29 June 2014

Zimbabwe: Tight Security As Biti Unveils New Colours

MDC Renewal Team Secretary General Tendai Biti yesterday arrived at the team's all structures meeting held at the Harare Show Grounds under heavy guard.

A team of bodyguards, apparently drawn from the party youths, stampeded to the huge off-road vehicle as Biti stepped out in the company of his political partner, Elton Mangoma making a human wall around him, before accompanying him into Mandela Hall where an estimated 1 000 supporters gave him a standing ovation.

The Renewal Team has apparently found identity in the form of the orange colour -- an indication the group may be on its way to form a new party, and ditch the red colour associated with the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Senior officials of the Renewal Team, including their leaders Biti and some delegates at the meeting spotted orange regalia.

Biti and Mangoma went round the hall greeting supporters before being led to the high table that was decorated by oranges, which may have symbolised the faction's likely new colours.

Team's spokesperson Jacob Mafume said the heavy security around Biti was necessitated by what he called the "political immaturity" that has characterised Zimbabwe's political landscape where people with opposing views were assaulted willy-nilly.

"There is political immaturity and national leaders can be assaulted by unruly elements from opposition quarters," Mafume said.

About the orange colour, Mafume said orange was the colour used by social democrats around the world. He said by using orange, it signified the "ripening of the revolution. "The orange colour shows that the country is ripe for change," Mafume said.

Biti said the meeting attended by about 1 000 people from Harare's 24 wards, was meant to explain the team's ideology and identify vacant positions to be filled.

The meeting came barely a day after the team's tribunal handed a default judgement on "suspended" party leader Tsvangirai and national chairman Lovemore Moyo. The judgements will be announced tomorrow, according to Mafume.

This was despite a High Court interdict barring the internal hearing from going ahead until the courts have made a determination on Tsvangirai's application seeking to be declared the legal custodian of the MDC-T.

Biti said people who attended the All Structures meeting made a clear statement, that they were tired of poverty and "sterility of ideas" by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF government and the leadership of Tsvangirai.

"Zimbabwe needs change and the people here have come to make a statement that Zimbabwe needs a restart and a revitalising movement," Biti said.

He said Zanu PF owed the people an apology for throwing the country in a deep structural economic recession. He said Mugabe should repeal the Indigenisation laws that have failed to attract foreign direct investment for the country, while there was need for a technical transitional team to revive the country's economy.

Renewal Team Harare province chairman Paul Madzore said the All Structures meeting would cascade to all provinces as the party aims to establish and fill in vacant positions in the structures.

"This is our first meeting after the Mandel meeting where we suspended our leader Morgan Tsvangirai. This is a follow-up to the Mandel meeting and it will cascade to all provinces. The meetings will issue out the team's roadmap," Madzore said.

He said all the people came to the meeting holding positions they previously held before the suspension of Tsvangirai. Madzore said the team would fill positions left vacant by people who have remained with the former prime minister.

Mafume said the meeting was the first step in interacting with the generality of the party's followers.

He said the team would not be deterred by Tsvangirai's court challenges which helped to prove he recognised the Mandel meeting that suspended him.

Mafume said the party proceeded to deliver a default judgement on Tsvangirai and Biti because they had not been served with the court order.

"We have not been served with the court order, so we had to proceed," Mafume said.

He said Tsvangirai cited the wrong people in his application to stop the hearing.

"He cited Biti, Mangoma (former treasurer-general), Sekai Holland (leader of the party's guardian's council) and Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo. Tsvangirai cited the four in their individual capacities, and did not cite the tribunal, which proceeded with the hearing and gave him a default judgement," Mafume said.

He said Tsvangirai remained suspended.

"The tribunal appointed in terms of the MDC constitution met on 27 June 2014 at Mandel Training Centre at 10am as had been scheduled from the earlier postponement," Mafume said.

"The two individuals involved, Morgan Tsvangirai and Lovemore Moyo were in default and the consequences of default judgment followed. A full judgement will be given by the chair of the tribunal Gift Nyandoro in due course."

He said no court order had been availed to the tribunal to stop the proceedings.

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