MORGAN Tsvangirai has told the rival MDC Renewal Team they had taken the high road to political doom, having failed to learn from a similar rebellion against his leadership in 2005.
The former prime minister, who is fighting to see off a bid to oust him by disaffected members of the MDC-T leadership, was speaking to supporters Friday at a rally held in Mashonaland Central's Chiweshe area.
The Renewal Team, led by secretary general Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma among others, wants Tsvangirai to step down, accusing him of having failed to topple President Robert Mugabe some 15 years after the MDC-T was formed.
But Tsvangirai reminded them he survived a similar challenge in 2005 when, then secretary general Welshman Ncube led a group of dissenters out of the MDC-T, accusing Tsvangirai of dictatorship.
Political observers have warned that the party faces an even bigger and perhaps more damaging split this time round.
However, Tsvangirai told supporters the MDC-T would emerge stronger from the departure of elements being used by Zanu PF to destroy the opposition party.
"The rebellion in 2005 by Welshman Ncube was a rebellion of trying to support Zanu PF. Today, the rebellion by Biti and Mangoma is the same and there's no renewal in it," he said.
"In 2005, a small group left the party as well as in 2008 but the party is still going, and we wonder who the strong ones are."
Biti has dismissed allegations he was being used by Zanu PF, telling supporters at a recent meeting in Gweru that: "We have scars; have been tortured and arrested several times by the Zanu PF regime.
"Some of the people who are making these claims have never been to Chikurubi Maximum Prison let alone Matapi Police Station in Mbare."
Even so, Tsvangirai said the Renewal Team were misdirecting their energies.
"As a party, we are saying we should go in this direction and achieve these goals but someone starts to distort everything," he said.
"Have you yet achieved what you set out to do in the beginning? Their only message is Tsvangirai must go, so when are you going to start to say Zanu PF must go? You are wasting all your time saying Tsvangirai must go, is he Zanu PF?"
The MDC-T leader insisted he had the support of Zimbabweans fed-up with Zanu PF and President Mugabe's leadership, adding those who thought otherwise could go their merry separate way.
"A lot of people in the party know what we are doing, and they also know where we are going and they support it because they are sure that we are almost there," he said.
"People of Zimbabwe know that victory is certain and I even know that myself. It will be a great betrayal to all those who have stood by us, if we fail this struggle.
"If anyone wants to leave the party, they should do so peacefully and let us do what we are doing in the MDC. It is not proper to say this one needs to step off so that we get on his spot, it shouldn't be done that way."