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Whither MDC-T, Tsvangirai?


MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s recent attempts to gloss over the deep-seated internal fights by announcing a hashed truce have backfired as more fierce fissures have erupted soon after his so-called ceasefire call.


Tsvangirai at an MDC-T rally in Zhombe
Tsvangirai at an MDC-T rally in Zhombe

Several analysts interviewed by NewsDay yesterday said they saw it coming as the opposition leader had stoked the fires by sweeping the flames under the carpet instead of tracing down and addressing the root cause.

Political analyst Alexander Rusero said Tsvangirai’s unity call, which came following a massive purge on MDC-T members perceived to be campaigning for leadership renewal, was simply a cosmetic make-up meant to deceive the outside world and portray him as a unifier.

“The show of unity as announced by Tsvangirai is not helping matters as the situation on the ground points to a continuous attempt to purge the so-called rebels,” Rusero said.

“The unity was simply a form of political posturing to parade Tsvangirai as a unifier, but the real problems in the MDC-T are not resolved. Tsvangirai has refused to be pragmatic; he wants people who flatter him. The situation has become worse than before he announced the unity.”

The fights came to the public glare in mid-February following the assault on suspended deputy-treasurer-general Elton Mangoma over charges of calling on Tsvangirai to step down.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti denounced both the suspension and attack on Mangoma, effectively drawing battlelines in the sand against Tsvangirai’s sympathisers.

Since then, several provincial party leaders perceived as sympathetic to Mangoma and Biti have been labelled traitors and kicked out of office. The fights have been more pronounced in Harare, Chitungwiza, Manicaland, Mashonaland West, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North provinces.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political analyst Charity Manyeruke said: “Besides purporting to be in agreement, the MDC-T will never be the same again. When the situation is like this, you will not know what an individual is up to. Worse still, infighting has continued even after the announcement of unity.

“Generally, the MDC-T is very weak at the moment. The unity is not holding,” Manyeruke said.

Another political analyst Ernest Mudzengi said if infighting continued in the former labour-backed party, the unity would simply be tantamount to political grandstanding.

“What we have seen is more suspensions. This is not in line with the spirit of unity. This will not help the MDC-T. We continue to see developments that are not in the spirit or letter of what Tsvangirai said. The developments on the ground do not tally with the announcement.”

Organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, who is believed to be stoking the fires to position himself as Tsvangirai’s successor, admitted in a recent interview that the fissures had dented the party’s image.

“There has to be sanity in the cockpit, discipline in the ranks and order in the structures. I have a duty to make sure we work as one and our structures are in harmony, not just shooting from the hip,” Chamisa said.

“I want to assure you that we won’t brook purging or targeting individuals for their own opinions, we are a democratic party. The party is not a banana republic, it’s not a beehive, it’s a party of excellency and things are done procedurally. We have no reports from the provinces, but we say no to purging and no to victimisation.

Analysts said the squabbles were being oiled by the party’s opaque succession plan with Biti and Chamisa reportedly jostling to land the party presidency.

However, both have publicly dissociated themselves from the alleged rival factions. Tsvangirai, too, has been blamed for stoking the fires by refusing to step down or at least allow free dialogue on his successor. The alleged rebels last week hinted that the opposition party was headed for another split, citing irreconcilable differences with Tsvangirai.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare, the rebels’ spokesperson Jacob Mafume said: “The country needs a strong alternative political party that is able to save the people of Zimbabwe from the current crisis.

“Regrettably, just like Zanu PF, the current MDC that is led by Morgan Tsvangirai has failed to provide that leadership which is capable of resolving the national crisis.

“Post-July 31, the MDC has remained internally focused and as such has failed to come up with a national strategy that deals with the stolen election and resolve the economic challenges facing the people of Zimbabwe.”

Mafume, who used to be a director in the former Prime Minister’s Office, accused Tsvangirai’s executive of “exhibiting a serious departure from its core responsibility of articulating alternative policies and providing solutions to the national crisis”.

He also said: “Added to this, the MDC led by Tsvangirai has exhibited a serious departure from its core values as evidenced by the use of violence, a blatant disregard of the party’s constitution, intolerance, personification of the people’s struggle, Zanufication of the party processes and undemocratic approaches to decision-making.”

The split would be the party’s second in its 15-year history after the 2005 clashes which saw several key leaders pulling out to form their own parties citing irreconcilable differences with the former trade unionist leader.

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