New Zimbabwe (London)

4 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Speaker Deciding MDC-T Legislators Row

Photo: IRIN
MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

SPEAKER of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, has said he will make his ruling on the recall row regarding legislators at the centre of the leadership dispute rocking the opposition MDC-T party.

Mudenda told the weekly Standard newspaper he was studying submissions made by the rival factions in the country's biggest opposition party.

The MDC-T has effectively splintered into two with one faction led by former finance minister Tendai Biti and the other backing ex-premier Morgan Tsvangirai.

Biti's group recently met in Harare and agreed to suspend Tsvangirai and members of the leadership backing him to cling onto power.

Citing reasons allegations similar to those made by the then secretary general, Welshman Ncube, when he walked out of the MDC in another bitter split back in 2005, Biti, among other things, accused Tsvangirai of corruption, dictatorship and the use of violence against anyone who dares disagree with him.

Tsvangirai's faction subsequently held its own meeting and summarily expelled Biti and his associates.

Tsvangirai however acted well after Biti had written to Parliament advising the Speaker of the "leadership change" in the party and requesting protecting of legislators backing him from recall.

Still, deputy party leader, Thokozani Khupe, wrote to Mudenda requesting the expulsion of all MPs aligned to Biti.

Khupe insisted that, as leader of the party in Parliament, deciding which MPs should be recalled was her responsibility, a claim rejected as ridiculous and fanciful by Biti's faction. Mudenda said he needed time to study submissions by the rival factions.

"The issues have a lot to do with the supreme law of the land. I am still in the process of studying the submissions from both parties," he told the Standard newspaper.

Apart from Biti himself, MPs at the centre of the row include 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 Watchy Sibanda, proportional representation.

Douglas Mwonzora, the national spokesman who is siding with Tsvangirai insisted the nine MPs must be kicked Parliament.

"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.

Jacob Mafume, who speaks for the so-called Renewal Team insisted that Khupe's letter to the Speaker was null and void.

"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," he said.

The leadership dispute follows the party's woeful performance in last year's elections which were comprehensively won by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.

The MDC-T was initially united behind the claim that Mugabe and his party cheated their way to victory but it soon became clear some in the leadership were not convinced, instead blaming Tsvangirai for the disaster.

According to Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, who chaired the meeting which suspended Tsvangirai and his loyalists, "rigging would only be 10% of the problem, and 90% was our fault".

Former energy minister and deputy national treasurer sparked the current crisis by openly telling Tsvangirai to step down and make way for a new leadership, a proposal the former premier rejected with fury.

Mangoma was beaten up by Tsvangirai supporters at the party headquarters in Harare for his cheek before being expelled, a development that forced Biti and the rest of the leadership renewal team to act.

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