Zvamaida Murwira and George Maponga
MDC-T has suspended two district chairpersons in Masvingo Province as factional fights between party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and national executive member Mr Nelson Chamisa escalate.
This comes as MDC-T was forced to eat humble pie when it abandoned disciplinary proceedings against Bulawayo Senator Matson Hlalo, a Chamisa ally, whom it had suspended for dragging the party to court over a leadership row in Bulawayo Province.
In Masvingo Province, those suspended are Chiredzi North district chair Mr Josphat Rukatya and his Bikita East counterpart Mr Sengurudzai Mangezi ostensibly for attending a meeting organised by the yet to be launched People First fronted by deposed former Vice President Joice Mujuru.
But sources in the party said the two were suspended over their alleged links to Mr Chamisa, who hails from Masvingo, as rival factions backed by Mr Tsvangirai seek to defuse the influence wielded by the Kuwadzana East legislator.
Mr Chamisa is believed to enjoy the support of many MDC-T supporters in Masvingo, including that of Mr Mangezi and Mr Rukatya, according to sources in the province.
MDC-T Masvingo provincial chairman Mr James Gumbi confirmed the suspensions which he said were done following a provincial executive meeting, but refused to divulge more details on the matter
“I cannot comment on the matter because that might prejudice investigations that are being done,’’ he said.
Mr Rukanya confirmed receiving a suspension letter, while Mr Mangezi could not be reached.
On Sen Hlalo, the opposition party has since stopped the disciplinary processes after it emerged that Mr Tsvangirai had misled the national council last year that Sen Hlalo had not withdrawn a court case, when the two had struck a deal where they agreed to pursue internal remedies.
The opposition party’s national council resolved to expel Sen Hlalo for allegedly defying the party directive to withdraw his court action in which he was challenging the appointment of Mr Gift Banda as the party’s provincial chairperson for Bulawayo.
Mr Hlalo got the wrath of Mr Tsvangirai after he fell out of favour with party vice president Thokozani Khupe, who preferred Mr Banda as chairman.
Another hurdle that faced MDC-T that influenced it to abandon disciplinary proceedings was that the party lost in the High Court in their bid to uphold Mr Banda’s election.