OUTSPOKEN MDC-T legislator and Morgan Tsvangirai ally, Obert Gutu has warned his comrades against taking the MDC-T leadership fight to the local courts saying this would open the internal feud to manipulation by old enemy, Zanu PF.
Instead, Gutu said, the Tsvangirai camp must play the political card against its rivals who, since the split three weeks back, have shown to be less popular among ordinary party members than them. The MDC-T leadership fight was sparked by party deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma's bald demands early this year for the party's founding leader to step down, accusing him of barren and dictatorial leadership.
Things came to a head weeks later when powerful party secretary general Tendai Biti staged an "attempted coup" when he congregated a group of top party dissenters who immediately pronounced "suspensions" on Tsvangirai and his top lieutenants. The two factions have since been trading bitter accusations and have both written to Parliament stating their positions on the status of the nine MPs who have openly sided with Biti. Parliamentary Speaker Jacob Mudenda has refused to be dragged into the wrangle, preferring to refer the warring factions to court.
But Gutu, a lawyer and former Justice deputy minister, said allowing themselves to be dragged to court where they have no control would be tantamount to playing straight into the hands of their enemies. He said it was not surprising Mudenda, a Zanu PF ally, chose to refer the parties to court. "I saw this coming as I had already indicated to some of my comrades in the struggle," Gutu wrote on his Facebook page. "Zanu PF would love to keep our party in a perpetual state of paralysis by deliberately intimating that the dispute between us and the rebels can only be... resolved by the courts. With the greatest of respect to our judiciary, some of our judicial officials are not entirely impartial; particularly in politically sensitive matters."
The MDC-T believes the current power fights that have seen a handful party MPs, provincial chairs and national council politicians siding with the Biti led leadership renewal team, were being sponsored by Zanu PF. The looming court battle is set to decide who, among the feuding camps, was the legitimate MDC-T, who will both have the power to expel party MPs and control the party's assets. Biti, a lawyer and shrewd tactician, is believed to have done his homework thoroughly and was relishing a duel in the courts with party rivals. "This matter needs a political and not a legal solution," Gutu said. "The rebels are on public record stating that they are going to formally launch their own political party soon, complete with new party symbols and slogans. Let's not be trapped into fishing in Zanu PF-infested waters.
The rebels project is a stillbirth and sooner rather than later, the chickens will come home to roost." He continued, "The rebel MPs should be politically exposed and isolated. They can run for now; but certainly they cannot hide forever. Let us just wait for an opportune moment to deliver the ultimate sucker punch. As it is, the rebels project is in a complete mess; decimated by simmering power struggles and personality clashes.
The rebels project is an accident waiting to happen. It is lacking in popular gravitas and ideological clarity. Put simply, it is a contaminated dog's breakfast." Biti has called for a convention later this year that would bring together all opposition parties together towards the formation of a coalition he says shall launch a stronger challenge against Zanu PF's 34-year-old rule. But the coalition has to do more to find traction after former Finance Minister Simba Makoni's Mavambo-Kusile and Lovemore Madhuku's National Constitutional Assembly have both refused to subordinate themselves to the ambitions of the Biti led group.