The state-controlled Herald newspaper has gushed generous praises on the recently elected MDC-T leader, Douglas Mwonzora, for repeating calls for unity in the fight against COVID-19 that his rival, MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa had made several days earlier.
But ironically, the Herald described Mwonzora’s belated call as signalling ‘a new era of collaborative and constructive opposition politics’.
At the weekend, Chamisa had called on Zimbabweans to get all hands on deck in the fight against Covid-19 as overcoming the pandemic required a national effort.
“Life is precious. The virus must fall. We salute our doctors and nurses, the brave soldiers who fight day and night to save lives. Focused leadership, strategy, and prayer will see us through. It’s a national fight, together we will win. Always for a better Zimbabwe,” he tweeted on Saturday.
Mwonzora, whom the Herald described as leader of ‘the country’s biggest opposition party’, urged Zimbabweans to come together in the fight against the global pandemic that has wreaked livelihoods and claimed lives on an unprecedented scale.
“We plead with the international community and all stakeholders to assist the Government to make sure that protective clothing is available to all our frontline workers, that protection, in the form of masks as well as sanitisers is made available to poor communities free of charge”.
“This pandemic knows no political affiliation, the fight against Covid-19 should never be politicised, we are all one in the fight against this pandemic. This is time for us as a people to come together and defeat this disease, obviously, this is not the time to score cheap political scores,” said Mwonzora.
Mwonzora’s MDC-T party owes its reconstitution to a ruling of the Supreme Court, which the party used to recall MPs elected on an MDC Alliance ticket in the 2018 general election and replacing them with MDC-T appointees while others switched allegiances from Chamisa’s MDC Alliance to avoid recall. The ban on by-elections imposed by the government citing risk to public health due to the COVID-19 pandemic has sustained the MDC-T’s controversial Parliamentary presence.
The reconstitution of the MDC-T via the Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent recalls of MDC Alliance MPs and councillors is widely seen as having been engineered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF government as a way of decimating the electoral threat posed by Chamisa and his party.
The Herald’s gushing praises come at a time when there has emerged an unusual warmth between Mwonzora and Mnangagwa, with the latter congratulating Mwonzora on is election as MDC-T president last month and expressing his willingness to work with the opposition party.
“We took particular note of his declared wish to guide and reshape the politics of opposition towards constructive engagement with the government of the day,” Mnangagwa said at the time.
“This is a very welcome move for our nation which is likely to put politics of rancour behind us thus triggering collaboration, development and the harmony we solely needed for national progress.
“Both as the ruling Zanu PF party, and as the government, we assure Senator Mwonzora and the MDC-T leadership of collaboration towards the growth of prosperity of our nation,” he added.