The deputy treasurer-general of the MDC-T, Elton Mangoma, was on Friday suspended by the party for 'provoking divisions and bringing the movement into disrepute'. He will now face a disciplinary tribunal to be set up next week.
This is the first time since the formation of the MDC that a member of the standing committee has been suspended. But Mangoma's suspension might ignite the slow-burning crisis in the MDC-T as other members are agitating for a split.
At the heart of complaints from Mangoma's camp is the alleged authoritarianism within the party, that has seen party leader Morgan Tsvangirai refusing to step down.
Following a meeting of the party's National Council at Harvest House, Mangoma faced a backlash from visibly angry members drawn from across the country. Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said a motion to suspend Mangoma was unanimously agreed by all the 12 provinces, including the women and youth leagues.
Mangoma attended the national council meeting, the first by the decision making body of the party this year. He was asked to excuse himself when members were told to deliberate and vote on his fate.
There were attempts by Mangoma's lawyer to seek an injunction to stop any discussion on Mangoma's fate at the meeting. It appears the move failed. This time there was no violence as police kept a close eye on events outside the party headquarters.
There was however a demonstration believed to have been organized by members from Mangoma's camp. The demonstrators called on the party to respect the constitution and to stop the violence. Other placards were critical of the organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa, seen as a major stumbling block in all efforts by the other faction in their attempts to oust Tsvangirai.
Despite earlier assumptions by the Mangoma camp that Tsvangirai would not garner enough votes to take action against the former MP, it must have come as a surprise to realize there were no dissenting voices during the vote.
Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa that Mangoma will face four charges during his disciplinary hearing. The tribunal will be made up of three independent lawyers, one of which should be a qualified judge of the High court.
The four charges slapped on Mangoma are; undermining and bringing the party into disrepute, organizing factional meetings, disrespecting party organs, especially members of the standing committee, national executive and national council, and undermining the relationship between the MDC and its strategic partners.
'Mangoma is now automatically suspended as deputy treasurer-general, pending an appearance before an independent tribunal. The party will meet next week to decide on the names of the team that will look into Mangoma's case,' Mwonzora said.
Journalist and analyst Itai Dzamara said he did not see Mangoma surviving Friday's meeting as his attacks on Tsvangirai and the party 'have been going on for some time and had reached intolerable levels of disrespect.'
'There are three scenarios I see happening from this outcome. It's either Mangoma will go through the disciplinary hearing or he'll fight back and use the court to block any attempts to fire him. Lastly and which is his last option, he'll walk out and form another party with some of his colleagues involved in the plot,' Dzamara said.