4 May 2014

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Infighting - Parly to Have Final Say

Photo: IRIN
MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

SPEAKER of Parliament Jacob Mudenda yesterday said Parliament was now seized with the issue of the MDC-T internal fighting following submissions by the two warring factions in the embattled opposition party.

Mudenda said he was now studying submissions made by the two factions in the MDC-T; one led by "suspended" MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and the other headed by "expelled" secretary-general Tendai Biti on the fate of the party's MP's in the wake of the leadership wrangles.

This follows a letter by the MDC-T deputy President Thokozani Khupe to Parliament giving notice to withdraw nine MPs implicated in the attempted coup against Tsvangirai.

Khupe's letter, submitted to Parliament on Friday, claimed that the party had the right to recall the MPs. Biti had already written to Parliament on Monday, advising it of the "leadership change" at MDC-T and seeking protection of the House for the party's MPs facing ejection due to the infighting.

Mudenda however said he needed time to study the submissions by the two factions. He appeared to suggest that no faction had a clear advantage over the other at the moment.

"The issues have a lot to do with the supreme law of the land," Mudenda said yesterday. "I am still in the process of studying the submissions from both parties."

The MPs facing recall are Biti, Harare East; Solomon Madzore, Dzivarasekwa; Paul Madzore, Glen View; Moses Manyengavana, Highfield; Willias Madzimure, Kambuzuma; Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Lobengula; Bekhitemba Nyati, Pelandaba-Mpopoma; Settlement Chikwinya, Mbizo; Reggie Moyo, Luveve; and Evelyn Masaiti and Watchy Sibanda, proportional representation.

Khupe's letter came after Biti wrote to Mudenda in a "preemptive" move to protect the MPs from recall. Khupe claimed, as the leader of the MDC-T MPs in Parliament, she was the one responsible for recalling the MPs.

The MDC-T is locked in serious internal fights that saw the expulsion of Biti and other party officials calling themselves the Renewal Team for staging a "coup" against Tsvangirai.

Biti, fired deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and other top officials had on April 26 called a "national council" meeting in Harare and resolved to overturn the suspension imposed on Mangoma and other party officials. They summarily suspended Tsvangirai, Khupe and five other party officials loyal to the former premier.

As the drama continues to unfold, Mwonzora yesterday said the party would go ahead with the recall of the MPs for "staging" an illegal operation to topple the leadership outside congress.

"We stand by our decision and proceed to recall them. Because here we have an outfit of crooks which wants to pull a fast one and upset the leadership that was duly elected at a congress," Mwonzora said.

But Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson of the Renewal Team dismissed Khupe's letter to Mudenda claiming it was null and void because it was written by a suspended person.

"The recall has been done by a person [Khupe] who is on suspension. She has no authority to recall the MPs. She was suspended by the national council and she is already violating the terms of her suspension," Mafume.

Mafume said Biti's letter to protect the MPs would stand. He said Biti as secretary general had the ultimate authority to give an order, an argument dismissed by Mwonzora as mere fallacy.

Mafume told The Standard yesterday that the MDC-T's constitution had no clause on recall of MPs but according to Section 129 of the supreme law of the country, MPs can be recalled when they cease to be members of a party.

"In this case, they [the recalled MPs] are still legitimate members of the party. They had been expelled by suspended people. After all, the MDC constitution does not allow for a person to be summarily fired without following due process, which was the case here," Mafume said, claiming that the national council that suspended Tsvangirai and other officials was properly constituted.

Mwonzora however said the meeting by the Renewal Team was attended by only 33 national council members who do not constitute the two thirds required to suspend someone.

"Of the 195 national council members, 167 have written affidavits disassociating themselves from Biti's meeting which was also attended by only one guardian council member, Sipepa Nkomo, out of 28 members. It is a legal nullity," Mwonzora said.

Mafume however maintained that a total of 138 national council members attended and voted for the suspension of Tsvangirai and his top officials, constituting a two thirds majority required for the suspension of the seven.

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