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MDC-T battle rages on behind the scenes

by Owen Gagare
28 Mar 2014 at 08:07hrs | Views
THE raging battle for the heart and soul of MDC-T continues behind the scenes despite an announcement by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai this week that the warring parties had found each other after frank talks aimed at solving the crisis threatening to cause yet another split.

Officials in the party say tensions in the party remain high, while the camps that existed prior to Tsvangirai's announcement on Tuesday still remain actively plotting their next moves.

In what passed off as a show of unity, Tsvangirai made the reconciliation announcement in the presence of MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti, who has been snubbing Tsvangirai's press conferences and rallies giving credence to reports the feuding officials were working towards unity, although curiously Biti did not speak at the conference.

Party officials pushing for leadership change and renewal told the Zimbabwe Independent the battle lines in the party were still drawn and there were no prospects of a truce.

They maintained Biti and Elias Mudzuri were coerced into attending the press conference after attending a national executive meeting to discuss proposals by acting treasurer general Tapuwa Mashakada for party members to fund the party.

"The issue of unity was not on the agenda and when one official proposed that we unify the party first instead of asking people to contribute while the party was divided, Tsvangirai quashed the debate. Towards the end of the meeting he said he had a press conference and asked those present to accompany him, hence the presence of Biti and Mudzuri," said an official.

"There was however no agreement and that is the reason why neither Biti nor Mudzuri spoke. When Tsvangirai paraded Job Sikhala and Joubert Mudzumwe, he addressed the media and afterwards Sikhala and Mudzumwe did the same. That showed there was an agreement, but in this case he addressed the media alone.

"There is absolutely no unity of purpose and that is the reason why the sixth floor of Harvest House where the secretary general of the party works is locked. The people who work in the SG's office, including the party's director, are not being allowed to go to work."

MDC-T officials also say Tsvangirai's faction is continuing to purge those perceived to be supporting calls for leadership change in the party. They say calls for unity were hollow as long as the officials who were purged had not been allowed back unconditionally.

Problems in the MDC-T, which have been simmering for a long time, came into the public domain after the party controversially lost last year's general elections. The loss resulted in demands for leadership renewal and the calls gradually grew louder until the party's deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma wrote a letter to Tsvangirai asking him to quit arguing he had failed to provide effective leadership.

Mangoma was subsequently suspended after writing a second letter in which he repeated his calls, but he insists the decision was unlawful. His lawyer Jacob Mafume said Mangoma would contest his suspension in court as it was unprocedurally done. He also said the warring parties in the MDC had not reached a consensus, contrary to Tsvangirai's assertions.

"We don't know which hatchet he (Tsvangirai) has buried because the issues of concern still remain. We hoped they would deal with the issue of the illegal suspension but they have not. We were hoping they would deal with issues to do with violence but they have not, so what hatchet has been buried?" asked Mafume.

"The provincial executives remain suspended, so there is no unity to talk about."

Mangoma was quoted in a local daily yesterday, insisting on leadership renewal. He said Tsvangirai does not have the capacity to lead the MDC-T and the country and should therefore step down.
MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora however said the presence of all leaders was an indication that the party was in agreement. He however said the unity call would not mean that suspended officials would be allowed to claim back their positions without being cleared of wrongdoing.

"Each organisation has its own rules which must be adhered to. Even at Dynamos, if a player fails to attend training he can be censured one way or another. This applies to everyone including Mangoma," he said.

"If Mangoma is clean he will be cleared by an independent disciplinary tribunal made up of three senior lawyers outside the party to ensure fairness and impartiality. Those saying there can be no unity unless suspended officials are reinstated are lawless people who don't respect the rules of the party."

A senior party official said problems bedeviling the party would not be easy to resolve because they were structural and had to do with issues such as the dearth of internal democracy and abandoning of the the party's founding values.

"Reconciliation can only take place if Tsvangirai realises he is not the alpha and the omega of the party.

"It is clear to us that he hates the renewal team particularly Mangoma, and can't imagine working with them again. He may want to keep us in but his intention is to destroy from close range," said the official.

Source - theindependent