New Zimbabwe (London)

9 May 2014

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Spat - Biti Briefs African Diplomats

"EXPELLED" MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti and his renewal team on Friday met African diplomats accredited to Harare, a spokesman has revealed.

Biti briefed the envoys on squabbles in the opposition party as well as the planned "national democratic convention" slated for Gweru next month.

The former finance minister is leading a faction in the MDC-T calling for leadership renewal and wants founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, to step down and pave way for a new leader.

Jacob Mafume, spokesperson for the group, confirmed the meeting saying Biti and his team - which comprised of Elton Mangoma and Promise Mukhwanazi - explained to the diplomats the state of the party and the way forward for opposition politics in the country.

"We explained to them the way forward and also the Speaker's ruling. The ambassadors are worried about the situation in the MDC as they fear that this could weaken opposition politics and kill our democracy," Mafume said.

"We briefed the diplomats on the national crisis, national democratic convention. We explained to them why the party is currently in this state and what we are doing to strengthen our struggle for a democratic Zimbabwe."

Biti broke ranks with his long-time ally, Tsvangirai to join Mangoma in calling for leadership renewal in the opposition party.

He organised a "national council" meeting last month where they suspended Tsvangirai and other leaders loyal to him, including deputy president Thokozani Khupe, Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson and Douglas Mwonzora for allegedly violating the party's constitution.

Tsvangirai hit back by expelling Biti from the party and all those who attended the meeting saying they attempted a "palace coup" against him.

Mafume said the meeting was attended by "almost all African countries" represented in Zimbabwe including those involved in local politics.

"We had countries like South Africa, Nigeria, and Botswana and so on and so forth. Almost all embassies were represented at the meeting," he said.

"We explained to them that we are more concerned with the future of this country than petty party politics which have held our politics for too long. It was a very successful meeting underwriting our commitment to a pan-African orientation and approach.

"In the renewal team we believe in the need for a new paradigm and a new trajectory which says we cannot do it alone, we need the others, thus the need for a convention and sustained national dialogue.

"All these efforts are being made in light of and in the context of the 2018 elections."

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