11 September 2018

Zimbabwe: Biti Downgrade Set to Ignite Fight With Chamisa

Photo: 263Chat
MDC Alliance's Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti (file photo).

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has set the stage for fresh clashes with Tendai Biti after he boldly elevated Welshman Ncube to the lofty position of party Vice President while downgrading the former Finance Minister to the lowly position of being party deputy national chair.

The new party leadership configurations, announced at a press briefing by Chamisa spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda, saw Morgen Komichi elevated to co-VP.

They are part of a process by the main opposition to merge its breakaway factions led by Ncube and Biti.

But in signs he was not too keen on Biti occupying a more influential party position, Chamisa deployed his MDC Alliance co-principal below Thabitha Khumalo, who now becomes substantive national chair.

Asked for his opinions about the deployments, a sulky Biti professed ignorance about the new appointments.

"Appointments by who? I am not aware of those. So, please talk to people who know," Biti said.

Asked if he would be satisfied with his new position if eventually informed, Biti was adamant he was not the best to respond to the question.

"Why are you now talking to me? I am just telling you that I don't know yet."

A cagey Sibanda suggested Biti was aware of the new developments but was yet to be handed his formal appointment letter.

"We made the announcements today and he is yet to receive his call from the office. I will check for you whether he got his appointment letter," Sibanda said.

Further asked if the position of deputy national chair was befitting of the former party secretary general and MDC Alliance co-principal, Sibanda said Biti was at ease with his position.

"I think he has. He is a disciplined politician. He would certainly understand the position of the president.

"He is not playing games. He is probably genuine about that. I know the honourable (Biti)," Sibanda said.

MDC sources said Biti's new position was the best he could get from Chamisa who was under pressure to keep party rebels at arm's length.

Biti led the party's second split 2014 after a foiled bid to oust founding and now late party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, igniting bitter relations between him and his MDC-T allies.

"Biti is in fact the biggest beneficiary in this. Chamisa is trying a lot to reintegrate him following resistance from MDC politicians who feel they are being overlooked for someone who abandoned ship and became a party enemy while they kept their loyalty to the party.

"Chamisa is putting his head on the line for Biti who should be grateful instead for the position," said the source.

Others felt Chamisa was too clever not to risk bringing Biti too close to the party's presidium as he was too ambitious and unpredictable.

This, they say, was demonstrated by Chamisa's decision Tuesday to overlook Biti while appointing the party's chief whip and the deputy despite Biti being the most senior MDC Alliance politician in parliament.

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