By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
27 March 2014
MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai and his secretary-general Tendai Biti have agreed to one-on-one talks, to deliberate the toxic issues that nearly split the party.
A highly placed source told SW Radio Africa that contrary to reports that Biti was lately snubbing rallies addressed by Tsvangirai, he in fact avoided them because of concerns for his safety.
The political rivals have publicly closed ranks after the party was shaken by three months of bitter infighting, triggered by a four page letter authored by the suspended deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, calling for Tsvangirai to step down. But privately there are ‘burning issues’ that are still to be resolved.
Like Biti, members of the faction that advocated for leadership renewal have also been snubbing recent party rallies, because of safety concerns. They said they felt their lives were in danger and didn’t want to expose themselves by attending rallies addressed by Tsvangirai.
A source who attended Tuesday’s meeting, where the feuding factions closed ranks, said their safety was of paramount importance if the truce was to hold.
The source said Tsvangirai and Biti’s indaba is likely to deal with all the outstanding issues like hate speech, violence, intimidation and unconstitutional meetings and suspensions.
‘The meeting between the two is set for any day now as Biti is expected to attend his first rally in weeks in Mkoba, Gweru next week Saturday. For Biti and other members of the renewal team to attend these rallies they need Tsvangirai’s assurances that no harm will visit them,’ the source said.
As an indication that Tsvangirai’s relationship with some members of the renewal team is thawing the MDC-T leader spent over three hours on Wednesday playing golf with Elias Mudzuri, the MP for Warren Park in Harare.
Mudzuri sparked the debate on the leadership renewal last year when he suggested ways he thought would serve the beleaguered party.
One of the scenarios he offered was that Tsvangirai steps down and becomes the godfather of the party, the “Nelson Mandela” of the labour-backed party.
Although he did not ask Tsvangirai to step down, Mudzuri seemed to favour putting the issue to an elective congress where people would determine their preferred candidates.
Tsvangirai has made inroads in attracting former foes to rejoin his party, following his call to pro-democratic forces to join hands and fight ZANU PF as a united opposition.
During their Gweru rally next week as many as 30 members, who stood as parliamentary candidates for the MDC-N, will announce their return to the MDC-T.
Douglas Mwonzora, spokesman for the MDC-T, wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday: ‘We are excited that the next few weeks will see over 30 leaders of one of the political parties coming to join hands with us.’
‘Faced with the unity of purpose in the MDC, ZANU PF and the state agents are now busy trying to undermine the party unity in the MDC. We are determined to make sure that the efforts by President Tsvangirai to unite the party bear fruit,’ he said.