HARARE – The MDC has reacted angrily to threats by a State media columnist who said yesterday that popular opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was only being saved from harm by the “grace” of President Robert Mugabe.
Speaking to the Daily News after reading the controversial column, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka described Zanu PF as an “evil” party — adding that yesterday’s threat should be viewed as part of the ruling party’s ongoing “dastardly” plots against the former prime minister in the government of national unity.
This comes as Tsvangirai is on the cusp of wrapping up an electoral pact with smaller opposition parties, which analysts say could finally see both Mugabe and Zanu PF defeated in the eagerly-awaited 2018 polls.
Tamborinyoka said the MDC viewed the threats against Tsvangirai very seriously, especially considering the “many previous attempts” on the life of the former labour union leader by Zanu PF.
Reacting to Tsvangirai’s comments which were carried by the Daily News in its Friday edition, a shadowy columnist in the Sunday Mail — who writes under the inappropriate pseudonym of Bishop Lazarus — made ominous threats against the MDC leader.
“A few days ago, Morgan said something to the effect that; ‘You will be safe under me.’ Morgan was trying to give assurance to President Mugabe and security chiefs that they would be safe under his rule. Unonyatsoona kuti munhu haasi kunzwa zvakanaka (One can see that he is not well).
“Instead of hallucinating, Morgan should know that the real question is: ‘Is Morgan safe going into the future?’ True, there are some people who really love Morgan, but there are many who are really angry with the man. They whisper in the dark saying; ‘This man brought us all these troubles and if it wasn’t for President Mugabe…
“What is unfortunate for Morgan is that those who love him are so insignificant in the scheme of political things yet those who are angry with him have the capacity to do anything they want with him. I mean anything. So the question going into the future is; ‘Is Morgan going to be safe?
“The answer may be found in history. Just check what happened to that sell-out Morris Nyathi after the attainment of independence,” the vituperative Bishop Lazarus wrote.
Tamborinyoka told the Daily News yesterday that they were aware that Zanu PF always wanted Tsvangirai dead.
“But he will only die when he achieves God’s purpose, even though we are aware that Zanu PF wants Tsvangirai dead.
“Tsvangirai’s life has always been under threat from Zanu PF. There have been many assassination plots. He was also brutally attacked in a police station and lost his wife (in suspicious circumstances) but his source of protection is God.
“The whim of human wishes will always falter on the anvil of God’s grace. Whatever attempts on Tsvangirai they scheme will always fail as long as God is willing to protect him,” Tamborinyoka thundered.
Speaking in Harare on Thursday, after holding a crucial meeting with the MDC national executive, Tsvangirai said Mugabe and top securocrats had nothing to fear as he would give them immunity from prosecution when he forms the country’s next government.
“I have a message to those who have in the past resisted change and who remain keen to subvert the people’s will because of their uncertainty due to the prospect of political change in the country.
“I wish to assure everyone that there is nothing to fear in the change that we seek. We have no intention to engage in retribution, and we are only driven by the genuine patriotic spirit to ensure peace, stability and growth.
“Change will be good for everyone. Change will allow everyone to pursue and live their dreams under the protection of the State,” Tsvangirai said.
“In 2008, a large part of our fellow citizens in State institutions were reticent and suspicious about the prospects of change.
“The people won the election but there was no transfer of power because of the sceptics of change, those whose reticence about a new Zimbabwe cost this country the opportunity to set a new political direction.
“There will be neither vengeance nor retribution against anyone. There is certainly nothing to fear. In fact, there will be a pension for those who are afraid,” the dogged former trade union leader added.
This statement clearly did not go down well with the likes of Bishop Lazarus, whose sick threats yesterday triggered anxiety among Tsvangirai’s followers.
Tamborinyoka said it would be naïve to brush aside the threats, as Zimbabwe’s history was littered with heinous acts and human rights violations which occurred after Zanu PF had issued threats of a similar nature.
Tsvangirai, the only politician to defeat Mugabe hands down in an election, in 2008, has previously survived a number of State-sponsored acts of terror against him — including barbaric attacks that were meted on him and other senior opposition officials in the Harare high density suburb of Highfield in 2007, during a prayer march there.
On that fateful day, Tsvangirai was so maliciously battered by heavily armed police officers that they left him with a fractured skull.
A prominent MDC supporter, Gift Tandare, was shot dead in cold blood by police, while several senior party officials at the time — including Tendai Biti, Sekai Holland and Grace Kwinjeh — were also savaged brutally by the authorities.
The Highfield fiasco eventually led to the intervention by Sadc, whose mediation later led to the formation of the inclusive government after the hotly-disputed 2008 polls which the MDC still won.
After Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in that year’s presidential election, the results were withheld by panicking authorities for a suspiciously long six weeks, amid widespread allegations of ballot fiddling and manipulation.
When the discredited results of that poll were eventually announced, Tsvangirai was forced into a run-off which he pulled out of following massive intimidation and violence which saw hundreds of his supporters being murdered in cold blood.
Mugabe would go on to stand in an embarrassing and widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.
However, Sadc and the rest of the international community would not accept the poll, forcing the nonagenarian to share power with Tsvangirai for five years to prevent the country from imploding completely.
Former State Security minister and one of the founders of the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party, Didymus Mutasa — who was for decades a close confidante of Mugabe — later lifted the lid on that election’s rot, following his sacking from Zanu PF, revealing that the nonagenarian remained in power through chicanery and brute force.
A few months after becoming the country’s prime minister in the uneasy coalition government in March 2009, Tsvangirai lost his wife Susan in a road accident which his supporters say was yet another attempt on his life, although he ruled out foul play at the time.
Previously, Tsvangirai had survived the gallows by a whisker after the State had preferred false charges of treason against him, after the government claimed it had evidence that he wanted to assassinate Mugabe.
The case collapsed in 2004 after a year-long trial in which it was relying on questionable evidence from a grainy videotape that was secretly recorded by Ari Ben Menashe, a discredited Canadian-based political consultant. – Daily News