Opposition leader of the MDC-T faction once again torched a storm when he joined other political leaders as President Mnangagwa officially launched the Phase 2 National Vaccination Programme in the resort City of Victoria Falls.
President Mnangagwa also received his first COVID-19 injection at the event.
The event was also attended by members of the Political Actors Dialogue which continues to be snubbed by the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance which does not recognize President Mnangagwa.
Mwonzora last week also caused a furore when he reportedly directed his party members to respect the ruling government while banning any chants denigrated the country’s leadrship.
MDC-T officials had earlier on took to the micro-blogging Twitter saying Mwonzora had been invited to the launch by Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
However, social media was set ablaze when Mwonzora took to the podium shortly after the main speech by President Mnangagwa to give a vote of thanks at the ceremony.
In a Twitter post, the MDC-T said: “The National Vaccination Campaign is in line with President Mwonzora’s repeated calls for #Covid19 awareness and vaccination of all citizens of Zimbabwe. Yesterday, President Mwonzora made another appeal in his weekly Tuesday Address.”
However, Jacob Lawrence Sedze accused the ruling Zanu-PF and government of trying to isolate MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
“Efforts by ZANU to isolate Chamisa will never work. You should try other means, pple really know who their president is & they’re happy that he is not in attendance in Vic falls program. Never think that you have won!”
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and passionate government and Zanu-PF critic pourd scorn on Mwonzora calling him a sell-out.
He posted on Twitter: “In Zimbabwe if opposition politicians attend official state functions promoting a great cause like Covid-19 vaccine they are labelled zanu pf puppies. The same happens across the Limpopo, Malema supporting ruling president its called great leadership. Am just a confused voter.”
Analyst Rashweat Mukundu, however, said while it was Mwonzora’s choice on who he would want to associate with, the behaviour would bring questions on his legitimacy as an opposition political leader.
“The challenge is, does he have the mandate of his political base, the MDC-T supporters, to be supporting and participating in government programmes. Secondly, where do we make a distinction between his policies as an opposition leader against those of the government?
“If his policies are in confluence with those of the government then that diminishes him as an opposition leader. He, in fact becomes a stooge of the ruling party because opposition leaders are known for alternative policies.
“More importantly, for standing out and criticising the existing policies of the government in power and if Mwonzora is completely in agreement with Zanu-PF in almost everything that makes him less of an opposition leader but rather an appendage of the ruling party.”
Mukundu further noted that Mwonzora also faced a crisis that when he gets back to the electorate, people would question why they would vote for him.
“The electorate would rather vote for Zanu-PF, which in this instance, they will decide to support. So it’s a crisis of making a distinction between the unique policies of his political party and being seemingly a part of the ruling elite and party.
“Of course, issues of mandate and legitimacy on his actions, that is, is he acting on the part of MDC-T, no matter what the numbers are, did they give him the mandate to behave as he is doing.”
In his speech, Mwonzora, a Senator for Nyanga, called for the de-politicisation of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination programme.
“It has devastated Zimbabwe. We have lost our loved ones. Each one of us here has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic is both a national and international emergency and, therefore, it has to be completely de-politicized,” he said.
Mwonzora also called for different political approaches in Zimbabwe.
“We have adopted a new philosophy, a new way of doing our politics. First of all, we must be guided by what is in the best interest of Zimbabwe, what is in the best interest of the Zimbabwean masses,” he said.
“It must be the Zimbabweans first and our political aggrandisement second. We urge a new politics in this country. Gone are the days of politics of rancour, acrimony, violence, hate and intolerance.”
He called on political players to resort to politics of rational disputation and tolerance.