MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai will this weekend descend on President Robert Mugabe’s stronghold of Mashonaland East province to meet party structures, churches, business and traditional leaders, as he concludes his nationwide consultative meetings on the proposed coalition of opposition parties.
Tsvangirai is punting the coalition as an indispensable strategy to dislodge the 93 year-old leader in next year’s elections.After Mashonaland East, the former Prime Minister is expected to make a stop in President Mugabe’s home province, Mashonaland West, before concluding his countrywide tours with meetings in Harare and Chitungwiza next month.
Top MDC-T officials said Tsvangirai would spend three days meeting village heads, chiefs and other influential leaders in Mashonaland East,starting this week, as part of his new strategy to penetrate provinces previously regarded as “no-go areas” for opposition politicians.
“The final programme has not been released for security reasons,” said an official.
Since the 2000 elections, Mashonaland East has been the bedrock of political violence mostly targeted at opposition supporters. Zanu PF supporters have made the province a no-go area for the opposition, particularly areas such as Uzumba, Mudzi and Mutoko.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu, confirmed Tsvangirai’s impending visit to Mashonaland East.He said Tsvangirai will be consulting party structures and other interested groups on the current economic decay and coalition, among other issues.
“President Morgan Tsvangirai is continuing with his countrywide consultative programmes, where he will be touching base with local opinion leaders and getting their views regarding all pertinent issues such as the economy and political alliances, among other issues,” he said.
“As you know, he has already covered most parts of the country on a similar mission.”
However, Gutu disputed assertions that Mashonaland East and West provinces were Zanu PF strongholds, saying the MDC-T has enjoyed massive support in the areas since its birth in 1999.
“It’s a myth that Mash East is a Zanu PF stronghold,” he said.“The MDC is the largest and most popular political party in Zimbabwe and we have got thousands of supporters in Mash East and West provinces.
“We are very confident that, just like in all the other provinces that our leader has toured to date, there will be very good attendances in all the three Mashonaland provinces.”
Tsvangirai has covered Matabeleland, Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo, among other provinces, in his consultative meetings which started last month.
He recently announced that he was close to forming a coalition with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First and other opposition parties.