The Herald (Harare)

17 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Chickens Come Home to Roost for Tsvangirai

The MDC Renewal Team says it will bring opposition leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai before a disciplinary tribunal next month following his suspension from the party.

The renewal team, fronted by secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti, on April 26 suspended Mr Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe, Morgan Komichi (deputy chairperson), Douglas Mwonzora (secretary for information) and Nelson Chamisa (organising secretary) and Abednico Bhebhe on various charges including promoting violence and factionalism.

Mr Tsvangirai in turn expelled the renewal lobbyists in the unravelling drama that has also spilled to into Parliament where the Speaker, Cde Jacob Mudenda, recently ruled that the factions should take their dispute to the courts.

Spokesperson of the renewal team Mr Jacob Mafume said a panel of three judges had been appointed to discipline Mr Tsvangirai and others in line with Article 12 of the MDC constitution.

Its reads: "Once such a decision (suspension of an office bearer) is made, the particular affected office bearer shall be automatically suspended pending the determination of the charges against him, by an independent tribunal duly appointed by the National Council, comprising of three registered legal practitioners, one of whom shall be qualified to be a judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe.

"The independent tribunal appointed above shall have the powers of meting out any penalty to the affected official including suspension and expulsion from the party," said Mr Mafume, adding:

"The independent tribunal, shall be obliged to follow all formal rules of court proceedings and shall allow the affected official the benefit of legal representation."

"The hearing will be done in the next four weeks and three judges, who are reputable and experienced lawyers, have been appointed to handle the issue."

Mr Mafume declined to name the three panellists for professional reasons.

However, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora yesterday scoffed at the impending disciplinary action.

"First of all, Tendai Biti, Jacob Mafume and others have formed their own party which they are failing to find a name for. Being people who have formed their own party, they have authority over members of their party not members who do not belong to that party," he said.

"I don't, neither do president (Morgan) Tsvangirai and other leaders, belong to that party and we will therefore not appear before a kangaroo tribunal," he said.

Asked if Mr Tsvangirai did not risk default judgment of the forthcoming tribunal, Mr Mwonzora said: "We won't care: it is as meaningless as the meeting at Mandel (Training Centre)."

He said the charges included promoting violence, promoting factionalism and bringing the party into disrepute.

The former legal advisor to Mr Tsvangirai hinted on chucking out him from Harvest House, the MDC headquarters in Harare's Central Business District, which the latter has regarded as his forte throughout the two splits since 2005.

He dismissed suggestions that the renewal team was looking for alternative accommodation in Harare.

"Once their cases are finalised, we will move substantively to the administrative issues but if one is squatting or illegally staying on land and nothing is being done it does not mean the land is yours. However, we will let the due process of law take (its) course," he said.

However, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora yesterday scoffed at the impending disciplinary action.

"First of all, Tendai Biti, Jacob Mafume and others have formed their own party which they are failing to find a name for. Being people who have formed their own party, they have authority over members of their party not members who do not belong to that party," he said.

"I don't, neither do president (Morgan) Tsvangirai and other leaders, belong to that party and we will therefore not appear before a kangaroo tribunal," he said.

Asked if Mr Tsvangirai did not risk default judgment of the forthcoming tribunal, Mr Mwonzora said: "We won't care: it is as meaningless as the meeting at Mandel (Training Centre)."

He said his faction would seek to recall MPs aligned to Biti "soon", arguing that the recent pronouncement by Speaker of Parliament Cde Jacob Mudenda had not proscribed such a move.

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