Hebert Zharare Political Editor
The stand-off in the MDC-T leadership worsened yesterday with spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora announcing the suspension of deputy treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma, a decision immediately described as “voidable” by secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti.In scenes reminiscent of the October 2005 split, party leaders announced different major outcomes of a national council meeting.
Mr Mwonzora announced the suspension at the party’s headquarters at Harvest House in Harare.
Soon afterwards, Mr Biti called his own media conference at his law offices and essentially reversed the decision.
Mr Mangoma and youth leader Mr Promise Mkwananzi were allegedly bashed at Harvest House last month for calling for leadership renewal because Mr Morgan Tsvangirai had failed to lead the party to victory in elections from 2000 to 2013.
Mr Mwonzora yesterday said, “A vote took place and province-by-province voted unanimously. The 12 provinces, including the youth league and women’s league, were represented.”
He went on: “Mr Mangoma has been suspended on four charges. Contravening Article 21A of the constitution, putting the name of the party into disrepute, contravening Article 21G and 21R, that is organising factional activities against the party. He organised meetings in Harare, Midlands North, Mashonaland Central and Masvingo.
“He disrespected and undermined elected officials of the party and also undermined the standing committee and national council authority. He also undermined the party’s position that the elections (July 31, 2013) were stolen.”
He said Mr Mangoma could appeal against the national council’s decision to suspend him.
However, Mr Biti said: “The national council says they have suspended Mangoma, but clearly it’s a voidable decision. What he (Mangoma) is going to do I cannot speak for him. I am speaking as the secretary-general of the party and I want to see this party remain united and focused. It’s a sad day that the MDC mutates into something worse off than Zanu-PF.
“No vote took place during the national council meeting. When we say two-thirds majority, it’s not two-thirds majority of the members present, but of the nominal members of the national council members, which is around 130.
“In (Friday’s) meeting we were about 82. The people who were there cannot constitute two-thirds. The crime here is we did not vote. Some people were asked to say something and some were quiet,” he said.
Mr Biti said the meeting did not constitute a quorum because many members from Matabeleland North and South, Manicaland and other provinces were suspended yesterday and replaced by new people.
He said the party constitution provided that an official elected by congress like Mr Mangoma was supposed to receive different treatment when instituting disciplinary measures and his case could not be handled the same way as that of an ordinary party member.
He said due processes were not followed according to section 12 of MDC-T’s constitution.
“The secretary-general of the party prepares charges and as a legal practitioner, my office was not involved in drafting the charges,” he said.
Earlier in the day, party youths with placards inscribed “No to Violence” and others MDC-T organising secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa, had running battles with riot control police deployed to maintain peace and order.
Police were deployed to avert the violence witnessed last month.
A leaked report by MDC-T’s guardian council warned that the party was headed for a split due to the way Mr Tsvangirai was suppressing debate and that violence was being used as a political tool.