Sunday, 27 April 2014

MDC-T factions cross swords, Tsvangirai group digs in, Go to court, Biti camp dares Tsvangirai

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MDC-T leaders crossed swords yesterday with a faction led by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, claiming it was still in charge of the opposition party despite suspensions announced by secretary- general Mr Tendai Biti on Saturday.
Suspended spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora addressed a press conference at Harvest House yesterday where he dismissed the suspensions saying various organs of the party would meet today and tomorrow to map the way forward.

A meeting of the national standing committee has been called today while ‘‘a properly constituted’’ national executive and council are expected to meet tomorrow.

The MDC-T national council met at Mandel Training Centre on Saturday with 136 national council members out of 176 voting to suspend Mr Tsvangirai and his inner circle of party vice president Ms Thokozani Khupe, national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo, deputy national chairman Mr Morgen Komichi, national organising secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa, his deputy Abednico Bhebhe and spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora.

MDC-T factions cross swords, Tsvangirai group digs in, Go to court, Biti camp dares Tsvangirai
Mr Tsvangirai’s camp said Mr Biti and his cronies had officially formed another political party and legislators who participated in the Mandel meeting faced recall from Parliament.

Mr Biti’s group, however, dug in describing the Harvest House presser as a “circus of suspended persons|.
With the impasse, the MDC-T effectively found itself in October 2005, when then secretary-general Professor Welshman Ncube suspended Mr Tsvangirai from the party on similar charges before the latter resorted to violence to maintain a stranglehold on the party that effectively carried his surname as a suffix thereafter.

Mr Biti led a team of members, most who have been calling for leadership renewal in the party to a meeting at Mandel Training Centre in Harare that came up with the suspensions.

Notable members who were part of the Mandel declaration included secretary of the guardian council Mr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, who immediately took over the chairmanship in an acting capacity. The Guardian Council of elders assumes the leadership of the party until the next congress.

Mr Elton Mangoma (deputy treasurer-general), Mr Solomon Madzore, Paul Madzore, lawyer Jacob Mafume, Mr Ian Kay, Mr Tongai Matutu, Evelyn Masaiti, Sekai Holland, Mr Promise Mkwananzi and Last Maengahama also attended the meeting.

Others were National Assembly members Moses Manyengavana, Willas Madzimure, Bekithemba Nyathi and Watchy Sibanda.
Following the announcement of the suspensions, some members of Mr Tsvangirai’s camp had to leave rallies in Buhera to hold a Press conference, which was described by Mr Biti’s camp as a “circus of suspended people”.
Mr Chamisa spent the better part of the morning seeking legal advice from a prominent Harare lawyer on how to deal with the “bombshell”.
Supporters aligned to Mr Tsvangirai waited for the outcome of the media briefing at Harvest House while singing and chanting slogans that denounced Mr Biti.

Mr Mwonzora told reporters that Mr Biti had no powers to organise national council meetings, describing his actions as an “awkward attempt at coup d’├ętat by people spineless to stand a congress”.

Mr Biti’s camp hit back yesterday, arguing that if Mr Tsvangirai was not happy with the suspensions, he should approach the courts because any meeting he convenes will be illegal.

The MDC-T elective congress is slated for 2016 but Mr Tsvangirai’s camp is pushing for an early congress.
Said Mr Mwonzora: “They have formally formed a party which they are failing to find a name for, but is a political party nevertheless and they have to face the consequences.

“The meeting that was convened can never pass as a meeting of the national council of the MDC both because of the manner in which it was convened and its composition.

“The powers of the secretary-general of the party are spelt out in Article 9.5 and he can only exercise more power than he has only where he has been authorised by the president, the national executive or the national council.”

He said 33 out of 195 members of the national council had attended the Mandel meeting, but Mr Biti’s camp said 138 standing committee, executive and council members out of 176 members endorsed the suspensions.

Mr Mwonzora described Mr Biti as an “opportunist with selective memory” adding that the venue (Mandel) never hosted national executive and council meetings.

Mr Mafume responded: “We do not mind about the Harvest House, it is not the symbol of the party and is not even in the constitution of the party.

“Meetings can be convened anywhere. The Lancaster House conference that ushered in Zimbabwe’s first Constitution was held in London, while talks that created the GNU were also at times held in South Africa. The problem is they are using incompetent lawyers, one of them (Mr Chamisa) is a trainee lawyer and there is nothing as dangerous as using such a person. Mwonzora’s only success is against his own clients, he has been in and out of the court. They have no locus standi in calling for such meetings until their suspension is lifted. If they are not happy with that they should go to court.”

Mr Mafume said Mr Tsvangirai had been suspended using Section 12 of the MDC constitution adding that he was informed of the meeting but decided not to attend.

“It (constitution) reads that if you want to suspend a national council member, the national council must vote with a two-thirds majority and once they vote, the person is automatically suspended.

“The secretary-general called the national council and they decided to go on a frolic instead of attending that crucial meeting, conducting rally tourism.”

Mr Mwonzora also claimed that hired non-portfolio party youths and members from Prof Ncube’s party voted in the meeting.
MDC spokesperson Mr Nhlanhla Dube said the MDC-T should take responsibility of their action than dragging everyone in their fights.

“The constant resorting to scapegoats and imagining Welshman Ncube as the proverbial hyena behind every bush is not going to assist Mwonzora’s party find answers to the glaring reasons behind the winds which threaten to tear the ‘big tent’ apart,” he said.

Mr Biti, whom Mr Mwonzora said “approbates and reprobates”, would know his fate tomorrow after “various structures and organs of the party meet”.

“He preaches and breaches the constitution,” Mr Mwonzora said.
“A properly constituted national executive and council will meet on Tuesday and their decision is final.”

He said members from Mr Biti’s constituency, Harare East, had petitioned the party to expel him.
“He said he would write to the Speaker of Parliament asking for a dispensation for those nine legislators not to be recalled,” Mr Mwonzora said.

“Mr Biti you can breach the constitution of the party but you are not at liberty to breach the constitution of the country.
“If a person ceases to be a member of a political party it means that party has to recall him from Parliament.”

This is not the first time that the Mr Tsvangirai has been suspended by the MDC-T.
In 2005 Mr Tsvangirai was suspended on similar allegations.
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