Temperamental MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti on Monday reportedly snubbed the burial of fellow party member and Public Service minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, a move party insiders described as a signal of deep-seated factionalism in the labour-backed movement.
Highly-placed sources told NewsDay yesterday, Biti had opted to travel out of the country at a time the party was mourning Mukonoweshuro, a close confidant of MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Biti was re-elected secretary-general at the party’s third congress early this year after garnering 2 850 votes against Mukonoweshuro’s 764.
“This is bad for Biti politically,” said an insider. “He cannot fight Tsvangirai. He is still too junior. He must stop his machinations and walk together with others otherwise he risks political oblivion.”
The combative MDC-T secretary-general is already in trouble with senior party officials in Manicaland, who have accused him of taking sides in the incessant factional fighting besetting the province.
Tsvangirai told mourners he was still in charge of the party, saying those eyeing his position to should wait for their turn.
“There are some that have declared they want the top post in the party. You need to wait for your time. Your time will come,” Tsvangirai told mourners.
“He (Mukonoweshuro) was one of my key advisers and he was unwavering in his support and loyalty, which is what any leader would want.
“Others will be envying my position wishing they were in my seat, but he was not such a person.”
At the MDC-T national congress held in Bulawayo in May, teams aligned to Tsvangirai and Biti were reportedly jostling for top party posts.
Tsvangirai and Biti, who, according to sources, lead different factions, had a “marriage of convenience” at the congress with the Biti camp supporting Tsvangirai loyalists such as Thokozani Khupe and Lovemore Moyo, who were re-elected as deputy president and national chairman, respectively.
All the candidates, who were on the “Team Yamudhara” (Tsvangirai) list, romped to victory with the exception of Douglas Mwonzora who is allegedly linked to the Biti camp.