By Thabiso Mdhluli
LEADERS of rival opposition MDC-T and MDC-A camps, Thokozani Khupe and Nelson Chamisa respectively, yesterday met in Luveve, Bulawayo at the burial of the late Esaph Mdlongwa who died from Covid-19.
Mdlongwa, father to South Africa based legendary music producer Oscar “Oskido” Mdlongwa, died last Wednesday evening at Mater Dei Hospital was yesterday laid to rest at Luveve Cemetery in Bulawayo.
He was 78 and previously served as MP for Luveve under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai.
The burial was restricted to close family members. However, Mdlongwa, a quiet and reserved political operator who had taken a back seat from active politics at the time of his death, managed to bring the two splinter MDC parties presidents Thokozani Khupe and Nelson Chamisa to within shouting distance of each other after a long time.
The two completely avoided each other at the burial, probably due to social distancing requirements as Mdlongwa was buried in accordance with the WHO guidelines on Covid-19.
For his part, Chamisa mentioned on Twitter that he was in Bulawayo for the burial, and made no mention of Khupe being there also. Khupe rarely updates about funerals on social media although she regularly attends them.
Khupe has been recalling MPs, Senators and ward Councillors elected under Chamisa’s party since the Supreme Court ruling of March which declared Chamisa’s succession of Tsvangirai illegitimate. The climax of the political drama was last week when Khupe was sworn in as an MP and became the opposition leader in Parliament.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is reportedly putting together a deal for Khupe which includes huge perks and a Government office as well as State-paid security guards and other benefits.
Writing on Twitter yesterday, Chamisa said: “In Bulawayo this weekend. Now in Luveve laying to rest our hero Ubaba uEsaph Mdlongwa. Zimbabwe has lost a principled statesman who consistently fought for democracy and good governance. May his soul rest in peace.”
Mdlongwa was elected as part of the first leadership of the opposition party in 1999- before its initial split in 2005- together with the late Morgan Tsvangirai (president), the late Gibson Sibanda (vice president), and Professor Welshman Ncube (secretary general).
Gift Chimanikire (deputy secretary general), the late Isaac Matongo (chairman), the late Fletcher Dulini Ncube (treasurer general), Mrs Lucia Matibenga (women’s assembly), the late Learnmore Jongwe (spokesman) and Nelson Chamisa (youth assembly) also formed the core of the founding members leadership. – Zimbabwe Voice ■