Bennett wants Tsvangirai to quit

HARARE - Exiled senior Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) official Roy Bennett has called for a new leadership of the troubled opposition party, suggesting that Morgan Tsvangirai’s continued stay in power did not reflect the will of the people.

Delivering a sharp assessment in an interview with Business Day, he was at odds with the rest of the MDC’s top brass, who have endorsed the opposition leader.

Tsvangirai has had the MDC change its constitution, which limits the leader to only two terms, saying he would stay on as party president for as long as the rank and file wanted him to.

“Tsvangirai has served two terms and is nearly completing a third,” Bennett said. “Deep introspection needs to be undertaken by our national collective leadership, not for purposes of looking for scapegoats, but for our party to reinvigorate its leadership with a leadership which reflects the will of our people.”

Bennett, who served eight months of a one-year jail sentence in Zimbabwe after coming to blows with then Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa in 2004 during a parliamentary debate, has been living in exile in South Africa for the past three years.

He fled to South Africa in September 2010 before the Zanu PF government could arrest him on renewed charges of treason.

Efforts to have him return to Zimbabwe to take the deputy minister of Agriculture position given to him by the MDC in the unity government, were sabotaged by President Robert Mugabe.

Bennett has remained a key figure and strong fundraiser for the party, having been re-elected treasurer-general in absentia at the MDC’s congress in 2011.

“Regrettably, some within our leadership, as is the case with many political parties, do not wish the grassroots democratic will of the people to prevail,” he said.

Party insiders say Bennett’s questioning of Tsvangirai’s leadership has brought to the surface the “unspoken differences and disgruntlement” that has been brewing in MDC structures for some time.

The fissures also surfaced during the party’s election campaign, with allegations being made of imposed candidates and factionalism.

The Manicaland executive absconded from Tsvangirai’s “star rally” in the province in protest against his imposition of candidates there. It remains unclear if Tsvangirai will seek a fourth term as party leader. His spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka on Tuesday said the prerogative (for an extended term) was in the hands of the party and the elective congress due to take place in 2016.

“The congress will determine that, but so far it has reaffirmed the position of Tsvangirai as party leader.”

However, political analyst Simukai Tinhu said a further manipulation of the party constitution to cushion Tsvangirai’s presidency bid would set off alarm bells and provide cannon fodder to his political opponents.

“ Tsvangirai has already once amended his party’s constitution to allow him to have a third term as leader.

“Hanging on to the MDC leadership for yet another term would no doubt provide ammunition to Zanu PF, which could paint him as hypocritical, while Western supporters would no doubt find it more difficult to back a man engaging in undemocratic practices within his own party,” said Tinhu.

While asking for a reinvigoration of the party,  Bennett pointed out that the MDC still enjoyed support at grassroots levels and ruled out the possibility of a fresh split in the party.

“There might be differences at leadership level, as … in most democratic political parties, but at grassroots levels the MDC continues to be strong and united.”

Meanwhile, the MDC is scheduled to hold its 14th anniversary celebrations at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on Saturday.

A defiant Tsvangirai intimated that he would keep his grip on power and said: “For 14 years, the MDC has fought a brutal dictatorship using democratic means and will not relent. We are here to stay.”

Tamborinyoka said the event would celebrate the founding of the MDC.

Comments (34)

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Vada - 12 September 2013

I told you so about Tsvangirai, its better to bring together Mbiti (Biti) and Welman, Dabengwa and Makoni and see what comes out of it. We can then have a local brewed political party

NANSI LENDODA - 12 September 2013

@Nansi- I am afraid I can not agree the four names you mention above are just like me here a group of men looking for a man with traction and vision to lead them, that man might not be Tsvangirayi but it is DEFINITELY none of the above.

gutter poet - 12 September 2013

Tsvangirai has failed the party, he is inconsistent, a very weak character who cannot think independently taking advise from any fool. He has failed to build a strong advisory team around him insteady relying on close inexperienced associates. He should have learnt something by interacting with Mr Mugabe in the last 5 years but never learnt even the simplest things like talking policy direction. Ngaabve! The purpose of a leader is talk of concrete and confirmed policy positions iye unongobwazhauka pese pese achisiya kutswaga vanhu vanotaura where you have unclear issues. Ngachienda or we might as well join Zanu PF

guvhu pazhe - 12 September 2013

A leader who changes the constitution to create opportunity for perpetuation of power is wrong! A "party" constitution which limits democracy by insisting on limited terms is also wrong! The way forward for party politics is simply to entrench democracy whether on paper or in practice! Putting funny protest driven closes in the constitution to try and fight dictators does not protect democracy but destroys it, because dictators will just change the constitution, or when they can't change it they will rig the elections and use the army to legitimise their stolen power!

