Is MDC-T embracing culture of intra-party violence?


ZIMBABWE’S political landscape has for years been characterised by violence.

Everson Mushava

Most of the violence is cross party, but in recent times, infighting linked to succession wars in political parties has been taking centre stage.

President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF and its biggest opposition, the MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai, have recorded the highest cases.

In Zanu PF, fights between factions reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa have been rampant, while in the MDC-T, violence has also occurred between Tsvangirai loyalists and those linked to a faction allegedly led by party secretary general and former Finance minister Tendai Biti.

Observers, although they did not condone the violence from Zanu PF that has left Zimbabwe a paranoid society, thought the emergence of the MDC-T with emphasis on democratic change would help the situation. But the hope is dying faster than it was conceived.

In last year’s elections, both Zanu PF and MDC-T experienced ugly scenes of intra-party violence due to jostling by aspiring legislators to represent the parties in the July 31 general elections that were won by Zanu PF.

Zanu PF supporters clashed across the country, notably in Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s constituency as he battled to shake off stiff challenge from his ex-wife Marian and Mugabe’s nephew, Edwin Matibiri.

This led to demonstrations at party headquarters as the infighting turned nasty. The same was happening in the MDC-T, tempers flared as a result of alleged imposition of candidates.

Still, the selection of candidates to represent the parties in the general elections by the parties was enshrouded by leadership fights between factions angling themselves to succeed Mugabe (Zanu PF) and  Tsvangirai of the MDC-T.

Observers say the violence has the blessings of the party leaders, who want to keep a stranglehold on power and could only be stemmed by political will from these leaders.

Most people think dealing with intra-party violence is the first step in dealing with cross-party violence that has been crippling the body politic in Zimbabwe.

In 2008, over 300 people died, according to the MDC-T, while thousands where displaced due to violence unleashed by Zanu PF on its longtime rival.

But at a time when it was thought the people should bury their differences and focus on the economy, the ugly face of violence has resurfaced. Zimbabwe remains a politically polarised society.

While Zanu PF officials are in a housing war in Chitungwiza that has left some of its supporters homeless, the MDC-T is embroiled in a bitter succession war that has seen a lot of party bigwigs publicly calling for Tsvangirai’s ouster.

First to come out in the open was exiled party treasurer Roy Bennet. He has received support from Marondera Central losing parliamentary candidate Ian Kay, and a lot of others who think it is time up for Tsvangirai after a poor electoral show in last year’s general elections.

But party deputy treasure Elton Mangoma could not get away with it after he wrote a letter calling for Tsvangirai’s resignation. He was bashed by party youths at the party’s Harvest House headquarters in Harare on Saturday. Biti was also targeted for attack.

This flies in the face of claims by the party that it is democratic and tolerates divergent views; the reason why the labour backed party was formed to fight Zanu PF, which had for years been accused of dictatorial tendencies.

Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, who was Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairman, spent more than a decade in the political wilderness for publicly saying Mugabe should go.

A similar plot, now known as the Tsholotsho debacle set up to fight Mugabe’s leadership also claimed several scalps. Similarly, the MDC’s split into three parties could be traced to succession battles. Several provincial chairpersons had to pay the price.
But the MDC-T seems to have been borrowing notes from Zanu PF in building a personality cult out of the party leader. It is capital offence to challenge the party leader.

The MDC-T has, however, said it will investigate the assault of Mangoma, but analysts say the party leadership condones violence and does not have the capacity to stem the scourge.

Analysts say the party failed to investigate and bring to book perpetrators of past violence and there was no guarantee it would bring to book the culprits of the weekend violence.

Charity Manyeruke, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, said the weekend violence was a leadership fight that was sanctioned by the party’s leadership and dealing with it would be a mammoth task.

“It will be like the leaders fighting against themselves,” Manyeruke said.

“The MDC-T at the moment has no capacity to deal with intra-party violence. It’s violence within the leadership and redressing it will be problematic.”

Leader of MDC 99, an offshoot of the original MDC, Job Sikhala said violence was in the bloodstream of the MDC-T and anyone who wants to challenge Tsvangirai would be subjected to such physical abuse.

He said violence was sanctioned by party leaders who are the “commanders and sponsors” of the heinous acts.

“If people think the MDC will be able to deal with it, they will be dreaming. More internal violence will be experienced. Violence has been a problem in the MDC right from the beginning,” Sikhala said.

“There have been several investigations on violence, including a report by David Coltart on violence in the MDC, but nothing has happened. The party is run by a group of thugs who thrive on violence. Zanu PF is better because there is discipline. No one can do what happened at the weekend in the face of Mugabe.”

Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya yesterday dismissed the MDC-T’s commitment to dealing with the perpetrators of the weekend violence saying it was evident the party had failed to stem the plague.

“It is apparent the MDC is failing to deal with violence,” Ruhanya said.

“The MDC has failed to address the issue of violence in its rank and file. They must convince the public that they are serious about peaceful political activities and the respect for human rights. They should walk the talk by taking concrete measures that stop violence once and for all.”

Ruhanya said the MDC leadership should stand firm against violence to resolve internal conflict if they  want to avoid the risk of being accused of being the authors of the violence. He said stifling dissent was undemocratic.

Despite a statement by MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora promising to deal with the perpetrators of the weekend violence, “if in fact they are MDC-T supporters”, people now doubt the ability and sincerity of the party in eradicating violence.

In the past, the MDC witnessed internal fights and reports of the investigations had been made public, but no action against the perpetrators was taken.

Serious infighting broke out at the Bulawayo 2011 congress and a report was compiled, but no disciplinary measures were taken against the perpetrators.

Earlier on, several cases of infighting were recorded.  In 2005 at the time the MDC split into two parties, one led by Tsvangirai and the other by his former secretary-general Welshman Ncube, several members were assaulted, including Trudy Stevenson, who was accused of being too combative against Tsvangirai.

Several cases of violence were recorded at the party’s headquarters, where Mangoma was assaulted at the weekend, but still, no action has been taken.

The many cases that have gone unresolved have cast doubt in the minds of sceptics on the ability of the MDC-T to deal with internal perpetrators of violence.

Dewa Mavhinga, board chairperson for Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch said violence was criminal and if the party was failing to deal with it, the perpetrators should be handed over to the police.

He said violence should be unacceptable to a party that is guided by democratic principles.

“Political violence is not only wrong, it is also criminal, so, if internal systems of accountability are inadequate, they should let the police investigate and bring the culprits to book,” Mavhinga said.

“The MDC leadership must take drastic measures to bring the perpetrators of this shameful violence to book. This time we expect a very public process of discipline to nip this practice of impunity in the bud.”

Political analyst Ernest Mudzengi said the MDC –T is capable of dealing with violence provided there is a political will to do so.
“The MDC-T can deal with violence provided there is a political will on the part of leadership,” Mudzengi said.

He said the part needed to establish a culture of tolerating divergent views, a democratic culture and to develop a unity of purpose in order to stem the scourge.

Mwonzora was not picking calls, but Mangoma maintained that the violence was a well-planned act.

Already, conflicting statements about the weekend violence could be indicative of that the party will still fail to deal with the case.

Mangoma maintained he was set up by Tsvangirai for attack by the youth. Mwonzora confirmed in his statement that Mangoma was assaulted and that the party would probe the assault, although he blames infiltration by Zanu PF as the cause.

But Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka denies his boss was complicit in Mangoma’s attack. He said the MDC-T leader’s hands were clean, claiming he actually saved the deputy treasurer-general from the restive youths.

Manyeruke’s observation that the infighting in MDC-T is a leadership issue could be true after all.


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  2. Granted, the issue of violence is a criminal offence which should be investigated and prosecuted. However the issue of balance and neutrality is Newsday’s bigger problem. The attempt to contact Mwonzora seems very very half-hearted. While you contacted Tamborinyoka you don’t seem to have updated him on your spin and your facts like you did with the Ruhanyas and other named analysts. Mongoma has exercised bad judgement and a confrontational approach from the begining. And we all know where trhat led to. To be honest he has been used as a front and the violence against him has merely furthered his point, that Tsvangirayi must go. To answer your question: have u extensively sought the answer from MDC-T as well? No

    • What is Reader smoking??? How has Mangoma been confrontational?? Writing a letter is confrontational??? There is no spin here…MDC/Tsvangirayi are showing exactly the same symptoms we have rejected in ZANU(PF)…No violence.No personality cults.No sacred cows.

      Tamborinyoka’s statement is a quote from the weekend. Imhosva yani kuti Mwonzora is unreachable?

      I reaally don’t see what Reader is saying.

      • They have internal structures for discussing these issues and when you don’t use diplomacy you provoke this kind of reaction. A story without the other side commenting on the issue and the facts at hand is un-balanced and uinfinished. If the other side is given a chance to respond and made aware of all the facts like the analysts were it becomes balanced.

        • Would you be saying the same thing if in place of Mangoma it was a Zanu PF politician who was bashed for publicly calling for President Mugabe to step down. Please be neutral and sensible.

    • reader the spin here is that Tsvangirayi,Chamisa and teresas functionaries coached the so called district chairpersons and thugs at Adelaide acres before saturday meeting .everything was planned details to follow mira chete Reader ndati mira uone maone atanga.

