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Zimbabwe’s Opposition Party in Throes of Reorganization

  • Studio 7

The leadership of the Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change opposition party was set to meet Friday in an urgent session of its national executive council in response to MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s reshuffle of top advisors.

Mr. Tsvangirai dissolved what had come to be described as his shadow cabinet, reassigning portfolios to sitting members of parliament. He also did away with an inner circle of advisors previously referred to the Top Six, sources said.

The Top Six included, in addition to Mr. Tsvangirai, party secretary general Welshman Ncube, the respective deputies of Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Ncube, national chairman Isaac Matongo and treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube.

William Bango, a spokesman for Mr. Tsvangirai, said the MDC leader will consult former Top Six members on an individual basis. He referred other questions to party spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi. But Mr. Nyathi could not be reached.

Prominent among those now on the outs is former foreign affairs spokeswoman Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga. She was named parliamentary spokesperson for public accounts, but resigned in what insiders said was a protest gesture.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Ms. Misihairambwi-Mushonga about her decision to resign her new appointment as MDC spokesperson on public accounts.

MDC sources said factions have emerged behind Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Ncube, representing, respectively, the trade union ranks from which Mr. Tsvangirai came forth to lead the party, and the party’s academic or intellectual component.

Political analyst Joseph Kurebwa told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele that the changes imposed by Mr. Tsvangirai are intended to reinforce his position as opposition executive and address criticisms as to a lack of leadership.

Dr. Kurebwa said party divisions deepened in the runup to the March elections as some urged the MDC boycott the ballot while others – who ultimately prevailed – said it needed to take part in the voting. In the event, the opposition lost seats in parliament and the ruling party claimed a two-thirds majority, though MDC officials contended the election was marred by widespread fraud.

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