What & Constitutions! - 12 September 2013

all people do not want tsvangirai as a leader hence they rejected the MDC electorally, also the MDC should not be anti-Zimbabwe economically, politically, socially and religiously.

willard sibanda - 12 September 2013

I feel pity for all those who support Bennett's idea not bcoz i am an MT loyalist or fanatic but because you seem to have been embedded in your brains that chese chataurwa neMURUNGU ndizvo. I guarantee you that had it been said by Biti or any one of the black MDC activists people would be baying for that person's blood. Bennett, in his exile stance, is just seeking relevance and if you read in between the lines he is actually telling you that black people cannot manage affairs. I will never consent to the idea that MURUNGU ataura so lets listen. MDC can exist without Bennett. MDC is the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. He should quit and see if anyone will miss him. And if he is harboring an thoughts of being the Leader i will put a million bucks on the block and say that Bennett akamira apa Tsvangirai apa he will get less than Welshaman's peanuts. Taurai henyu about Morgan but just accept that the millions see his face when you talk of MDC. This naive gentleman should form his own MDC-B tomboona hedu. Suka lapa.

Chihombe Madala - 12 September 2013

Benett rubbhish. a serous struggle like the one spearheaded by Tsvangirai is personified. Mugabe had trouble to get accepted. Nelson Mandela is the symbol of apartheid and until the struggle is finished that person remains so. the same with zpf, without mugabe its finished. the welshmen ncube faction tried to but failed dismally. Bennett might as well form another party without Tsvangirai and lets if he succeeds.

gwabu - 12 September 2013

@MDC as a political party ,i personally have lost respect to tsvangirai as a leader ,he has been at the helm of mdc and as a leader there is no significant change that we saw under his leadership,roy is very right its time for change in the mdc

dube 1 - 12 September 2013

To hell with Bennet,if if he is finding it tough to make it,then he can go hang a million times.Our Party MDC T is for arrogant people like Bennet.He should just quit and go.Yes no one is bigger than the Party but in this case Morgan Tsvangirai is.We the youth have already endorsed him to rule forever like Mugabe is to Zanu pf.There is no one who is going to remove Tsvangirai,apa tatopanduka zvamuchese Mr Bennet.

josefa chinotimba - 12 September 2013

Gwabu i like your thinking.. that's a good angle to look at it. Bennett shld put on the shoes of the struggling masses and feel their way of thinking. They see Morgan's face in the MDC. The millions voted for MPs they had never seen because of Morgan Tsvangirai. Despite his weaknesses his party supporters see him as the symbol of Hope who will deliver them unto to the promised land. This technical analysis of leadership will appeal to the 'intellectuals' not the common man. Why do you think Mugabe with all the praise he has for Jonathan moyo, will never have him as his running mate or campaign bossom buddy. Jono is an English minded African technocrat and that won't appeal to the ordinary povo. Kana asingade ngaaende tione kuti inofa here party. This is a struggle. MDC are not in power yet. Until the struggle is won then you start counting MT's day.

Chihombe Madala - 12 September 2013

Its a pitty Bennett wants a jambanja type of a leader. Morgan is a very good and peaceful leader, and we Zimbabweans want that. We did not loose this election at all. When the results were announced, the stock market nose dived, there was panic withdrawal on banks. This is just a sign that, the market was hoping for a very good leader & that leader is Morgan. This loss was not for Morgan, but for Zimbabweans. This election was not even won, but it was rigged. Hate him or like him, Morgan is the face of Zimbabwean democracy. Zimbabwe is not for opportunists, but for those who want to earn a living through honest means. What is it that needs to be done for Zimbabwe that Morgan has not done. Give him a fair ground and he will win resoundingly. As long as the playing field is not level, Mugabe will always "win". I will leave you with this very correct quote, 'The issue on elections in Zimbabwe have never been about the dates, but creating an environment and system conducive to holding free and fair elections. Unfortunately this environment has eluded us. To Bennett, I say please feel free to form your own political party and sink into oblivion

Mabweadziva - 12 September 2013

Tsvangirai is our symbol of resistance. Can Bennet give us suggestions. Unseating Tsvangirai and making noises about his leadership is just a propaganda campaign to destabilise MDC. This ploy is not working considering the opinions of the masses. The educated sometimes get embroiled in book theories that may not be relevant to political landscape. If we had a 'true' democracy all this nonsense of Nikuv would not have happened and we all would be busy driving our country forward. We all the cheating that went on on 31 July forget about unseating Tsvangison. Try a referendum among party supporters and you will see that Bennet's agenda is misplaced. If he is tired, he must rest.

