Tichaona Zindoga Senior Reporter
MDC-T secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti has slammed the culture of violence characterising the party, saying he was lucky to escape largely unscathed when deputy treasurer-general Mr Elton Mangoma was allegedly bashed in Harare recently.At a discussion at SAPES Trust in Harare yesterday on the future of opposition politics in Zimbabwe, Mr Biti relived the violence at the party’s headquarters last month.
“I was beaten, too, but we were lucky to be escorted away in the car. Some were holed up on the fifth floor and anything could have happened to them,” he said.
He denounced the recourse to violence in the party which has seen officials such as Professor Welshman Ncube, Ms Trudy Stevenson, Mr Toendepi Shonhe and Mr Peter Guhu among others being assaulted by party members.
“We cannot arbitrate differences through violence. I would rather sit at home than belong to an organisation that believes in the use of violence as a way to resolve differences.
“If we differ we have to find ways for discourse without using violence. If this happens now what if some of us have State power? Violence is a no-go area,” said he.
Local embassies of Australia, Canada and the US – which have traditionally backed MDC-T – have also condemned the culture violence in the opposition party.
Mr Biti said: “We cannot create a movement to fight for democracy when we cannot apply it to ourselves. We should be tested by the same standards and we should pass the test.”
Mr Biti conceded defeat to Zanu-PF in last year’s elections, saying the revolutionary party had a message that resonated with the people while MDC-T failed to connect.
In apparent reference to the personality cult being built around MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Biti called for “depersonalistion” of the opposition.
He suggested the formation of alliances in the opposition, which he dubbed the United Democratic Front, “based on values not opportunism for winning elections”.
Mr Biti said Zimbabwe’s political economy had significantly changed since 1999 when the opposition tapped into the formal labour movement, with today’s informal economy posing a different public mindset.