THE battle for control of the MDC-T escalated yesterday with party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai convening a national council meeting which resolved to expel secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti and 10 MPs who last Saturday held another national council meeting to suspend Mr Tsvangirai and five senior party leaders for alleged financial impropriety, violating the party’s constitution and using violence against political opponents, among other vices.
Mr Tsvangirai announced the expulsion of Mr Biti and deputy treasurer-general Mr Elton Mangoma with immediate effect for “convening an illegal meeting’’ on Saturday.
Also expelled are 10 legislators namely:
- Hon. Solomon Madzore, Dzivaresekwa
- Hon. Paul Madzore, Glen View South
- Hon. Moses Manyengavana, Highfield West
- Hon. Willas Madzimure, Kambuzuma
- Hon. Samuel Siphepha Nkomo, Lobengula
- Hon. Bekithemba Nyathi, Pelandaba Mpopoma
- Hon. Evelyn Masaiti, Proportional representation
- Sen. Watchy Sibanda, Mat. South
- Hon. Settlement Chikwinya, Mbizo
- Hon. Reggie, Moyo, Luveve
The 11 legislators — Mr Tsvangirai said — face recall from Parliament, but Mr Biti has since written to the National Assembly saying no one, apart from him, had the locus standi to recall legislators.
Mr Biti and his colleagues leading the MDC-Team are accused of organising an illegal meeting at Mandel Training Centre that suspended Mr Tsvangirai, deputy president Ms Thokhozani Khupe, national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo and his deputy Mr Morgen Komichi, organising secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa and his deputy Abednico Bhebhe as well as spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora.
Announcing the expulsion after his faction’s national council and executive meetings yesterday, Mr Tsvangirai also called for an early congress to be held in October and hinted at plans to centralise powers in his office among other sweeping changes to the party structures.
MDC-Team spokesperson Mr Jacob Mafume yesterday dismissed the expulsion as null and void.
“The position is this was a meeting that was attended by suspended individuals who had no locus standi to do that.
“The national council met on the 26th of April and deliberated on the issue and suspended the individuals and the process is still ongoing.
“Therefore they cannot purport to do what they have done…It’s null and void. There is no way they could form a quorum, all the chairpersons were not there, they attended our meeting, where did the delegates come from?”
Mr Mafume said chairpersons for Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, and Midlands North among other provinces did not send delegates to the meeting at Harvest House.
Mr Tsvangirai, in turn described, the Mandel meeting as illegal saying its resolutions were a nullity.
“The national council acknowledged that Tendai Biti and others that attended the unconstitutional Mandel meeting have expelled themselves in accordance with the (party) constitution,” he said.
“On Tendai Biti and team, Solomon Madzore and others having formed their own party, have in terms of the Section 5(10) (a) of the party’s constitution, ceased to be members of MDC-T party.
“The said persons have been summarily dismissed in terms of Article 12 as read together with Article 5 (11) (a) of the constitution.”
Deputy secretary-general Dr Tapiwa Mashakada was yesterday made acting secretary general while Costa Machingauta was made acting youth assembly chairperson until congress.
Women’s Assembly chairlady, Mrs Theresa Makone, would now double as the deputy treasurer general taking over from Mr Mangoma.
Mr Tsvangirai said the Mandel meeting was an attempted coup by Mr Biti and his compatriots.
He said the MDC-T had recalled its nine parliamentarians who attended the Mandel meeting.
“Consequently, in line with section 129 (1) (k) of the national constitution, the MDC (T) MPs who participated at the Mandel meeting will be withdrawn from parliament.”
Mr Tsvangirai accused Zanu-PF of fomenting the divisions afflicting his party.
“Why is Zanu-PF afraid that it will invest so much in our party and to divide our party? You know zvandakataura zviya kuti moyo chena wei mhou kumwisa mhuru isiri yayo? This is what is coming to pass. I know in 2005 (Professor) Welshman (Ncube) was a project and now it’s Tendai and Mangoma it has nothing to do with the people. The support and the solid support we enjoy in this country is unquestionable.”
Hundreds of party supporters gathered at Harvest House where they sang, danced and denounced Mr Biti.
Responding to the accusations, Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity, Cde Rugare Gumbo said: “Our position as Zanu-PF has been abundantly made clear. The problems of incapacity to keep the party together in the MDC have nothing to do with us. The people in the opposition party have different ideological positions, the young individuals have different interests – the intellectuals have different interests – so it is a delicate party with a failed leadership.
“They do not have the experience and capacity to hold the party together particularly in such a complicated set up. The opposition party MDC is sponsored by foreigners and they are the ones engineering the problems that are within that party. They are saying Morgan Tsvangirai has failed to deliver and bring political or regime change in Zimbabwe, which is what brought them together, so they are now saying Morgan Tsvangirai must go.”
Spokesperson of Prof Ncube’s MDC formation, Mr Nhlanhla Dube, has since dismissed the MDC-T’s claims that the formation was involved in the squabbles affecting the party.
“The MDC wishes to unequivocally place it on record once and for all that we have consciously refrained from commenting on the internal fights within the MDC-T and as such we are astounded by remarks attributed to that party’s spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora where he includes Prof. Welshman Ncube among the people he blames for his party’s squabbles.
“It is our hope that sooner, rather than later the culture of taking responsibility for the things we do and situations we find ourselves in as political parties will sit well with our compatriots within the MDC-T and that they will collectively see the folly of the ostrich approach to problems. Neither Professor Ncube nor the MDC caused the violent beatings meted out on Elton Mangoma, Promise Mkwananzi and the harassment of Tendai Biti, Solomon Madzore and others,” he said.