EMBATTLED MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was embarrassed in Gweru yesterday when vendors heckled him during his tour of vending stalls in the city. The former Prime Minister’s aides struggled to keep away the hecklers, some of whom were shouting, “Go and tell Britain to remove the illegal sanctions you advocated for.” Mr Tsvangirai was accompanied by Gweru Mayor, Councillor Hamutendi Kombayi. Vendors said Mr Tsvangirai was wasting ratepayers’ money by touring the city. They said their lives were not going to change for the better just because he had visited them.
“Your visit will not change our lives or the way we operate. You are wasting our money that we pay through rates and water bills,” shouted one vendor. More drama was to follow at TM Supermarket when a resident was assaulted and pushed away by Mr Tsvangirai’s aides as the man tried to find his way towards the MDC-T leader. The man wanted to throw some fliers denouncing the MDC-T leader’s visit. The fliers which originated from the Gweru Vendors Association castigated Mr Tsvangirai’s visit which they said was a waste of council resources. “Why should the coming of Mr Tsvangirai be a burden to rate payers? Why pay Mr Tsvangirai’s accommodation and dinner at Antelope Park Lodges yet workers have gone for three months without pay? We say no to abuse and mismanagement of council funds. We say no to abuse of council vehicles for MDC-T activities,” read some of the fliers.
Residents were angered by the fact that Mr Tsvangirai and his entourage were chauffeured in the mayoral vehicle, the latest model Mazda BT-50 Twin cab. Other council vehicles were used to ferry MDC-T party members and councillors. However, council management and Zanu-PF councillors did not participate in the tour of the city. Clr Kombayi was accused of taking the MDC-T leader to projects which were initiated by the previous council led by former mayor, Mr Tedious Chimombe. Mr Tsvangirai toured Kudzanai Bus Terminus where he was shown mounds of uncollected rubbish since the MDC-T dominated council has been failing to collect refuse and repair roads.
The MDC-T leader also visited Mtapa, Ascot, Mkoba Villages 6, 15 and 16 suburbs where he was shown vending marts and some stalls as well as houses under construction. The Kombayi led Council is still to initiate its own projects two years after it came into office. Meanwhile, Mr Tsvangirai yesterday made a major climb down on plans to engage in mass action ostensibly to effect illegal regime change. He said there was need for an “assessment” of the situation before such action could be taken. The embattled leader who has in the past made botched “final push” attempts, seems to have developed cold feet as he has lost grassroots support following a major split in his party that saw a group led by former secretary-general, Mr Tendai Biti, forming a new party, United MDC. “Mass action is always on the agenda but it is the timing of that action that matters. It is not just an emotional reaction but you also have to consider the outcome of that action. What’s going to happen if everyone goes on the streets? What do you want to achieve? “Those are things we are assessing. Also, when such action is taken by leaders without their followers understanding what they are doing it is likely to misfire. We want an orderly Zimbabwe and we want stability in the country,” he said while addressing journalists soon after the tour.