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Zimbabwe Opposition Factions Dispute Provincial Reshuffle

The faction of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change defined by its opposition to the new senate and led by party president Morgan Tsvangirai has moved to revamp provincial party chapters, but the opposing pro-senate faction has charged that the exercise is designed to remove party officials who do not back Mr. Tsvangirai.

Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesman representing the faction lined up behind Mr. Tsvangirai, told reporter Chinedu Offor for VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the restructuring of provincial offices was required by the MDC constitution to prepare for an upcoming party congress called to work out differences between the factions.

Mr. Chamisa added that the overhaul will strengthen party structures so that the party can better resist ruling party incursions into MDC strongholds based on the house and senate supermajorities ZANU-PF secured in March and November 2005 elections.

But the faction lined up behind MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube, which ran candidates in the Nov. 26 senate election in defiance of the boycott called by Mr. Tsvangirai and won just seven of 50 elected seats, said the reorganization of the party's provincial structures is meant to reinforce the Tsvangirai faction.

MDC Deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire, speaking for the pro-senate faction, charged that the Tsvangirai faction was carrying out the exercise in disregard of the party constitution. He said there is no need for provincial reorganization because the party has firmed up its support base despite pressure from the ruling party.

Mr. Chimanikire said the anti-senate faction is quietly removing provincial officials who are thought to be sympathetic to the faction that contested last month’s election.

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