New Zimbabwe (London)

7 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Mangoma Suspension Unconstitutional - Biti

THE leadership fight within the opposition MDC-T took a turn for the worst on Friday after party secretary general Tendai Biti came to deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma's defence, declaring his suspension move null and void.

Biti told a hastily arranged press briefing at his Harare law firm that the composition of the national council meeting that made the decision to kick out Mangoma, albeit temporarily, was a nullity.

"We sat this afternoon but the events thereof are regrettable and I represent the views of many of us who are democratic and have suffered for this," said Biti.

"We received a report from the national chairman and the decision was that we did not think the matter should be referred to the national council. We agreed that the leadership should go for a retreat and find each other.

"However coming to the national council; some people who received suspension letters as they tried to enter the meeting. The biggest crime is that there was no vote people where asked what they think, some answered while some remained mum.

"As the secretary general of the party I have a duty to uphold and protect the constitution. We will now call for a national executive meeting before a properly constituted national council is convened."

He added: "If that national council decides in its wisdom to charge Mangoma he should be given his right of reply."

Earlier party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora had said the decision had been unanimous.

"The MDC national council met and recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the party's deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma.

"A unanimous decision by all of the MDC's 12 political provinces was taken that charges be preferred against him," Mwonzora told journalists at a press briefing.

Mangoma, Mwonzora said, had breached disciplinary code in the process bringing the party into disrepute and would now be hauled before an independent tribunal headed a lawyer to be High Court Judge.

"It is alleged that Mangoma intentionally put into the public domain contents of the letter he had written to the president (Morgan Tsvangirai) and conducting interviews with the press in clear violation of a national executive as well as engaging in factional meetings," said Mwonzora adding the former energy minister was also guilty of granting interviews to the press, undermining the party's structures.

"Mangoma's allegations made in the various interviews with the local and international media houses undermined the authority of the national standing committee, national executive, national council and congress."

Mangoma torched a storm when he penned a letter urging Tsvangirai to resign.

The veteran trade unionist obstinately refused and according to Mangoma "resorted to fanning hatred and belligerence against him and others with a differing opinion to his"

Ugly scenes followed a meeting of the party's 210 district chairpersons at which Mangoma was attacked by rowdy youths outside the party offices in central Harare.

Mangoma, according to the resolutions read out by Mwonzora, will also be charged with bribery.

"There is evidence that Mongoma engaged in factional meetings in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central where he abused party funds. He is therefore suspended until after the tribunal hearings," said the MDC-T spokesperson.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the attack on him, Mangoma accused Tsvangirai of usurping the party constitution, undermining the MDC-T's founding values as well as being behind his roughing up.

"Regrettably your response to the letter that I handed to you in good faith, which I have referred to above, has fallen foul of the pillars of our constitution and what is expected of you as the leader of the party," Mangoma wrote in his second letter.

"You have stated clearly that you will not stand aside and accused me and others whom you have not named, of seeking to unseat you from the presidency unconstitutionally."

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