MORGAN Tsvangirai remains MDC-T leader, party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora declared Saturday evening, telling the leadership renewal faction they were having a laugh after they suspended the former premier following a meeting in Harare.
Saturday's drama meant the MDC-T had effectively splintered again, barely a month after Tsvangirai insisted there was no crisis in the party "cockpit" and downplayed public rifts as just robust debate.
Party secretary general and former finance minister, Tendai Biti - one of the drivers of the leadership renewal project - said they would now rebuild the party anew.
Sekai Holland was said to have stepped in as interim leader while those suspended with Tsvangirai included his deputy Thokozani Khupe (deputy president), Lovemore Moyo (national chairman), Morgen Komichi (deputy national chairman), Nelson Chamisa (organising secretary) as well as Douglas Mwonzora (information secretary).
Mwonzora - who backs Tsvangirai - however said the "rebels" could dream on, insisting former trade unionist remained party leader.
"The MDC will convene a meeting of critical organs of the MDC on Sunday. We will then call a press conference in the afternoon at the MDC headquarters in Harare to deal with the matter once and for all," he told NewZimbabwe.com.
According to Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, secretary of the MDC-T's Guardian Council, Saturday's meeting was attended by a 138 of the 190 national council members. 136 councillors voted for Tsvangirai's suspension with only two backing him to stay put.
But Mwonzora said the group convened an illegal meeting, adding the gathering was improperly constituted, rendering its resolutions a nullity.
"The national council of the MDC cannot be made up of people from other political parties such as Welshman Ncube," he said.
"This was clearly the work of State security agents, Zanu PF, (President) Robert Mugabe, Welshman Ncube and a few malcontents in our ranks who are trying to destroy the MDC.
"The claim that 138 national council members attended the meeting is laughable because, for one to be a member of the council, they should first be a legal member of the MDC and many of those who attended the meeting are not members of the party.
"Our reading is that this is the work of people who are scared to challenge the party president at congress because they know they cannot win. The secretary general (Tendai Biti knows he cannot defeat Tsvangirai at congress."
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Biti said: "We feel these people have betrayed the struggle. We will rebuild our party from the current ashes."
Divisions in the party exploded after the 2013 elections when senior party members blamed Tsvangirai for the MDC-T's comprehensive defeat, undermining the party's position that Mugabe and his Zanu PF cheated their way to victory.
Former energy minister Elton Mangoma then wrote to Tsvangirai, advising him to step down to make way for a new leadership.
He was rewarded with a beating after attending a heated party meeting at Harvest House in Harare before being suspended and eventually expelled.