MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday came face-to-face with the party’s organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa, for the first time since the Mutare fiasco at which it is reported that tempers flared, leading to an altercation between the two.
Impeccable sources within the party, hit to the core by a second damaging split inside 10 years, told The Zimbabwe Mail that Chamisa confronted the party leader and inquired of the media reports alluding a misunderstanding between the two at the party’s national executive meeting held over the weekend.
“Chamisa asked the president what it is he had done wrong and if it was true that he (Tsvangirai) had been telling people that there was a near fist-fight between them in Mutare. Tsvangirai responded that there had never been a verbal altercation or finger-pointing but told Chamisa to his face that he had belittled him after refusing to be introduced during the nomination process,” said an insider.
“Chamisa remained stone-faced and the matter died a natural death.”
Luke Tamborinyoka, the MDC-T’s director of information and Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, tried to wriggle out of the issue when asked yesterday.
“The president has since dismissed those reports as rumours, he has said there was never an altercation. This is congress time and some people would like to invoke Tsvangirai’s name either to promote or demote certain interests but there is no rift between the two,” said Tamborinyoka without elaborating which platform Tsvangirai had used to express his feelings over the matter.
In a related matter, Tsvangirai yesterday moved quickly to pacify disgruntled ‘prodigal son’ Job Sikhala, whose bid to gate-crush into the top echelons of the party suffered a still birth at the weekend.
High level sources confirmed Tsvangirai had called Sikhala, moments after his MDC-T national executive resolved to confine Sikhala to the lower reaches of the party, “at least up to the national executive and not the standing committee”.
“Tsvangirai called Sikhala and assured him he would do all he can to get him to contest the position he has been nominated for (deputy organising secretary),” The Zimbabwe Mail heard yesterday.
Tamborinyoka could neither deny nor confirm whether the ex-prime minister had, indeed, met Sikhala.
“What I can tell you is that Sikhala is a member of the party and the president of the party is free to meet any member of the party at any time he wants,” said Tamborinyoka.
Returnee Sikhala all day yesterday skirted commenting on the matter.
“I am in a meeting and would be available to talk to you in 30 minutes,” was Sikhala’s answer from mid-morning to early evening.
After the national executive resolution, Sikhala vowed: “I am not going anywhere.”
“If they thought I would go anywhere they have another thing coming. I will appeal to the national council and if that does not work I will appeal to congress directly. That would humiliate a few people, they should have done everything in their power to make sure I lose at congress or better still, they should have found ways of barring me from being nominated,” said a defiant Sikhala.
A founding member of the party, Sikhala left Tsvangirai’s faction following the party’s first split in October 2005, had problems with another faction leader Welshman Ncube who led the break-away and went on to front an obscure mini-political party that went by the name MDC99, before his damascene moment in April this year.
Sikhala’s return, reportedly at Tsvangirai’s pleading, was meant to show up the veteran opposition strongman’s fortunes hit hard by another debilitating split, this time fronted by another secretary-general, Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, in the aftermath of the July 2013 poll loss to Zanu PF.