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Hundreds Support Tsvangirai as Faction Claims He’s Still in Charge

Embattled MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. File Pic.
The MDC-T faction aligned to former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has dismissed as "clandestine and bogus” a meeting Saturday which suspended Tsvangirai and other top party leaders saying it was in breach of the party’s constitution.

Addressing a press conference at the party's Harvest House headquarters Sunday, MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said Tsvangirai remained the legitimate leader of the party.

An MDC-T faction on Saturday announced it was suspending Tsvangirai as divisions deepened within the party’s ranks.

A statement issued by the party after a meeting in Harare accused the former trade unionist of a "remarkable failure of leadership".

It also said he had deviated from the party's democratic founding principles.

Mwonzora, who was accompanied by party organizing secretary nelson Chamisa, blamed Zanu-PF, Central Intelligence Officers and the smaller formation of the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube for the problems besetting his party.

He said there was no quorum at the Mandel Training Centre meeting where a faction led by MDC-T Secretary-General Tendai Biti suspended Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe, national chairman Lovemore Moyo, Chamisa and Mwonzora himself.

"The MDC therefore wishes to categorically state that yesterday’s meeting was a bogus non-event," the MDC-T spokesman said.

"In fact, it was a grouping of comic individuals masquerading as the national council. For the avoidance of doubt, the MDC constitution, in Article 6.5 states that the guardian council is merely an advisory council made up of elderly members of the party."

Mwonzora said in essence by their move, Biti and all the other MDC activists and members involved, had formed their own party, adding they just have to find a name for the new formation.

He said the party is worried that Biti, a lawyer by profession, was leading efforts to breach the party’s constitution all in the name of trying to get rid of Tsvangirai.

Chamisa told party supporters after the press conference that Biti’s Harare East constituency has written to Tsvangirai saying they no longer want him as their lawmaker. He said Biti and all the lawmakers who no longer support Tsvangirai will be recalled.

Mwonzora said Biti is being investigated for allegedly confiscating party property together with the suspended deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma, revealing they previously were the custodians of labour-backed movement’s assets.

He said the Tsvangirai faction is in control of the party’s Harvest House headquarters.

Mwonzora blamed Zanu PF, President Robert Mugabe and the Central Intelligence Organisation for destabilizing his party.

Tsvangirai did not attend the press conference as he was said to be addressing a rally in his rural home of Buhera in Manicaland.

Meanwhile, the Tsvangirai faction will Tuesday convene what it says will be a “genuine” national council meeting which will decide Biti’s fate.

Earlier hundreds of Tsvangirai activists thronged Harvest House in support of the embattled leader in the wake of the internal revolt by party officials led by Biti.

The supporters converged at the party headquarters early morning hoping Tsvangirai would use the press conference to respond to his “suspension” by a party national council led by Biti.

The toy-toying crowd, which made parts of Nelson Mandela Avenue impassible but under the watchful eye of the police, was latter addressed by Chamisa and Mwonzora.

Zanu PF parliamentary chief whip Joram Gumbo dismissed as “childish and pathetic” claims by Mwonzora and the MDC that his party had something to do with divisions in the MDC-T.

“We as Zanu PF have nothing to do with the problems in the MDC,” he said. “It’s more like a carpenter blaming his tools for bad workmanship. We have our own share of problems but we never blame the MDC or Tsvangirai. Let them solve their own problems and not try to rope in other people.”

Gumbo said his party is not celebrating the woes affecting Tsvangirai and his party, adding the country needs a strong opposition.

MDC Ncube spokesman Nhlanhla Dube also dismissed as preposterous claims by Mwonzora and Chamisa that Biti had rented a crowd from the MDC N on Saturday to pretend he had backers as he announced the Tsvangirai suspension in Harare.

He said Tsvangirai and his MDC formation should resolve their problems without apportioning blame to other political parties.