New Zimbabwe (London)

5 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Rivals Dig in, Split Now Imminent

Photo: Trevor Davies/IPS
MDC-T youths

SIGNS of an imminent MDC-T split became clearer Saturday when party youth assembly secretary general Promise Mkhwananzi convened a press briefing to announce they were going ahead with plans to dislodge party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

This is contrary to claims two weeks ago by the embattled opposition leader the party's warring factions have patched their differences.

Flanked by national executive council member Last Maengehama and Jacob Mafume, lawyer to suspended party deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma, Mkhwananzi said they now had renewed determination to oust the embattled leader, whom they accuse of straying from the party's founding principles.

Tsvangirai, said to be lacking in strategy and personalising the struggle to dislodge Zanu PF from power, is battling for his political survival and has instituted a campaign to purge perceived party enemies.

Mkhwananzi said Mangoma and his "renewal" team were "messengers" of a far wider anti-Tsvangirai sentiment he said had gone beyond individuals.

Messengers of renewal...Promise Mkwananzi, Last Maengehama and Jacob Mafume

"The renewal is not about individuals, it transcends individuals, it's bigger than individuals and one of its primary objectives is to actually create an organisation which is above personalities," he said.

The press briefing, he said, was aimed at officially announcing Mafume as the interim spokesperson of the Mangoma led group while also stating their position after the party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora has openly sided with Tsvangirai in his public comments.

Mangoma, suspended for undermining the party's leadership, was conspicuous by his absence, but was said to be engaged elsewhere.

Except for party director general Toendepi Shonhe, there were no other notable party figures at the press briefing, which was held at Harare Club, central Harare.

The former student activist rubbished claims by Tsvangirai that the MDC-T's quarrelling factions had put their differences aside for the sake of the party.

"You cannot unite with yourself," he said, "You cannot say 'l am uniting' and you don't call the aggrieved party. In that instance, when the so-called unity was announced, the person who was on suspension was the deputy treasurer general.

"That unity was a farce. The underlying issues have not been dealt with, hence the intensification of the renewal process."

He further accused the former premier of staging "a revival crusade" where he now parades returning party rebels at political rallies and asking them to tell the world they have "repented".

Mafume refused to link party secretary general Tendai Biti to the project saying an appropriate time shall come for those who are in the struggle to come out.

He said the strategy was also aimed at clearing the ground for the leaders of the senior leaders who feared retribution from Tsvangirai's violent supporters before the leadership renewal initiative could find traction.

"At this present moment, what is needed is to protect the democrats in the MDC who are genuinely calling for renewal, that they are not indeed victimised by those who are breaking away from the values of the party while trying to create the impression that they are in the majority when clearly they are in the minority within the MDC in terms of issues around strategic renewal, leadership renewal," he said.

Mafume, who contested the Southerton seat, albeit on a losing cause in the last elections, further called for broader support in their attempt to dislodge the popular leader.

"We believe that a united democratic movement that builds a broad social movement will deliver democratic transition in Zimbabwe and the time for such a movement is now," said Mafume.

"We call upon all democrats that are locked up in undemocratic institutions to come forward and participate in this united front to bring about change for Zimbabwe.

"We want to assure all Zimbabweans that as the remaining genuine democrats in the MDC, we are committed to advancing transition in Zimbabwe and we will be advising you of further developments in due course."

Mafume insisted the Mangoma group was in control of the party.

Asked why they chose to hold the briefing outside Harvest House, the party headquarters, Mafume said would have created "different headlines" opposed to what they were trying to put across.

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