MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti is in trouble with senior party officials in Manicaland, who accuse him of taking sides in the incessant factional fighting besetting the province.
After he reprimanded six MPs, a senator and 37 provincial and district members last month, the officials hit back on Wednesday, accusing Biti of bias, in a letter to him and copied to party leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
“. . . your failure to respond to our concerns and your subsequent acceptance and the action taken based on rumours and one-sided version can only be deemed as taking sides,” reads part of the letter.
“In addition, the process of trivialising the issues we raised before hearing our side and the action of calling us pitiful losers demeans our persons in the eyes of the public. This is unacceptable in a party that espouses the principles of justice, democracy and tolerance of members’ views.”
The officials said they would disregard Biti’s letter to reprimand them.
“We, therefore, consider your so-called reprimand of no force or effect in terms of our constitution. We strongly suggest that the procedures set out in the MDC constitution and the tenets of natural justice need to be followed,” reads part of the letter.
Last month, Biti accused the officials of “participating in illegal meetings, organising, inciting, plotting, executing or implementing any programmes of factionalism, divisions and hatred” at a meeting held at Jopa Construction in Mutare.
Biti described them as “pitiful losers”.
Part of Biti’s letter to the officials reads in part: “. . . to express its (the party’s) disappointment with the meeting that took place at Jopa Construction on July 1 2011, all of you are hereby reprimanded and reproached forthwith and are further warned against participating in illegal meetings, organising, inciting, plotting, executing or implementing any programmes of factionalism, division and hatred”.
He also accused the group of stirring factionalism by inciting party supporters to disregard the current provincial executive.
Biti advised that while people might have differed in their choices of candidates for the party’s third national congress held in Bulawayo in May this year, it was no longer an excuse for maintaining and reproducing those divisions.
But the members hit back, saying they were shocked and perturbed to receive a letter of reprimand from Biti, arguing no due process and hearing was conducted.
They said: “We sense intimidation in your letter. This is totally unacceptable and only serves to alienate the targeted members from the party.”
Manicaland is an MDC-T stronghold after garnering 22 seats out of 24 during the March 2008 harmonised elections.
The affected officials include Nyanga-Mutasa Senator Patrick Chitaka, MPs David Chimhini (Nyanga North), Webber Chinyadza (Makoni West), Trevor Saruwaka (Mutasa Central), Willard Chimbetete (Nyanga South), Tangwara Matimba (Buhera Central) and Naison Nemadziva (Buhera South).