OPEN rebellion has erupted in the MDC-T, where party spokesperson Obert Gutu has rubbished the MDC Alliance and vowed to contest for the Harare East seat in defiance of his leader, Morgan Tsvangirai’s directive to reserve the seat for People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Gutu has publicly declared that he will not respect the MDC Alliance pact and would not back down from Harare East, challenging Biti to a duel.
“I am a democrat to the bare bones. I’m not going to buckle! Never! Ever! The people shall decide! There will definitely be a challenge! Trust me! I’m not backing down! Never! Ever,” he wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.
The statements were reportedly discussed at an MDC-T national standing committee meeting yesterday, with Gutu being given an ultimatum to either respect Tsvangirai or pack his bags.
Sources, who attended the meeting, said action could be taken if he continued to disrespect the party’s hierarchy.
“We have given the standing committee time to deal with this chaos at the top, especially Gutu, and if they don’t, then the vanguard will take action,” a senior MDC-T official said.
“The meeting was clear that the MDC is part of the alliance and everything will be respected.”
Another source said those opposed to a coalition were growing in confidence, as they believed Tsvangirai was on the verge of retiring from politics owing to ill health.
“Their narrative seems to be clear: Push Tsvangirai out and pull MDC-T out of the alliance. This is why such bold statements are now being made by these people in public,” the source said.
Gutu declined to shed light on what happened at the Harvest House meeting, only saying it was a successful meeting with “fantastic and extremely fruitful deliberations”.
The former Justice deputy minister said he respected Tsvangirai, and his actions were not intended to undermine his leader.
“Why should we discuss, in public, internal party deliberations? What I can tell you is, I respect my party leadership and I seek in no way to undermine them,” he said.
Tsvangirai’s deputy, Thokozani Khupe, who reportedly enjoys Gutu and secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora’s support, did not attend the meeting.
Some party officials had said they would move a motion to censure or fire Khupe if she did not attend, but it is not clear if they did so at yesterday’s meeting.
MDC-T acting president, Elias Mudzuri, said the MDC-T respected the pact it entered into with other political parties and would process internal remedies to deal with fissures in the party.
“We don’t want to continue in the public domain with issues like these. There are internal processes that will be followed and if ultimatums were given, they are not for the public domain,” he told NewsDay.