Movement for Democratic Change anti-senate faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai is to address a rally at White City Stadium on Sunday in what most people believe will be a litmus test on how much support he has as this will be his first public rally in the city since the party split in October.
The rally, which will be held in the backyard of his rival faction, the pro-senate faction which is now led by scientist and former student activist Arthur Mutambara, is also likely to define which faction has greater support of the people.
So far the two factions have been involved in court and boardroom battles that have largely left their supporters out except when the two held their separate congresses.
Though the Tsvangirai faction has so far held the upper hand in terms of numbers, the pro-senate faction has rubbished the figures calling the anti-senate congress which attracted a reported 15 000 a rally rather than a congress. The pro-senate faction congress was reportedly attended by 3 000 delegates.
Rallies so far addressed by pro-senate faction leader Arthur Mutambara have attracted very few people. The independent media put the figure of those who attended the Bulawayo rally at 4 000 and that for the Chitungwiza rally at about 1 500.
Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa as well as Bulawayo province secretary Reggie Moyo confirmed that the rally will be held on Sunday and had police clearance.
Chamisa said the rally was aimed at allowing the new leadership to meet the people to sound out what they thought about the way forward especially in view of the present political and economic crisis in the country. It was also meant to brief supporters on the resolutions adopted at the party congress.
Some supporters of the party, however, said some senior members of the party were campaigning against the rally but Chamisa and Moyo dismissed the reports saying they had not received any such reports.
“The only thing I can tell you is that our rally will be a success,” Chamisa said.
Moyo said the rally was not going to be a test of support because there had always been one MDC.
“Our rally is going to succeed. It will not be a contest because there has always been one MDC with one president,” he said.
Some party supporters said, however, they would stay at home because of fears of violence.
Police were reported to have stepped in to quell violence at the Chitungwiza rally of the pro-senate faction.