MASVINGO — MDC-T president and former prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday pulled a bumper crowd of over 15 000 in Masvingo.
By Tatenda Chitagu
Mucheke Stadium was full to the rafters as thousands of MDC-T supporters converged to celebrate the party’s 15th anniversary.
The celebrations came a few months after the party was rocked by a new split led by Tsvangirai’s former secretary-general Tendai Biti who has now formed the MDC Renewal Team.
But the split did not deter the MDC-T supporters from painting Masvingo red since Friday as thousands in their party regalia and holding posters walked or drove through the streets.
Throughout the day, there was joyful singing and dancing at Mucheke Stadium as supporters, who had travelled from different parts of Masvingo province and beyond, patiently waited to be addressed by the MDC-T president.
Tsvangirai, who was in apparent fighting mood, was accompanied by his top officials including vice-president Thokozani Khupe, party chairman, Lovemore Moyo and organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa.
He called on his supporters to take President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF head-on by embarking on crippling nationwide mass street protests to demand an end to the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
He said Zimbabweans had to break from the cocoon of fear enveloping them and confront the situation or risk suffering forever at the hands of Mugabe and his party.
The country is facing an economic crisis characterised by a crumbling industry, liquidity crunch, unemployment and widespread poverty among other woes.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans had suffered for too long at the hands of Mugabe and could no longer afford to remain docile.
“The time has come to say ‘we cannot continue to be docile in this abyss. We are too docile as Zimbabweans, yet everyone has a right to public expression of disgruntlement, not to keep on complaining in your house without doing anything about it,” he said.
“The constitution allows demos, yet the police arrest people. But if they will take us to jail, we will fill up those jails. I am waiting for a day when workers, the youths, vendors, business, in fact, everyone, get into the streets and protest. That will be the day when Zimbabweans wake up from their slumber.”
He said the road towards his party attaining 15 years had been very bumpy, having lost several elections at the hands of Mugabe in polls which he said were rigged.
“It has not been an easy road. We lost some colleagues along the way at the hands of the same dictatorship which we are fighting. The MDC is a mixture of joy and tears today. We refused to run and decided to fight,” the former premier said.
Turning to the state of the party, Tsvangirai blasted the MDC Renewal grouping for being over ambitious and impatient.
“Pane vamwe vanovhima vane munyu muhomwe. Vamwe voti zvandinonokera [there are those that go hunting with salt in their pockets and others that say the struggle is taking too long],” he said.
“Such people will never survive in the MDC when they have unbridled ambition and are interested in looking for positions.”
Tsvangirai said the MDC was celebrating its 15 years when the country was going through debilitating economic hardships. But he re-affirmed the party’s commitment to unseat Mugabe and Zanu PF.
“We are celebrating 15 years on a sad note because the country is on the edge. The country is not like what it was when we formed the MDC.
“The situation has continued to deteriorate, but we remain determined to achieve the objective of freeing this country,” he said.