Wednesday, August 10, 2011
by Staff Reporter
IF ORGANISERS of the Defence Forces Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium on Tuesday wanted Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to feel welcome at the event, then they certainly chose a peculiar way to show it.
The MDC-T leader, accused by his ruling coalition partner President Robert Mugabe of being a “demon-possessed puppet” of the West just a day earlier, looked ill at ease as he sat next to defence forces chief, General Constantine Chiwenga.
For a few minutes the two men sat stone-faced, Chiwenga spotting a face like thunder while Tsvangirai looked away, hand on head.
The combustible atmosphere only eased somewhat when Defence Forces Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who conveniently arrived late, thankfully bridged the gulf by taking his seat between the two.
Adding to the tension would have been Tsvangirai’s accusations, also made on Monday, that the army was “brutalising” villagers in the countryside.
Still, the Prime Minister was favoured with a handshake by national army commander Phillip Sibanda which fell far short of the salute Tsvangirai’s aides believe is his due.
Mugabe, who lashed the MDC-T leader during Heroes Day celebrations which he boycotted on Monday, showed little of the venom as the two men shook hands and spoke briefly.
The MDC-T is pushing for so-called security sector reforms, accusing the service chiefs of human rights abuses and subverting electoral processes to ensure Mugabe and his Zanu PF party remain in power.