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Zimbabwe Opposition Faction Names New Women's Assembly Leadership

The faction of Zimbabwe's opposition led by Morgan Tsvangirai attempted Tuesday to close a highly charged episode by naming a new slate of officers to head its women's assembly following the dissolution of the executive earlier this month. But it was not clear whether the executive removed earlier this month would concede defeat.

The naming of the new executive followed a congress of the women's assembly of the Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change held Sunday in Bulawayo - though logistical confusion resulted in two separate congresses being held, one of which voted to restore former executive chairwoman Lucia Matibenga to power.

In the statement released Tuesday, Chairman Lovemore Moyo of the Tsvangirai MDC faction named Theresa Makone, wife of the faction's secretary for elections, Ian Makone, the new chairwoman of the women's assembly executive.

Moyo asserted that the dissolution of Matibenga's panel was constitutional, contrary to a lawsuit by Matibenga saying it violated the party's constitution. A Harare high court judge ruled that a congress should decide on the issue of constitutionality - but the disorganization surrounding the congress seemed to leave the issue open.

Moyo said the dissolved executive was dysfunctional and discordant, and he charged that Matibenga loyalists were bused to Bulawayo to disrupt congress proceedings.

The other women named to the women's executive were: Enna Chitsa, deputy chairwomen; Evelyn Masaiti, secretary general; Margaret Matienga, deputy secretary general; Sphiwe Banda, treasurer; Lynete Karenyi-Kore, organizer; Judith Chitembwe, deputy organizer; and Sibusisiwe Masara, information and publicity secretary.

Reached late Tuesday, Matibenga declined to comment on the MDC move.

South African based political analyst Glenn Mpani, speaking before the release of the MDC statement, told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the controversy had marred the Tsvangirai faction's image.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...