OPPOSITION MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai finally met with his deputy Thokozani Khupe, party chairman Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe early this week and buried their differences following their acrimonious fallout two months ago over whether or not they should be part of the MDC Alliance.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA/NQOBANI NDLOVU/
Both MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and Khupe’s personal assistant Witness Dube confirmed the development yesterday, saying the meeting took place at Tsvangirai’s Highlands home in Harare.
They said the MDC-T leaders agreed to lift Bhebhe and deputy treasurer-general Charlton Hwende’s suspensions as a precondition to opening negotiations into the cause of their fallout in August this year.
Khupe and her team had stopped attending MDC-T meetings in the capital citing security concerns following their assault by suspected Tsvangirai “hooligans” at the party’s Bulawayo provincial offices on accusations of frustrating the formation of the MDC Alliance.
The intra-party violence, which occurred in August, resulted in the suspension of Bhebhe, Hwende and several other top party officials, amid fears the party was headed for a split.
“The president, in his wisdom and in the desire to make people focus on the important business of voter registration and preparing for the 2018 elections, has lifted the suspension of Bhebhe and Hwende, and with immediate effect,” Mwonzora said yesterday.
“The president held a meeting with Khupe where they agreed to resolve whatever outstanding issues there were and that they should now work towards the project. So, as we stand, everything has gone back to normal.”
Dube, in a statement, however, insisted that Tsvangirai’s deputy still had reservations over the party’s involvement in the MDC Alliance.
“Khupe’s visit and working meeting at president Tsvangirai’s residence yesterday (Monday) was not and must
not be read as a wholesale withdrawal of all the substantive issues that were raised in the much-publicised letter that was written to and is filed in MDC-T president Tsvangirai’s office, save for the condition on the place of the meeting that had been placed,” Dube said.
He said the only matter that was finalised was the incident of violence which occurred in Bulawayo where an “amnesty” was reached resulting in the lifting of suspensions of both Bhebhe and Hwende.
“This amnesty was done outside the founding context of the violence which, therefore, leaves the other substantive issues that they raised in the letter to president Tsvangirai very much in the middle of the table. The extent of engagement on the same in yesterday’s meeting is a matter that will be unravelled in the official party activities and constitutional meetings which deputy president Dr Khupe will be leading in the interim that president Tsvangirai is winding up his medical leave,” he said.
Dube added: “Therefore, the climbdown to going to the MDC-T party’s 2018 presidential candidate’s residence and all party offices including Harvest House by Khupe, Moyo and Bhebhe, must not only be read as their accommodation of president Tsvangirai’s medical leave conditions, which we all pray will be over soon, but as a hint of their magnanimity and altruism in putting national interests before themselves. Added to that, the security situation around the three standing committee members has been closely monitored since the Bulawayo provincial office violence. Currently, nothing suggests that there may be any new incidents of violence that will bring the name of the party into disrepute, which in essence was their primary concern about presenting themselves at MDC-T establishments in Harare.”
Khupe’s aide also added: “The lengthy and fruitful meeting was both a courtesy visit to the president following his stay in South Africa on medical leave as well as a routine working meeting between the president and his deputy of 11 years in the party. It emerged and was agreed to that the suspensions had neither been sufficiently constructed nor formally communicated to the affected parties to warrant sustenance. In any case, the leadership mutually struck a reconciliatory tone of letting bygones be bygones regarding the incident of violence that happened at the Bulawayo provincial office.”
But highly-placed MDC-T sources maintained that the two leaders had narrowed down their differences over the MDC Alliance project.
“They met at Tsvangirai’s residence resulting in the cancellation of the standing committee meeting which the president was supposed to chair. Most of the issues were discussed and ironed out because they bordered on personalities in the MDC Alliance and not the principle,” a source said.
This came as the Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party is divided over joining the MDC Alliance.
Biti recently endorsed the Tsvangirai-led MDC Alliance, resulting in a fierce clash with party secretary-general Gorden Moyo, who accused him of railroading the party into the coalition without the consent of other executives.
The two have since parted ways with each claiming leadership of the fractured party.
Meanwhile, the MDC Alliance leadership will tomorrow meet after a long lull to plan its programme of action and activities in the aftermath of Tsvangirai’s hospitalisation in South Africa.
Alliance spokesman Jacob Ngarivhume confirmed the meeting.
“We are going to have a meeting this Thursday (tomorrow) and the appropriate details of the issues discussed will be advised to the nation after the meeting,” Ngarivhume said.