WASHINGTON DC —
Divisions in the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai widened on Saturday with party secretary general Tendai Biti coming out in the open to lead a faction which immediately announced the suspension of Tsvangirai.
Biti and his group convened their own National Council meeting in Harare at Mandel Training Centre and resolved to suspend Tsvangirai and the top leadership of the party backing him.
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, secretary of the MDC-T's Guardian Council, chaired the meeting where at least 136 National Council members out of 138 are said to have voted to suspend Tsvangirai, deputy party president Thokozani Khuphe, national chairman Lovemore Moyo and his deputy Morgen Komichi, organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa and his deputy Abednico Bhebhe, and party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora.
Indications are that only two members of the Council opposed the suspension of the Tsvangirai and other MDC-T leaders.
"We have reversed suspensions of all senior party officials including Elton Mangoma and others and provincial chairpersons suspended for one reason or another. Those people we have suspended willl now be served with their charge sheets and a tribunal will be called for them to come and answer the charge sheet," said Nkomo.
Reacting to the suspensions, MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told VOA Studio 7 those people who claim to have suspended Tsvangirai and other senior MDC-T officials are day-dreaming.
Mwonzora said this is part of the ongoing crusade to create confusion in the MDC that debrands the party and Tsvangirai.
"It is organized by people who are afraid of taking leadership through democratic processes and especially congress. We will not lose sleep over this meeting which has been convened by people who should have known the law better. Those people who convened the meeting have automatically expelled themselves from the party," he said.
He added that the struggle unseat Zanu PF is going on despite moves by this group to cripple the MDC-T.
"Just to demonstrate that there are not the leadership of the party, we want to see whether they will be at Harvest House (MDC headquarters). But definitely, definitely we are focused and we will remain united as part of our struggle to remove the people of Zimbabwe from misery and poverty which is our benign historical goal," said Mwonzora.
A statement issued soon after the meeting said Tsvangirai “can no longer be considered as a democrat or comrade in this struggle, is clearly unsuitable and has disqualified himself as a fit and proper patriot with the legitimacy, credibility, ability, decency or honesty of leading and executing the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe.
“We the democrats gathered here no longer recognize him or his associates in the Standing Committee in any capacity, therefore exercise our right to freedom of dissociation and will now pursue our struggle with genuine credible fellow Zimbabweans until real victory over Zanu PF and its dictatorship is achieved and attained.
“As such we believe that the party must immediately be placed under the control and curatorship of party elders and veterans in the Guardians Council who must run the party and prepare for Congress where members should be free to elect new leadership. We undertake to rebuild our beloved movement and restore the same to its former position as a leading post liberation movement on the African continent.”
The group noted that the party has been hijacked by “fascists” who are promoting violence which is being nursed by Tsvangirai and his associates.
“The party has been hijacked by a dangerous fascist clique bent on destroying the same (reformists) and totally working against the working people of Zimbabwe. Our principled stand has created a total breakdown of relations with the fascist elements, which breakdown can no longer be retrieved.”
The National Council members noted that they are concerned about the suppression of internal debate, with meetings being turned into lynch mobs and rallies being churches of hate and denouncement of all members aligned to the Democratic Renewal Campaign team.
It declared as “unconstitutional and undemocratic” the expulsion of deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma, national executive members Jacob Mafume and Last Maengahama and party Youth Assembly secretary general Promise Mkhwanazi linked to members of the MDC-T calling themselves the Democratic Renewal Campaign team seeking leadership change following a dismal performance in the 2013 general election.
“We hereby reverse all the unlawful purges, suspensions and expulsions of party members effected since the 31 January 2013. We therefore reinstate Honorable Mangoma, Mafume, Last Maengahama and Promise Mkwananzi. We reassert the party’s control of its assets and confirm the directors of Laphonic Enterprises Pvt Limited and ask them to protect and control party assets.”
INTIMIDATION AND VIOLENCE
The group further noted that they were concerned about the top leadership’s use of violence, abuse of power and patronage system and the use of and all other intimidatory tactics which have always been associated with Zanu PF.
It also noted that the leadership was using parallel structures including so-called vigilantes, kitchen cabinets and other informal channels for furthering its own agenda.
“There is a culture of malice, rumors and gossip, the abuse and disrespect of the constitution, the personalization and privatization of the party, the suppression of free speech and internal democracy in the party and the tyranny of impunity in the party and the selective application of rules.”
At the same time, the Democratic Renewal Campaign team said it was shocked by the leadership’s promotion of tribalism, factionalism and unabated and naked power hunger and the “descent of the party into a sycophantic, thinking blood thirsty mob”.
“Despite the split and the revival of the party between 2006 and 2008, the downward spiral to self destruction did not stop. The old challenges of violence, abuse of the rule of law, disrespect of the rule of law, a weak, flip flopping leadership have remained a permanent infrastructure.”
The Democratic Renewal Campaign team said the spilt eliminated many of the original leaders of the party but regrettably this led to a consolidation of the leader’s sole grip on the MDC-T. “The party transformed into a fiefdom of the Leader, where decision making, policy direction or lack thereof, have been monopolized and privatized. The artistic voice of the party, in song and poetry, the name and symbols of the party have been so personalised through the deified Leader.
According to the National Council, the Government of National Unity totally exposed the permanent failures of the party and those of the Tsvangirai as a systematic equalization and demobilization occurred in government which led to a serious moral and political devaluation of the movement and a serious de-branding of the MDC-T.
It said Tsvangirai was clearly outsmarted by his co-principal in government President Robert Mugabe and miserably failed to push the reform agenda, which was the primary reason of joining government. “The result was that of a party entering an election before the reform agenda was completed.”
At the same time, read part of the statement, “very sadly the Leader’s own personal indiscretions, lack of restraint, lack of judgment and an extravagant taste of high seas and high life, all done in the public glare regrettably brought the party into disrepute.
“The abuse by the Leader of dubious millions of dollars that came his way in questionable expenditure lines at a time when millions of Zimbabweans were starving and hundreds of victims of political violence were homeless or leaving in dire poverty marked a rupture of the Leader and his working class roots.”
The National Council said the party and leader that went into the election of 2013 was not the same as that which fought the elections of 2008.
Despite the fact that the election was massively rigged, it said, the large part of the original MDC base felt betrayed and disappointed by the people’s movement. “Many did not vote and the party polled more or less the same votes it had in 2008.”
It also accused Chamisa of rigging the party’s primary elections which led to serious conflicts within the MDC-T and consequently poor performance in the 2013 general election.
Not only that, said the National Council. “There has been a remarkable failure of leadership. “The leader has been chasing shadows, including the shadow of another GNU, his endless personal issues, his hoped for pension and package including ownership of the State mansion he is residing at.”
All these problems, it believes, were making the party to be irrelevant nationally since it had entered a sustained phase of destruction with Tsvangirai viewing a personal letter written to him by Mangoma urging him to step down as a well-planned internal coup.
As the MDC-T fractures, the DRC noted that it will try by all means to protect sitting Members of Parliament elected under the party’s name.
“To this extent, we resolve to protect all MPs against unlawful fascist actions by the leader’s fascist faction and our secretary general is directed and ordered to write to Parliament in fulfillment of this resolution.”
Tsvangirai has not yet personally responded to his suspension and serious allegations made against him.