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Britain’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Catrion Laing is reportedly backing former MDC-T national organising secretary and Kuwadzana East legislator Mr Nelson Chamisa to take over the party’s leadership from Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Sunday Mail understands that the British envoy recently divulged this to World Bank staff at a function to officially open the Breton-Woods institution offices in Mount Pleasant, Harare.
A reliable source who attended the event said Mrs Laing said Mr Chamisa “represents the future” of opposition politics in Zimbabwe.
Mrs Laing is reported to have added that Mr Tsvangirai had reached his sell-by date.
“She spoke highly about Chamisa, saying the youthful legislator represents the future and she doesn’t have respect for Tsvangirai because he has failed to dislodge President Mugabe,” said the source.
A Harare British Embassy spokesperson tried to downplay the matter by introducing the “non-interference” card.
“The allegations raised are not true. The United Kingdom has no position with regards to the leadership of political parties in Zimbabwe. This is a matter for the people of Zimbabwe.
“The UK will continue to engage with leaders and members of all political parties as is normal diplomatic practice around the world.”
A fortnight ago, Western embassies that have traditionally backed MDC-T snubbed Mr Tsvangirai’s signing of what was supposed to be an “electoral reforms agenda” by major oppositional groups.
But his pact only attracted fringe groups that have never demonstrated any electoral clout. Of all the Western embassies that had been invited to the signing ceremony, only Australia’s chief envoy, Ms Suzanne McCourt showed up. Ms McCourt told The Sunday Mail that she was “just observing”.
“I would rather not give you a comment about this. I am just observing,” she said.
The British Embassy spokesperson said, “The UK was represented at non-Ambassadorial level at the National Electoral Reform Agenda event in Harare. We continue to meet representatives of all main parties, both government and opposition on a regular basis.”
MDC-T spokesperson, Mr Obert Gutu told The Sunday Mail that invitations were extended to various embassies and partners.
However, he downplayed the absence of most diplomats, saying it was “very difficult for everyone to turn up”.
“Look, the function was held on a Wednesday during working hours, and most people are winding up their business considering that this is the end of the year. Otherwise, we are happy with the turn out.”
Mr Tsvangirai has never won elected office in his 15 years as head of an ever-fracturing opposition party.
Since its formation in late 1999, at least four groups have broken away from Mr Tsvangirai, usually citing his dictatorial tendencies.
Professor Lovemore Madhuku, Mr Tsvangirai’s former close ally is on record saying that just before MDC-T’s crushing loss in the 2013, Western embassies had approached him to help them find Tsvangirai’s replacement.
“Throughout Western embassies, there is a mentality that MDC-T must be led by an academic. They have confided in and consulted me on the best candidate to lead the party (MDC-T),” Prof Madhuku said then.
Tellingly, Prof Madhuku withdrew his support for Mr Tsvangirai and formed his own party.
Prof Welshman Ncube, Mr Tendai Biti and Mr Elton Mangoma all left to do their own things. Mr Tsvangirai’s party has been boycotting elections since its crushing defeat on July 31, 2013.
Now, Mr Chamisa is again dividing the already embattled opposition with an increasingly influential faction that is bent on usurping Mr Tsvangirai.
Indications are that Mr Tsvangirai, after initially seeking to expel Mr Chamisa, now wants an indaba with his latest internal foe. Mr Chamisa is understood to be reluctant to prop up Mr Tsvangirai so early in the game and would rather gauge the extent of his support first before making any move. Source: sundaymail