New Zimbabwe (London)

15 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Parades Defectors, Attacks Biti

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday attacked the party faction thought to be led by secretary general Tendai Biti, describing the group as Zanu PF supporters as he addressed a rally in Bulawayo.

The gathering, held at Stanley Square, was also addressed by MDC 99 leader Job Sikhala who, last week, re-joined the mainstream MDC-T party.

Two senior officials from the Welshman Ncube-led MDC also confirmed they had quit and would now work with Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai has been battling to put down an internal rebellion against his leadership said to be led by top officials that include Biti, exiled treasurer, Roy Bennett, and his deputy Elton Mangoma

Mangoma has since been suspended after openly telling the former premier to step down.

Those backing Tsvangirai to continue at the helm of a party he has led since formation in 1999 say Mangoma and his group were being financed by Zanu PF to destroy the MDC-T from within.

Tsvangirai repeated the allegation Saturday, telling supporters that: "If you are from the opposition and you are portrayed in a positive way in the Herald or ZBC then you know that person is now a Zanu PF supporter."

The former premier minister's supporters have been concerned by the positive coverage the notoriously hostile State media has been giving to the Mangoma group.

Alarm bells rang after the openly pro-Zanu PF Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) extensively covered Biti when he dismissed Mangoma's suspension as illegal.

"You know something very fishy is happening behind the scenes when ZBC TV gives a Zanu PF political 'adversary' ten (10) minutes of virtually uninterrupted positive coverage on their prime time News Hour bulletin.

"Some of us saw it coming ... (OPERATION SUBDUE)," said ex-justice minister and Tsvangirai praise-singer Obert Gutu commenting on the ZBC's coverage of Biti's press conference.

Meanwhile, former MDC MPs Edward Mukhosi, (Mangwe) and Siyabonga Malandu (Insiza) confirmed they had re-joined Tsvangirai along with Tedious Chimombe, the former MDC- T Gweru mayor who contested last year's elections as an independent.

Regalia from unidentified Zanu PF defectors were also put on display during the rally.

I had a tough talk with Tsvangirai ... Job Sikhala addresses MDC-T rally in Bulawayo

Sikhala said he was very excited to reunite with his colleagues after almost nine years in the political wilderness.

"Inini napresident vangu vaTsvangirai takasangana tikataurirana mashoko anorwadza. We agreed that the time for personal egos is over and we need to be united in order to remove Zanu PF and Mugabe from power," said Sikhala.

Sikhala said he and Tsvangirai agreed to take the MDC back to the fighting spirit of 1999 when the party was formed.

Also addressing the rally, Mukhosi, who was the MDC-Ncube's Copac co-chairperson, said pressure from former constituents had forced him to return to the MDC -T.

"People in my constituency were always asking me why we are fighting each other when it is clear that our common enemy is Zanu PF," he said.

"I decided to come home and fight Mugabe under a united front. The time for divisions is over. We need to work together if we are to succeed in removing Mugabe and Zanu PF."

Biti, Mangoma and the party's youth leaders all boycotted the rally and were roundly denounced by speakers and party activists.

Some of the notable MPs who attended the rally include Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross, Bulawayo Central MP, Dorcas Sibanda, and vice president Thokozani Khupe.

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