9 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Plots Mangoma's Ouster

Photo: Trevor Davies/IPS
MDC-T youths at a rally before the 2013 polls.

RIFTS within the MDC-T are widening amid revelations that the party's 210 district chairpersons have been summoned to Harare for a meeting next Saturday to seal the fate of deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma.

Mangoma stirred the hornet's nest with his letter to MDC-T president, Morgan Tsvangirai asking him to step down.

The letter exposed deep-seated divisions within the party which appears to have split into two camps; one supporting Tsvangirai and baying for Mangoma's blood, and another fighting in Mangoma's corner, arguing the deputy treasurer-general had a democratic right to openly express his views.

But sources said after realising that only eight out of the 46 MDC-T national executive members supported moves to expel Mangoma at a recent meeting, Tsvangirai was now seeking grassroots support to kick out the deputy treasurer.

An executive member said Tsvangirai summoned the district chairpersons for a meeting at his Highlands house; a move he said was unprecedented and unconstitutional.

He said the meeting was being stage-managed to endorse Tsvangirai and enable district chairpersons to pass a vote of no confidence in Mangoma and other leaders calling for leadership renewal in the party.

"The district chairpersons are being coached on what to say and basically that Mangoma should go," said the MDC-T official. "This meeting has no name. It is going to be a rally meant to push someone's agenda."

He said, in terms of the MDC-T constitution, there was no provision for district chairpersons to meet, outside congress, provinces and branches. The official said after the executive committee meeting, Tsvangirai should have called for a national council meeting.

He said Tsvangirai realised that a majority of the 118 members in the national council would not support him.

Another senior MDC-T official alleged that the Saturday's meeting would be almost similar to the one convened in 2006 which resulted in the ouster of Lucia Matibenga as chairperson of the women's assembly by Theresa Makone.

He said although Tsvangirai was not involved in the ouster of Matibenga, this time around similar tactics would be used to silence dissenting voices.

The official alleged that once Mangoma was removed, eight of the 12 provincial executives calling for leadership renewal were set to be dissolved.

He said in Manicaland, there was already a parallel provincial structure allegedly led by David Chimhini and Giles Mutsekwa competing for power with the official one chaired by Julius Magarangoma.

However, MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora said the agenda of the meeting was to discuss the party's strategic plan for 2014 and beyond.

He said Mangoma and all the 12 national standing committee members would attend the meeting. Provincial chairpersons and leaders of the youth and women's assemblies would also attend the meeting, he said.

Mwonzora denied that the meeting would be held at Tsvangirai's Highlands's house, insisting the venue was Harvest House.

"It's basically a working meeting. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for the President [Tsvangirai] and the national leadership to give the correct position of the leadership of the party on various issues," he said.

Mwonzora said MDC-T executive members should not fear to meet lower level leaders as represented by the district chairpersons.

He said the case of Mangoma would not come under discussion at the meeting after the deputy-treasurer general privately met Tsvangirai last Sunday.

Mwonzora said Tsvangirai assured Mangoma that he was free to express his views and participate in party activities.

The MDC-T spokesperson also commented on a letter purportedly written by treasurer-general, Roy Bennett calling for an audit of MDC-T books and for Tsvangirai to resign over allegations of abuse of party funds.

"We shall be releasing more damaging information concerning abuse of party funds by Tsvangirai and his friends in due course," said a person purportedly claiming to be Bennett in a letter to our sister publication Newsday yesterday. "We advised him to resign with his dignity intact, but since he has made his bed, he must lie in it."

Mwonzora said if indeed the treasurer-general wanted an audit, he should have requested this through the standing committee, the national executive or the national council justifying his reasons.

"The custodian of party funds is the treasurer general.

It is from him that transparency is expected and not from officials who have nothing to do with financial management," he said. Bennett could not be reached for comment.

Mwonzora said attempting to force Tsvangirai to resign through threats of exposure of financial impropriety was trying to effect leadership change through extortion.

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