27 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Summons Biti to Explain 'Coup Attempt'

Photo: MDC-T
MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai addressing a rally.

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC on Sunday showed off its numerical edge over rivals by pulling a crowd of more than a thousand supporters who voluntarily thronged Harvest House, the party's headquarters to show support for their embattled leader.

The Tsvangirai group all but turned what was supposed to be a solidarity gathering into a rally with loud music blaring from speakers outside the headquarters.

As the crowd sang and chanted in praise of Tsvangirai, party organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora addressed a press conference that was also attended by dozens of party activists, among them, serving MPs such as Morgan Femai, Fidelis Mhashu and Paurina Mpariwa.

During the press briefing, Mwonzora hit back at the rival faction led by party secretary general Tendai Biti for allegedly convening a "clandestine and bogus" meeting Saturday.

He said the Harare East MP would be summoned this week to explain his actions which he likened to a coup attempt.

"All that happened yesterday (Saturday) is a culmination of an elaborate, covet project involving state security, Zanu PF, Mugabe, Welshman Ncube and the few malcontents in the MDC to disturbalise the MDC and to de-brand the party," Mwonzora said, adding that the Biti group was a bunch of "confusionists and opportunists".

"What Biti and company did ... was an awkward attempt at a coup d'état...the leadership of the MDC is decided by a congress."

The former Nyanga North MP said the Biti meeting fell short of being a legitimate party national council meeting as it was held in secrecy and away from the party's headquarters, a traditional venue for such meetings.

He said the meeting also fell far from meeting the party's quorum as it was attended by only 33 members of the party's national executive out of 195.

Mwonzora said the numbers claimed by Biti Saturday were boosted by members of the Welshman Ncube led MDC.

He also said a properly constituted national council meeting was supposed to be convened by the party's leader, as opposed to the secretary general or any other person for that matter.

Mwonzora is among the more than half a dozen party leaders who were "suspended" by the Biti led "national council" on Saturday for alleged violence and breaching the party's constitution.

He said they have since invited Biti to the National Standing Committee meeting Monday so that he accounts for his actions.

Mwonzora said the Tsvangirai group, which still remains in control of the party's Harvest House headquarters, would hold its own "proper" national council meeting Tuesday which would also decide the fate of Biti and other party MPs who took part in the Saturday meeting.

The nine MPs who attended the controversial meeting are Biti himself, Paul Madzore, Solomon Madzore, Moses Manyengavana, Willius Madzimure, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Bekithemba Nyathi, Evelyn Masaiti and Washy Sibanda.

Mwonzora hinted at the possible expulsion of Biti, who as secretary general, still remains firmly in control of the party's finances together with expelled deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma.

The two dissenters are signatories to the party's bank accounts.

"We have been approached by the members from Harare East (Biti's constituency) appealing to the party to expel Honourable Biti from both the party and be recalled from parliament and we are going to consider that," Mwonzora said.

As he addressed journalists on the fourth floor of Harvest House, his voice was virtually drowned by the loud singing and chanting from outside.

The crowd was later addressed by Mwonzora and Chamisa while Tsvangirai was said to be away in Buhera addressing rallies.

During Saturday's meeting, the Biti group declared it had taken over the affairs of the beleaguered party.

The faction said the suspensions on Tsvangirai and his top leadership were aimed at renewing the 15 year old movement, which has allegedly been tarnished by Tsvangirai.

The meeting, which was chaired by Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, gave Sekai Holland the mandate to lead it ahead of a congress before lifting suspensions imposed by the Tsvangirai group on Mangoma, Last Maengahama, Jacob Mafume, Promise Mkhwanmanzi, among a list of party leaders who have been suspended.

Biti said Saturday they would write to the Speaker of the House of Assembly requesting that the nine legislators who attended the Mandel Training centre meeting be protected against recall by Tsvangirai.

But Mwonzora accused Biti of trying to violate both the national and the party's constitution by claiming the dissenters could not be touched.

"No, no Honorable Biti, you may breach the constitution of the MDC but you are not at liberty to breach the constitution of the country," Mwonzora said.

"The constitution of the country is clear, where a person ceases to be a member of a certain political party, they are recalled by that political party which put them in parliament, and in this case, you were put in parliament by MDC-T.

"I want to warn parliament that they must never be used by people who do not respect their own constitution."

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