SW Radio Africa (London)

23 May 2014

Zimbabwe: MDC-T Guardian Council Sucked Into Factional Tussle

Photo: The Herald
Sekai Holland

The MDC-T's Guardian Council chairperson Sekai Holland says she was forced to read out a statement whose contents did not reflect what the elders had resolved.

Holland delivered the statement Thursday, following a two-day meeting of the council of elders to discuss pressing issues within the party.

In the statement also posted on the party's website, the elders distance themselves from the meeting held at Harare's Mandel Training Centre in late April.

"The Guardians Council wishes to categorically state that it was never involved in the planning, convening, organising and conduct of the meeting that was held at Mandel and dissociates itself from all the resolutions of that meeting," Holland said.

The group also condemned the use of violence to settle political disputes and resolved to work towards facilitating dialogue between the warring factions.

The Mandel meeting was convened by the Tendai Biti-led group which is calling for leadership renewal in the MDC-T, specifically that Tsvangirai step down.

During the meeting the renewal group resolved to suspend Tsvangirai and six other members of his inner circle, including Mwonzora and Nelson Chamisa.

In suspending Tsvangirai the group accused him and his allies of displaying "fascist" tendencies and using violence to silence dissent.

Guardian Council secretary and MDC-T MP Sam Sipepa-Nkomo chaired the Mandel meeting and also announced the nomination of Holland as interim party leader.

Nkomo did not attend the two-day Guardian Council meeting held at Courtney Hotel in Harare, allegedly after receiving a tip-off about a planned attack on him.

Jacob Mafume, the spokesman of the Biti-led renewal team, rubbished suggestions that the Guardian Council had distanced itself from Biti.

According to Mafume, Mwonzora and Tsvangirai's spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka actually wrote the statement which they then 'forced' Holland to read to the press.

"It was a statement written by Mwonzora who then brought a group of youths to intimidate the councillors and brought a statement which the councillors had not signed for," Mafume said.

Holland herself confirmed to SW Radio Africa that the statement she delivered on Thursday did not reflect the views of the councillors.

"Our tradition as the Guardian Council is that after our meeting we present our resolution to the president. We did that and made a few adjustments and the office staff availed themselves and made changes which contradicted what was in our document.

"The whole meeting was unusual because we had militias milling around. Earlier I had received information that I was going to be beaten up because they wanted a particular statement," Holland said.

She added that she felt compelled to read the statement from Mwonzora and company to protect Guardian Councillors who risked being attacked on leaving the venue on their way home.

"Today (Friday) I then put out the proper statement from the Guardian Council," she said.

This statement acknowledges that the party is in crisis and deplores violence, but it does not mention the Mandel meeting.

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