treatment of Tamborinyoka who is believed to be very close to him.
Tamborinyoka’s mobile number was not reachable for him to clarify the origins of the statement.
MDC insiders, however, alleged that Collins Tsvangirai acted unilaterally when he issued the family statement.
“The statement was not even written by the family. It was only Collins who was taken advantage of by people who are worried that the baton is about to be handed to Chamisa so you will realise that the likes of Manase (Tsvangirai’s other brother) were not part of that,” the source said.
“We know their plan is to muzzle Tamborinyoka so that he does not say what Tsvangirai wants in its entirety because they know he doesn’t believe in their abilities so they are out of the race.
“They hope that by getting rid of Tamborinyoka, they will have silenced MT but the die is cast, the decision has been made and there is no going back”. Daily News
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