BY XOLISANI NCUBE
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of betraying the late Morgan Tsvangirai by allegedly backtracking on concessions he made to secure the opposition leader’s backing in the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe.
Chamisa told hundreds of people that attended Tsvangirai’s memorial service at Hamunikwa village in Buhera that Mnangagwa had promised the former prime minister “certain democratic reforms”, but the Zanu PF leader was now backtracking.
Mugabe was ousted in a coup in November 2017, which was supported by the opposition and civil society.
“Tsvangirai told me that ‘Chamisa, we are now going to help remove the poverty caused by Mugabe, but the assurance I have is that we are going to have a transitional authority’,” Chamisa said.
“I said to him, this was a good thing, but asked him if he was sure about the people he was dealing with and he said ‘let us give them time’.
“We gave them time and they betrayed my old man.”
The MDC, led by Tsvangirai at the time, was also instrumental in the process to impeach Mugabe, which forced him to eventually resign after army generals struggled to convince the 95-year-old leader to step down.
Chamisa said Mnangagwa’s decision to go it alone after he was ushered into power resulted in the political crisis facing the country.
“The fact is that Tsvangirai was betrayed on the agenda to make sure this country (has democratic reforms),” he said.
“Had we agreed on a transition mechanism, it would have led us to undisputed elections.
“This is the problem we have in this country, hence I am saying to Mnangagwa, today, we don’t want to remove you violently, but we stated our agenda to go forward.
“There has to be a political dialogue. Dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC.
“If we don’t do that, all what is taking place with other parties is a waste of time.
“Dialogue is the only answer and we said if Mnangagwa continues to refuse dialogue, we are going to show you the law and show to you who has power.
“We have the people, no one voted for Mnangagwa, he was just installed, and you know that. He was installed by the Constitutional Court, not you.”
Tsvangirai died three months after Mugabe’s ouster and was given as state-assisted funeral.
Chamisa immediately took over the leadership of the party, but lost the July 2018 elections to Mnangagwa.
However, the former ICT minister refused to accept the results even after the court ruled against him after he alleged that the elections were marred by massive rigging.
Chamisa yesterday vowed that Mnangagwa would eventually succumb to pressure to have talks with the opposition.
“On this issue, we are not mistaken,” he said. “Even if it means being tough, no matter what happens, when we are done, the country has to move forward and we must have a legitimate government.
“As soon we are done with our congress, I will go regional and ask them to come and help us solve this issue.
“The direction we are taking is to move this country forward.
“Let us have dialogue and if you don’t want dialogue, we are going to drag you to the table, kicking and screaming.”
The memorial service was attended by several MDC leaders and trade unionists who worked with Tsvangirai, among them Wellington Chibebe, who succeeded the former premier as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions where he was secretary-general.
Chibebe is now the International Labour Organisation director responsible for Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Zanu PF and government were not represented at the memorial, but the State provided food and other logistical support.