THE MDC-T Friday finally took decisive action against its rebel treasurer-general Elton Mangoma who was slapped with suspension pending a full disciplinary hearing into allegations of bringing the name of the opposition party into disrepute.
But party secretary general Tendai Biti was quick to describe the controversial decision, reached by the MDC-T national council, as null and void.
Mangoma, a senior party official once entrusted with the huge task of negotiating the coalition deal with rivals Zanu PF and running the party treasury, torched a storm by calling on MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to step aside in place of a leader with fresh ideas to dislodge Zanu PF rule.
Although hailed by other party officials as consistent with the party statutes, Mangoma's public humiliation of the party president has riled some, chief among them youths who resorted to assaulting the bespectacled politician for seeking to undermine the charismatic leader's authority.
The acrimonious events have culminated in his suspension Friday pending an independent Disciplinary Tribunal in terms of the party constitution.
According to party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora, Mangoma is being accused of ignoring the directive of the MDC-T National Executive not to discuss party business through the press and fanning factionalism within the Party.
"The charges preferred against Mangoma are as follows: 1. Article 2.1 (o) of the Disciplinary Code of Conduct and Regulations of Movement for Democratic Change Constitution, which notes that an offence shall be committed by a member who disrespects and undermines any organ or elected official including failure to respect the protocol of the Party," said Mwonzora in a statement.
"Mangoma's allegations made in various interviews with the local and international media houses undermined the authority of the National Standing Committee, National Executive, National Council and Congress."
Mwonzora said Mangoma also violated Article 5.4 (b) of the MDC Constitution, which notes that every member shall have the duty to conduct oneself in a manner which is not prejudicial to the interests of the party, in particular, to adhere to the Code of Conduct of the Party.
"The actions by Mangoma have seriously undermined our relationship with strategic partners. It is also further noticed that his behaviour and attitude undermines the party position that the July 31 elections were stolen," said Mwonzora.
Mangoma is further alleged to have breached the party disciplinary code and constitutional regulations which notes that "an offence shall be committed by a member who disrespect and undermines any organ or elected official including failure to respect the protocol of the Party".
Said Mwonzora: "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.
"The Party is going to appoint an Independent Tribunal which will be made up of three lawyers with the chairperson who shall be a person qualified to be a Judge of the High Court.
"The MDC has formally served Hon. Mangoma who was present at the meeting with the suspension letter. The hearing will start immediately."
Soon after the Mangoma ruling was passed, Biti quickly called for a press briefing at his law firm in Harare's Milton Park suburb where he rubbished the process that led to the verdict.
The Harare East MP, who is believed to be among the sponsors of the anti-Tsvangirai movement, said the process did not measure up to the values of the MDC-T.
Biti said he as party secretary general was not duly consulted over the intention to charge Mangoma, adding that the charges were read to Mangoma during the stormy meeting.
The former Finance Minister also queried the quorum of the National Executive saying it was stashed with "new faces" that had an agenda against the former energy minister.
"I am duty bound to deal with the breach of the constitution, and I therefore call for Mangoma to have his right to be heard and for all the delegates eligible to attend such meetings to be verified," Biti was quoted as saying.
While Biti and a handful party stalwarts lamented the suspension of Mangoma, the mood was different elsewhere.
"THE PUPPET IS GONE...!!" wrote MDC-T Harare province spokesperson Obert Gutu on his Facebook page, "NOW WE GO FOR THE PUPPETEER....!!!"
Gutu had written hours before, "Comrades and friends ... just be careful! There is OPERATION SUBDUE and we know the prime movers behind this wicked but relentless exercise to weaken, decimate and ultimately collapse the people's project.
"There is real big money involved in this project. Unfortunately some of our erstwhile very senior comrades were found with their hands deep in the cookie jar during the GNU era and now it's payback time!"