Hebert Zharare Political Editor
Embattled MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and his allies will increasingly use “disciplinary” measures to silence officials who are calling for a change of the guard. Addressing a rally at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru on Sunday, MDC-T national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo branded renewal proponents “betrayers of the highest order”.
He ordered use of party structures to deal with those who want leadership renewal as Mr Tsvangirai’s camp muzzles freedom of expression and democracy in the opposition.
This could put Mr Moyo and secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti on a collision course as the chair oversees disciplinary matters while the latter — who is pro-renewal — is in charge of party administration.
“People that we picked when they were nobodies and were made who they are by this movement are today turning their backs on it.
“If you want to deal with a person who has violated the party’s constitution, I am giving you, as your national chairman, that right to deal with those people who are misbehaving, using the structures,” Mr Moyo said on Sunday.
Already, deputy treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma — the face of the renewal agenda — has been suspended as have many other officials across the country.
However, treasurer-general Mr Roy Bennet has been allowed to “explain” to Mr Tsvangirai what he has meant by calling for leadership renewal without facing any reprisals. Sources said this was because Mr Tsvangirai was hesitant to take on Mr Bennet, who is a leading party fundraiser from his base in South Africa.
Mr Tsvangirai’s supporters have been using violence to try and silence his critics, who point out the fact that the party leader has not won a single national election between 2000 and 2013.
On Sunday, Mr Tsvangirai said no one had the right to tell him what to do and said those who wanted leadership renewal should leave the party.
“Where you there when we formed the party? What values are you talking about — do you know where the party came from? Form your party if you want!
“Do not listen to those people who say Tsvangirai wants to privatise the party. I am not going to privatise the party. I am merely a leader of the people. If you want to form a party that kills MDC, so you want to promote Zanu-PF. That is what it means.”
His critics are uncomfortable that the “T” in the party name stands for “Tsvangirai”, thereby personalising the opposition. They have since dubbed themselves MDC Team.