15 February 2014

Zimbabwe: Violence Rocks MDC-T Harare Meeting

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

UGLY scenes of violence rocked the opposition MDC-T party as youths divided between leader, Morgan Tsvangirai's and those backing deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma fought running battles Saturday.

At least four groups were witnessed exchanging blows and some using empty bottles as the debate over the continued stay in power by Tsvangirai reached fever pitch.

Tsvangirai summoned the party's 210 district chairpersons, provincial leaders across the structures as well as the party's standing committee to a meeting that critics claimed was meant to cow the party's lower structures into submission.

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told journalists that the chairpersons had rejected Mangoma's proposals for Tsvangirai to resign.

"The district chairpersons endorsed President Morgan Tsvangirai as leader and from what I have seen he is likely to be our candidate in the 2018 elections. As happened with the national executive and the standing Committee Mangoma's proposals were rejected," said Mwonzora.

Mangoma last month wrote a damning letter to Tsvangirai asking the veteran trade unionists to step-down and pave way for an elective early congress.

Since then the former parliamentary majority party has been on the edge with reports of aggression against Mangoma by youths loyal to Tsvangirai.

The then united MDC split into two in October 2005 and what followed was an orgy of violence as bands of youths fought over party property.

Mangoma has stuck to his guns and even intimated that Mwonzora has been lying adding that the proposals in his letter which included creating a position for "founding president for Tsvangirai had never been rejected".

Assaulted by MDC supporters ... former Energy Minister Elton Mangoma

The former Energy Minister has challenged Tsvangirai to an early congress but hawks aligned to the veteran trade unionist have flatly refused to go into war "on the terms of the enemy" in reference to Mangoma.

Mwonzora revealed that a "restructuring exercise" will begin now from the lower reaches of the party to the top.

"It will take at most four months but it was agreed that it should begin now."

Quizzed on whether the "restructuring exercise was a precursor to an early congress, Mwonzora said it was up to the National Council to decide.

"We have a binding decision from the National Council made in September 2013 and unless that is changed by the same organ then there shall be no congress early or extra-ordinary this year.

"If they change then we are likely to have an early congress rather than an extra-ordinary because this has been rejected outright," he said.

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