HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has come out fighting against a group of ambitious top MDC party officials plotting his downfall, the Daily News on Sunday can reveal.
Party sources say Tsvangirai, the face behind the resistance to Mugabe for the past decade, has been forced to take the gloves off after learning of the plot, code-named Project 2016.
According to insiders, a clique of MDC officials who question the former trade unionist’s credentials, are plotting to de-campaign Tsvangirai in elections set for next year to ensure he does not win the poll.
One of Tsvangirai’s long standing allies, Lovemore Madhuku, who helped found the MDC, also told the Daily News on Sunday he was aware of the plot but denied widespread reports that he was part of it.
The plot, according to insiders, revolves around ensuring that Tsvangirai loses the next election and force him to step down at the party’s 2016 congress for a new leader. Tsvangirai yesterday told supporters that he will quit if he loses the next elections.
According to insiders, the MDC clique plans to push Tsvangirai out at the 2016 congress under the pretext that he has failed, having “lost” elections to President Robert Mugabe in successive elections.
The new party leader, sources said, would be charged with uniting the mainstream MDC with Industry minister Welshman Ncube’s MDC formation which broke away from the main party in 2005 and take on Zanu PF, which would most likely be without Mugabe by then.
But the crafty politician has been tipped of the plot and has spent the past few weeks warning officials against the move.
Insiders said Tsvangirai openly told members of his standing committee two weeks ago that he was aware of the plot and would not allow it.
The insiders said Tsvangirai said rebels should quit the MDC and form their own party to fulfil their ambitions.
According to insiders, Tsvangirai also told a meeting of MDC Harare provincial executives to be on the lookout for people plotting his downfall.
Insiders said the plotters have gone into hibernation after they realised Tsvangirai was moving to flush them out although the project is still at the table.
“He has been aware of a faction opposed to him for a long time but had wrongly assumed the faction leaders were only plotting their own takeover after he has voluntarily relinquished power.
He has been seething since realising that the plotters actually want his head,” said a source.
Madhuku, the chairperson of the constitutional reforms lobby group, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) confirmed the existence of the plot.
The group of plotters working to see Tsvangirai's back allegedly included senior members of the PM's team in the MDC, who were supposedly working in cahoots with ‘‘ambitious’’ civic society leaders.
Madhuku, who said he has since severed his relations with the MDC over policy and other differences, told the Daily News on Sunday that part of Tsvangirai's problems was that the MDC leader had allegedly failed to deliver on his mandate and mission.
“What we are clear about is that we have no confidence in the current leadership of the MDC to take this country where we had always wanted it to go.
“I can confirm that we have no confidence in their leadership. What is true is that we are not happy and we reserve our right as active people to say we no longer think you are doing the best thing,” Madhuku said in the interview.
However, Madhuku distanced himself from the group plotting to oust Tsvangirai, although he said he understood them and was sympathetic to their views.
“We are not made by the MDC. We were part of those who formed the MDC. So, the same inner beings that were attracted to challenge Mugabe remain the same inner beings who will be attracted to challenge these guys if they don’t deliver.
“The MDC is not the last party to be formed. I think it’s quite stupid to say (because) we formed the MDC in 1999 therefore there are no more parties that should be formed. They are not the last party; we just want to give them the real message.
“No one should cheat the MDC that people will always support them if they don’t remain in the way” he said.
But MDC organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa in dismissing the alleged plot against Tsvangirai, said Madhuku had a right to say what he wanted in a democratic Zimbabwe.
“We thank Professor Madhuku for whistle blowing and we may need to know the basis of his assertions but in the party, we are united and president Tsvangirai is the undisputed and undisputable face of the struggle and indeed the voice of our time.
“Professor Madhuku has been our partner in the struggle and the last time we checked, we were on the same page for the struggle in the struggle for change. Each time, we see him as a partner in the struggle.
“All along, we have been singing from the same hymn book, maybe now he is singing from a different book which has not been made available to us. All we are appealing for is a chorus for real change, a chorus for transformation, a chorus for freedom and a chorus for democracy.
“We have more similarities than differences with Professor Madhuku and that which unites us far exceeds what might divide us,” said Chamisa.
Although the plot to dethrone Tsvangirai, according to other MDC sources, had reached the PM's ears, he apparently remained unfazed.
Madhuku accused Tsvangirai of breaking democratic principles and said the current confusion regarding party primary elections was indicative of destructive policy somersaults and protectionism.
He said the MDC's failure to announce a “free and fair” candidate selection process was also indicative of a lack of moral power to tell sitting MPs to face the “real thing”.
“There is so much involvement of dirtiness in the whole thing. Because it’s dirty, you want to maintain a particular political class because the political class will perpetuate your stay.
“Let’s say they get defeated in the next election or they have the election stolen from them, they will still want someone to say Tsvangirai forever and ever. The only person to say that is the one who was protected from being challenged (in party primary elections)," he said.
There have been contradictory statements from the MDC on whether the party will allow sitting MPs to go through primaries.
Spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora has indicated that not all sitting MPs will face primary elections, while organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, has said there will not be sacred cows and that all MPs will have to pass the primaries’ test.
Against this background of swelling anger and his ‘‘lack’’ of asserting authority in the inclusive government, Madhuku said Tsvangirai was likely to lose next year's elections to President Robert Mugabe.
“He allowed them to reach the next election without any reform. The purpose of the inclusive government was to create a transitional arrangement at the end of which we would be able to have a stable country that can run free and fair elections.
“Tsvangirai spent the last three-and-a-half-years in an arrangement where he extracted no fundamental reforms. He will still agree to go to an election where there are no fundamental reforms. I don’t see him winning without fundamental reforms. What has been reformed? The security sector is quite intact (and) Mugabe is still having the levers of all,” Madhuku said.