Disturbances that rocked Harvest House last week are a result of ongoing factional feuding and not cable disclosures that some senior MDC-T members allegedly undermined party leader Morgan Tsvangirai during discussions with United States diplomats.
Political analysts say the fracas that characterised the MDC-T national executive meeting was a result of long-standing unresolved feuds which were aggravated at the party’s congress held in Bulawayo early this year.
MDC-T leaders on Wednesday said the ghost of October 12, 2005 had returned to haunt them after a heated debate over the WikiLeaks cables degenerated into near fisticuffs pitting Senator Morgan Femai and Thamsanqa Mahlangu, Nkulumane MP, against national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and Charlton Hwende, a member of the national executive of MDC-T.
The analysts said Tsvangirai should stamp his authority and work to mend divisions within his party if he had any hopes of winning the next election.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka played down the mêlée at Harvest House saying:
“The Prime Minister’s position is a matter of public record. His position is the position of his party which position was taken by the national council when it met on 10 December 2010, which is to the effect that Wikileaks are a non-issue in the MDC.”
But analysts said the real reason behind the near fists incidents had little to do with the leaked US diplomatic cables, but long-standing power struggles within the MDC-T.
“I do not think it’s about WikiLeaks,” said Charles Mangongera, a Harare–based analyst.
“WikiLeaks revelations are being used to settle scores. What we are seeing is post- Barbourfields unhealed wounds. It is indicative of unresolved tensions not only at Harvest House, but in other structures of the party.”
Mangongera said individuals that lost at the congress were now fighting back, adding party leader Tsvangirai should quickly move in to stamp his authority.
“I do not know what the party should do because I thought people should respect democracy. Those that lost at Barbourfields are looking at opportunities to fight back,” he said.
Political observer Blessing Vava agrees.
“The chaos is obviously emanating from the congress power struggles. These are mere personality differences which are neither ideological nor objective. It also signals the power struggles and succession battles within the party,” he said.
Vava said those agitating for the party to discuss disclosures in leaked US diplomatic cables were undermining the leadership which had resolved the matter was a “non- event”.
“The party had made a position that the WikiLeaks saga is now water under the bridge, but surprisingly some executive members are still raising the matter which signals that they have other scores to settle,” he said.
Mutare–based social commentator James Mupfumi said while factionalism was the main reason behind the disturbances at Harvest House, the WikiLeaks disclosures had evidently wreaked havoc in both the MDC-T and in Zanu PF.
“Obviously, the bottom line is factionalism which has been brewing in these two parties over a while,” Mupfumi said from Mutare.
“Both Zanu PF and MDC want the public to believe that they have not been deeply affected by the WikiLeaks revelations, but an honest assessment here will tell you that both leaders of these parties will eventually carry out serious purges and they will be victims.”