The Herald (Harare)

1 March 2014

Zimbabwe: MDC-T On the Verge of Splitting

Photo: MDC-T
MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai addressing a rally ahead of 2013 polls.

Hebert Zharare — Internal squabbles characterised by violence against senior officials are fomenting a split in MDC-T, the party's Guardian Council has said. Council members - Mrs Sekai Holland, Dr Samuel Nkomo, Mr James Makore and Mr Cephas Makuyana - said this in a report dated February 5.

The council is mandated with offering guidance to the party.

"The seemingly over-reliance on emotions by national standing committee members when dealing with critical national issues is damaging the party image.

"They have not been honest with one another in the execution of their duties and with all party structures, leading to the current stalemate, where the national standing committee is taking the party on the path to destruction synonymous with the events leading to the October 12, 2005 split," reads part of the report.

The report, which some senior MDC-T officials say party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was trying to block from being presented to the national standing committee and the national council, contains several issues deputy treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma has been raising.

Exactly 10 days after the report was prepared, Mr Mangoma, youth leader Mr Promise Mkwananzi and secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti were attacked at Harvest House, the party's headquarters in Harare.

MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora on Thursday disowned the report.

"We have not received any document from the guardian council, either as standing committee, or the national council.

"The guardian council presents its document to us first. What we know is the national council is still carrying out consultations about the issues affecting the party. We do not know the authenticity of the document you have," he said.

Given that Mr Tsvangirai was losing support in grassroots structures, the council recommended that all engagement with lower echelons of the party be immediately stopped for now.

"The visits and engagements with the structures be ceased forthwith until a decision has been made on these proposals to avoid discord during the delicate period.

"It is clear at this juncture, further engagement with structures will continue to polarise and perpetuate entrenched positions

and divisions."

Mr Tsvangirai wanted a congress in 2016 as scheduled, but the council recommended that the elective meeting be held next year.

"All members of the national standing committee agreed that they did not believe that it was appropriate and prudent to follow the current schedule 2016 timetable for the next congress as the 2018 harmonised elections would be too close.

"Their view was that the constitutionally scheduled 2016 timetable would not grant sufficient time for campaigning and organising to win the 2018 elections," the guardian council said.

To that effect, it was noted; "That the party holds an extra-ordinary congress where only the national standing leadership (national standing committee and national executive committee members) is included. That the early congress be held by 2015, constituting a party renewal process where positions will be contested, beginning with the branches to the national level, in terms of the party's constitution."

The guardian council said MDC-T had lost its grip of local, regional and international politics since its heavy loss to Zanu-PF on July 31, 2013.

"The party appears to have become dysfunctional, as there is neither open organised debate to define our perception of the July 31 election, nor has there been any inclusive party programme on the ground to take the party forward."

The council said there was rampant violence, vote-buying, factionalism and manipulation of voting processes during internal polls.Meanwhile, Mr Mangoma has written another scathing letter to Mr Tsvangirai, in which he accuses his boss of violating several sections of the party's constitution.

Mr Mangoma expressed his displeasure on how the meeting that culminated in his attack was conducted, and insisted Mr Tsvangirai set him up for the beating.

He noted that Mr Tsvangirai continued with his public ridiculing of Mr Mangoma the following day at a rally in Glen Norah, Harare.

Mr Mangoma's lawyer Mr Jacob Mafume has since confirmed that the letter had been delivered to Mr Tsvangirai.

However, Mr Mwonzora said the letter had been written through the media.

"The issue of writing the letter to the president through the press is best known to Mangoma. He knows better why he is doing that. If he had issues, he was supposed to talk to the president," he said.

Mrs Holland and Mr Nkomo could not be reached for a comment yesterday.

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