Factionalism rocks Tsvangarai led MDC
The Morgan Tsvangarai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) national executive member and Bulawayo East House of Assembly representative Ms Tabitha Khumalo has accused party leader Morgan Tsvangirai of “killing the party” through an unorthodox management style that has seen the emergence of two factions – one led by secretary-general Tendai Biti and the other by national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa.
This came as it emerged last week that the MDC-T has received US$5, 6 million from its foreign financiers to destabilise the security and civil services and recruit “moderate” Zanu-PF Cabinet ministers ahead of national elections scheduled for later this year.
Sources last week said the intra-party factionalism reached a crescendo when Mr Biti was a fortnight ago detained by suspected pro-Tsvangirai youths just before a critical party meeting at Harvest House.
It is understood he was only released after Mr Tsvangirai’s intervention.
The sources said Ms Khumalo, apparently frustrated by the power struggles, launched the unprecedented attack on Mr Tsvangirai during a standing committee meeting at party headquarters on April 11.
The sources said she told the meeting attended by 35 senior officials that sharp divisions within the higher echelons of the party continued to render
the political outfit ineffective.
They said so stunned were the three party strongmen that they did not respond.
Ms Khumalo tried to downplay the meeting when contacted for comment yesterday saying it only dwelt on intra-party violence. Mr Biti and Mr Chamisa could not be reached for comment by late yesterday afternoon.
“The issue (intra-party violence) is before a commission whose findings were handed over to the standing committee,” said Ms Khumalo.
Sources who attended the meeting, however, maintained that tension was simmering following the outspoken legislator’s remarks. “(Ms) Tabitha Khumalo told Morgan (Mr
Tsvangirai) that his management style was killing the party,” said the sources. The foregoing was compounded by the existence of three factions led by himself, (Mr) Biti and (Mr) Chamisa, respectively. She also said (Mr) Chamisa was intolerant and tended to unleash violence on those opposed to his leadership.”
The sources said the power struggle between Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Biti turned nasty when the latter was detained by some party youths who accused him of attempting to wrest leadership from the former.
The youths, according to the insiders, threatened to assault him and to reveal his “darkest secrets”.
Mr Biti himself is said to have later turned the heat on Mr Chamisa during the standing committee meeting, accusing him of spreading “malicious rumours” about his functions as a member of the management committee of the constitution-making process.
“The youths labelled (Mr) Biti an alien, whom, they said, was not qualified to dethrone Tsvangirai.
“They threatened to physically assault him for allegedly challenging the MDC-T leader. (Mr) Biti was only released after (Mr) Tsvangirai’s intervention.
“. . .During the meeting, members sought clarification from Mr Biti and Copac co-chair Mr Douglas Mwonzora on the progress made (in the constitution-making process), whereupon Biti took the opportunity to accuse Chamisa of spreading malicious rumours that he wanted to include the post of Prime Minister in the draft to accommodate his political aspirations. He denied harbouring such aspirations.”
On April 12, the party held a national executive council interface, which was chaired by national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo. It is understood treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma told the meeting that the party had secured US$5,6 million from its financiers for campaigns ahead of national elections scheduled for later this year. He indicated, according to insiders, that the funds would be used to mobilise civil servants, army personnel, war veterans and selected Zanu-PF Cabinet ministers. It is understood the meeting also resolved to work with non-governmental organisations during food aid programmes.
“Chamisa added that the party would target junior ranks within the security sector as a result of disgruntlement over poor salaries and working conditions,” said the source. The party is also targeting retired and dismissed security officers for recruitment.”
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