15 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Western Embassies Plot Tsvangirai Ouster

IN a development meant to expedite Morgan Tsvangirai's ouster as MDC-T leader ahead of the next elections, Western allies are said to be persuading sections of the party to hold an early congress which they would fully fund.

Tsvangirai is fighting for his political life after the party's deputy national treasurer, Elton Mangoma openly told him to step down and allow the election of a new leadership to bring in new ideas ahead of the 2018 vote.

Mangoma's daring move sparked a bitter and often violent leadership spat pitting the former energy minister, supported by the likes of Roy Bennet, Elias Mudzuri and Tendai Biti on the one hand, against Tsvangirai who has the backing of his deputy Thokozani Khuphe, Nelson Chamisa, Douglas Mwonzora and Morgen Komichi, among others.

America, Britain and Australia, traditional allies of the MDC-T, have reportedly had it to their back teeth with Tsvangirai after he failed to topple President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party in three successive attempts over the last 15 years.

Tsvangirai denies he was defeated, arguing his rival has repeatedly cheated him out of victory through blatant vote fraud and unleashing violence against his supporters.

But the argument appears to be losing traction with Western embassies in Harare who have also been unimpressed with the former prime minister's sex scandals and alleged misappropriation of party finances.

The donors have already started applying pressure by cutting funding to the party, leaving it struggling to finance its operations and forcing Tsvangirai to plead with supporters to contribute even a penny each.

A top official who works closely with Western envoys attached to Harare told NewZimbabwe.com that donors were adamant that Tsvangirai should not lead the MDC into the next elections.

The official said meetings were being held, almost on a daily basis, by the donor community to strategize on how the MDC can be compelled to hold an early congress that would elect a new leader.

"The funders are not even happy with Tsvangirai," said the official.

"They (donors) believe it's high time he should resign. They are being told that Tsvangirai has lost credibility because of the scandals which he was implicated in. There is a faction within the MDC which is feeding the West with that information.

"But we have tried to inform them (donors) that, although Tsvangirai has been tainted, he still has a huge following, but they seem not to understand us. We have told them that if Tsvangirai goes that will be the end of the opposition and they are not convinced.

"Meetings are being held where they (Western embassies) are planning to influence the party to hold an early congress so that Tsvangirai is booted out.

"They are ready to fund the whole congress should they succeed to persuade the party to hold the congress .All they want is to see Tsvangirai out before the elections."

The MDC-T's Guardian Council - a grouping of respected politicians within the opposition party - recently proposed that the party should hold an early congress.

The Guardian Council believes that the constitutionally scheduled 2016 timetable would not grant sufficient time for campaigning and organising to win the 2018 elections.

Tsvangirai has refused to step down while his supporters insist the party will not be stampeded into an extraordinary early congress to assuage the "extraordinary" ambitions of a few individuals.

The veteran trade unionist has vowed to serve out his current five year term at the helm of the party which ends in 2016 and, then, seek another mandate.

Last week Tsvangirai insisted that the current leadership dispute would not lead to an implosion emphasising the disagreements would be addressed amicably.

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