  3. There have been too many unresolved incidents of violence in MDC-T. It seems Tsvangirai and company are setting hoodlums against perceived political rivals. The only option for Mangoma is to report his case to the police so that the necessary arrests are made. This is the only cure for political violence.

  4. I can understand the attention you are giving MDC-T. What I can’t understand is whay aren’t you consulting them on you stories? Why aren’t they answering your calls? Because you are biased. You wish we all followed Welshman’s party. The bias is shameless. It’s a very unfortunate incident formented by Mangoma’s bad judgement throughout and Newsday is milking this. I read your Facebook post on this and the flow of opinion among readers was ignored because we couldn’t tell you what you want to hear. Avoid bias and write with balance, it’s your basic responsiblity as the media especially when serious allegations have to be made

    • Yes brother, remember who owns Newsday? They are all fighting hard to market Welshman Ncube who has teamed up with Tendai Biti, Mangoma, Job Sikhala and CIO to destroy the more popular MDC-T so that they can come back after they destroyed their petty projects. What these guys don’t even realize is that the people named above all want to be leaders so even if they succeed to destroy Tsvangirai and MDC-T they will start fighting over who shall be President and just like NCA, the same project will die. That’s why CIO is happy. I hope this post wont be blocked because Newsday is like Herald these days. Posts are blocked if they don’t hero warship their agenda.

  5. Well I agree with you Sekuru, an arrest has to me made becoz we can not have a party that talks Chinja Chinja and yet imi muchiita violance mu party menyu. is this the so called movement for democratic change? This is not democratic at all.

    • Arrests of Morgan Tsvangirai yes and this is what the junta has been fighting for all along. Now mangoma has provided them with their person. Soon Tsvangirai will be arrested.

  6. What really has happened to the good journalism of yester year. I am tired of all this subjective reporting which is obviously leading us nowhere.

  7. haaaa nxaaa mangoma ngaarohweee stupid yemunhu vakaurayisa vanhu vakawanda sitereki varume ava pavanenge vakuda kukunda voparadzana kuti vanhu varambe vachiurawa nezanu haaaa stupid mangoma ngaa rohwe sitereki

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  9. There is nothing Democratic about tsvangirai from a long distance you can see the smoke of violence he has stoking over the
    to say chamisa tsvangirai and mwonzora are political criminals is an understatement. The trio ari poisonous now Lovemore moyo wants to join the gravy train too. Anywhere guys your time is up leave those posts to others. For 15 years you have failed so why hang around and try to kill people
    Mugabe never condone violence on his party members beginning in the liberation struggle upto now
    but you are sending death squads to eliminate your subordinates
    Shame on you guys

  10. please those who are not willing to work with tsvangirai must leave in peace and let the mdc t continue fighting against zanu pf misrule.mangoma and company can go and form their own party,tsvangirai and the rest of us will not follow them

  11. uku hakuzikurohwa,inzwisa chete.muchanyatsorohwa kusvika maita mushe!it’s everywhere kuti nhubu dzinorohwa, kana kuchurch unogona kurohwa ikoko.

  12. They have internal structures for discussing these issues and when you don’t use diplomacy you provoke this kind of reaction. A story without the other side commenting on the issue and the facts at hand is un-balanced and uinfinished. If the other side is given a chance to respond and made aware of all the facts like the analysts were it becomes balanced.

  13. LOL!!!! at MDC-T supporters on this forum. When Newsday bashes ZANU(PF) with false or misleading stories munofara now they cry when the same is done to MDC-T

  14. Nhai Reader what internal structures does MDCT have for discussing such issues?

    And if Mangoma’s approach justifies him being violenced why does Tsvangirayi/MDCT complain when beaten by ZANU supporters/apoligists for saying things like “If Mugabe does not want to go we will remove him by force” to a stadium full of people when Zimbabwe as a country has ‘structures’ in place for removing the said Mugabe?

  15. Imi vakomana why crack heads, the dictum was announced for all to hear, and when he said yu all thought he was a hero….boomerang …now its “Mangoma, Madzore, Mkwananzi and Biti must go peacefully..otherwise we will remove them violently!” MDC T inobosha masuspects..,… Kwasara Tamborinyoka na Sekuru Dougie. Watch this space.

