Feuding members of the opposition MDC Alliance are using the memorial service of their former leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, as their latest factional frontier to settle scores and secure the endorsement of his family members.
The party is scheduled to hold its first elective congress after Tsvangirai’s death, from 24-26 May.
Tsvangirai succumbed to colon cancer on 14 February last year at a South African hospital. His memorial service is slated for 4 May at his rural home in Buhera.
MDC secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and party vice president Elias Mudzuri are reported to be angling for the position of Nelson Chamisa, the current MDC Alliance leader.
However, the spokesperson for Tsvangirai’s family, Manase Tsvangirai, says the family has put in measures to avoid political hawks from turning the memorial service into a rally.
“We want to avoid what happened at the funeral,” he said. “Morgan was not only associated with the opposition, he had turned into an international figure.
So if we allow people to settle political scores at the memorial service, violence may erupt.
We will avoid all that.”
At the funeral last year, the then co-vice president of the party, Thokozani Khupe, was manhandled and nearly burnt alive in a hut she had sought refuge in, as she attempted to escape from marauding MDC youths who were yelling for her blood.
She was accused of trying to sabotage Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the party.
Khupe later won a court challenge to maintain the name MDC-T. She contested the presidential election last year and came third.
This time, insiders say Chamisa wants to cement his position by claiming that he was Tsvangirai’s preferred choice while the Mwonzora camp says Chamisa is playing petty politics.