INTERNAL fights within the MDC-T have taken a new twist with the chairperson of the party’s Guardian Council Sekai Holland yesterday making sensational allegations that she was intimidated by “militias” into presenting a “doctored” statement.
EVERSON MUSHAVA/MOSES MATENGA
She said after their meeting, they sent the statement to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai for him to have a look and the party leader made a few changes before the information department allegedly “doctored” it to focus on discrediting the Mandel Training Centre meeting that purportedly suspended Tsvangirai and other party leaders.
“The Guardian Council wishes to categorically state that it was never involved in the planning, convening, organising and conduct of the meeting that was held at Mandel and dissociates itself from all the resolutions of that meeting,” reads part of the purportedly altered statement.
The Mandel meeting culminated in the “suspension” of party leader Tsvangirai by the rival faction led by secretary-general Tendai Biti.
However, Holland yesterday produced what she termed the original document that, unlike the “doctored” statement which appeared to side with Tsvangirai while attacking the faction led by “axed” secretary-general Tendai Biti, condemns both factions: “The meeting condemns all warring sides, and asks them to stop their behaviour that is hurting all our party members,” reads the statement.
Thus she effectively withdrew the statement she issued at Harvest House on Thursday claiming it was influenced by the party’s information department, headed by MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora.
Holland said during a stormy meeting in Harare on Thursday, it emerged that the party actually had five factions instead of the known two led by Tsvangirai and Biti.
The former co-Minister of National Healing said the situation was tense during the Press conference with youths from Harvest House creating an intimidatory atmosphere forcing her to present a “doctored” statement to avoid “causing a scene”.
“It was not our (Guardian Council) statement. I simply read the one doctored by the information department because I did not want to cause a scene. The whole place was cordoned by militia,” she said.
“Even after reading the statement yesterday [Thursday], I was tracked home by a vehicle without registration plates before my husband came to pick me up.
“When we made our deliberation exactly a year after the council met, we made it clear that we did not recognise the Mandel meeting and any other meeting that was used to suspend each other,” Holland said.
“We want the party to be united. Unfortunately, the council was dragged into the party’s factional fights. We later actually realised that there are five factions in the party and our position as the Guardian Council is that the party should reunite to form a strong opposition.”
But Mwonzora insisted Holland participated in the drafting of the statement, hence it was shocking why she was making a U-turn.
“She participated in the drafting of the Press statement in the presence of [Tsvangirai’s spokesperson] Luke Tamborinyoka, myself, [Cephas] Makuyana, [Norman] Mabhena [the latter two Guardian Council members] and herself. She read it without being forced by anyone. We are surprised by these allegations,” Mwonzora said.
“Nobody forced her to read that statement and the issue of militia is completely false. Fortunately, journalists were there and there was nothing like that. There were no youths and if she is under pressure from someone to change her statement, she can do that, but she cannot lie about other people.”
A three-page statement signed by 22 Guardian Council members out of the 24 who reportedly attended the two-day meeting acknowledged an existential crisis in the MDC-T.
The document castigated all forms of violence, suppression of freedom of expression, rumour-mongering, slander and character assassination. It called for the return to the founding values of the party, adding that all the factions were not taking heed of calls by the elders to stop the chaos.
“In spite of constant advice and repeated warnings from the Guardian Council and subsequently from the Guardian Council executive committee, party leaders have been attacking each other verbally, in the Press and even physically.
“This is in direct contradiction of the values and principles, especially Article 4.6 which states that the MDC firmly believes in freedom of speech,” the statement read.
The meeting condemned factionalism claiming it was hurting the party while negating the reality that the MDC-T project should take precedence over selfish interests.
“These unconstitutional factions must stop the bleeding caused by their fights and work to unify the party and focus on its core values once more,” the statement added.
The council urged Tsvangirai to deal decisively with violence and called for unity. It said if the party managed to unite with its worst enemy, Zanu PF, in the inclusive government, there was nothing to stop it from finding common ground.
Holland said a lot has been lined up by the council to ensure that the five warring factions would be united.
“We were shocked as Guardian Council to find that we don’t have two warring factions, we have five. That was even worse, a divided people will never win an election in Zimbabwe, never,” she said.
Holland was in the company of Mabhena, who said it was disheartening that young politicians were using youths to further their narrow political agendas and intimidate others.