  16. MDC since it amended its constitution to suit an individual leader’s power hunger,it begun to divert from its democratic principles.Now the movement is now centered on tsvangirai,and not party policies.Tsvangirai and the MdC should realise,the party needs a next step of reformation.Oliver Tambo of ANC did it by allowing Mandela to take over.Mandela did it by allowing MbEKI and the rest to take over to pursue and complement the same party policies which the party was formed for.If he and the MdC T were to mantain their precious legacy and honour,let them hand over power to new leaders.
    Tsvangirai is a dictator!he is a power hungry monster clothed in sheepskins!I pray GOD that he never taste this nation’s presidential post.He loves dictatorship and homosexuality more than democracy and fidelity in marriage.shame on u tsvangirai!
    To Mangoma,Madzore ,Biti AND THE like minded,sorry!do unto morgan what Ndabaningi sithole was done by the revolutionaries in the 1970s!expose him

  17. And zpf is discplined no one would do wht happened last weekend pamberi paBob ndokunzi babaka.unlike vana vanoswera chemedzana pamberi pamhamha,vachingoti ndokurova without action.huvapo hwababa hunongoita kuti vana varongeke nyange painekusawirirana.ndozvatirikwedu kuzpf hapana anoitazvaanoda pamberi paBob.yenyu zvimwe ndiyo decracy hameno.kuita sebhora rinotambwa pasina muzvinapembe.kkkkkkkk munochinjei pamberi naTsvangirai Mangoma ngaarohwe titambe.we in zpf we want Tsvangirai our high to rule kusvika madhongi amera nyanga.

  18. I too don’t support violence bt surely leaders shd be responsible. What Mangoma dd n is doing is stalking flames. There are channels that he shd have used to air his views. He is a member of e NEC n national standing committee. That’s where he shd have raised those issues. Don’t expect kuti ukadenha vanhu ohwanda nekuti democracy democracy ppl will ignore u. Every1 shd be responsible for his security first b4 he blames he others. Maziwisa, Madhuku etc have been demonizing MT bt hapana akamboorohwa wani? When Madhuku realized kuti MT was dictator he simply cut relationship naye akatanga zvake ende hapana akambomubata bata. Mangoma’s behavior, utterances and choice of media to air his views ndechizanu zanu so. It wd appear he is being used by zpf to fight MT too divert public attention from e salarygate n corruption scandals. If so then he deserves more than 30 pieces of silver cos he has done it excellently Personally am not saying MT is a saint. To me, just like those saying MT must go, shd also go. What is needed is a caretaker leadership tasked to organize fresh elections where all posts are up for grabs. This is just a compromise otherwise no current leader shd contest in these elections cos they’ve all let us down. The blames shd be on all leaders collectively bt mostly on MT as e leader, Mangoma n Biti for negotiating a flawed GPA which gave too much power to zpf and w effective monitoring n policing mechanism as well as dispute resolution structures. The dysfunctionaliity of e gnu, e flawed constitution – all parties to e gnu agreed e doc was flawed and e disputed elections can be traced to the same GPA negotiated by Mangoma n Biti. It seems their strategy was to created conditions of chaos in e party which they will manipulate to seize control of e party.

  19. So who bought The Youths Sadza and beer? Did Zanu Pf buy the delegates the same food from the same company with those violent youths?So Tsvangirai waits until they satrt beating a disabled man then comes to rescue him?

  20. This has stopped to be a movement. Mangoma is part of MdC and he is intitled to his opinion. To say that those who dont want tsvangirai as leader of MDC should leave the party is also wrong because it is the same as saying if u dont want Mugabe better leave Zimbabwe. Mangoma akarohwa that isn’t good. Violence left unchecked leads to murder

  21. He could tell him face to face if he thinks the leader should go. Examples are Gordon Brown replaces Tony Blair. Thabo Mbeki replced by Zuma. There were rumours and it was all very subtle. But it happened. Cards close to chest. I am a reader of Newsday, daily. I don’t read other local papers at all because they aren’t worth it. Just pointing out journalistic obligations as I understand them.

  22. newsday is not being biased but just reporting events as they happend.when tsvangirai was campaigning to b mdc president he did so publicly and noone in mdc ever threatend him.just as much as tsvangirai could campaign freeky so do mangoma et al have a right to ask for leadership renewal publicly!democracy haina for violence in mdc,facts speak for was tsvangirai’s failure to deal with youths and their mdc godfathers who perpertrated violence against members of the then unified for democracy being in tsvangirai hameno,it was his unilateral and misinformed vetoe of the senate vote that caused the initial mdc split.and even after the split tsvangirai has always been said to take misinformed decisions because of his reliance on the so called kitchen cabinet and not once has he dispelled these allegations for welshman ncube,he left mdc kudhara after raising his reservations and started his own party, hameno kuti arikupinda papi panyaya dzekuharvest house.just because we want a new political order munyika hazvirevi kuti torega kuita thoroughly scrutinise those seeking a new dispensation nokuti tochka kuva exposer mashort comings avo,ndo democracy yacho ka iyoyo chokwadi pamberi pasina chakavigwa.

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