Mavara Azarevhu - 12 September 2013

Daily News, why do you always lift other newspapers' stories. Why not interview Bennet yourselves and break the stories. You are reactive. Look at what Fingaz did today. They have a full interview with Bennet? Where is Munyuki's Interview today?

James - 12 September 2013

@James, have you noticed at all how many Daily News stories are either lifted or followed up by other news organisations, locally and internationally? You don't expect the newspaper to have every story possible, or do you? How practical is that?

Magagula - 12 September 2013

mukoma BENE makurasika saWelsh saColtart. Taikudai but takuzokurambai manje. Toputsa musha wedu kuti Zanu yakaba igopembera.

dicks john - 12 September 2013

benet akuda kufadza zanu kuti awane kudzoka kuzimbabwe. Pamberi naMORGEN

takudzwa - 12 September 2013

three million voted Tsvangirai ,zanu stole elections, what Bennet?

blazo - 12 September 2013

no no no mr.Bennet. we want to maintain the winning team including you. did Nikuv give you wine to drink as tea? whats wrong with you brother Pachedu?

PACHEDU R.B - 12 September 2013

IF YOU WANT to succeed like ZANU pf, keep the dead wood . Zanu pf did it and they going forward despite the vote theft. if MDC-T wants to kill the party they can go for restructuring in the name of democracy.

DEmocracy - 12 September 2013

Typical Zimbabwean discussion - the first thing is ndiyani ataura and not focusing on the idea. Yet the same story says Bennet's statement has "brought to the surface the “unspoken differences and disgruntlement” that has been brewing in MDC structures for some time." The people in these structures are predomiantly, if not all, black MDC members. So put race aside and have mature debates about ideas. Leadership renewal is not a concept invented by Bennet.

spraga - 12 September 2013

tsvangirai is an assert for Zanu-PF zvakanaka zvaka daro

myopia - 12 September 2013

I THINK THE ISSUE IS NOT ABOUT TSVANGIRAYI. IT IS A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY. WE MUST ALL TAKE STOCK OF WHAT WHAT WE COULD DO TO WIN AS TEAM MDC. YOU AND SHOULD PLAY OUR PART. THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO CHANGE LEADERSHIP BUT TO STRATEGISE AND GO DOWN TO WARD LEVEL AND ORGANISE. BENNET SHOULD NOT ACT OUT OF FRUSTRATION AS every is frustrated but we should not lose hope. This enemy is cunning and may want the MDC to break up. Five years is not very far guys.Victory is insight so ALLUTA CONTINUA

RAYMOND MHLANGA - 12 September 2013

If Tsvangirai believes in the gospel of democracy that he have been preaching for years he should simply respect party rules and do the right thing GO PEACEFULLY or he will be REMOVED VIOLENTLY

muzukuru - 12 September 2013

guys kubvisa tsvangirai kubvisa mdc munyika tsvangs anobva chete kana party yake yahwina .he who says he must resign like benett is a sell out do'nt entertain fools or pple of double standard kana akabadharwa enda unodzorera mari yevanhu nguva ichiripo.save forever brother bennet i thing something demonic is upon you surely you need deliverance don't spark unnecessary debates on face book trying to alienate yo fellow wite zimbabweans .tsvangs kusvika tawhinha bennet be better advised than to expose yo ill thoughts

maisvokwadzo - 13 September 2013

Guys, lets face mafacts. Why change constitution if you are a real democracy. These tendencies show that MDC has potential of manupulating the constitution in future. Are you saying there is noone other than MT who can lead the party effectively? What you are showing the world is you not any different from those who you want to unseat. why doesnt the MDC coming up with a clear succession of leaders whilst maintaining the same interests of ushering a democracy in ZIM? Guys lets face the facts do the right thing and put confidence in people that you are capable, leave external influence and come up with mature home grown manifestos ..... you can win the elections if you really convince people beyond doubt. What we see now casts doubt of ushering new ZIM...Tatenda

Mature - 13 September 2013

The only person in Mdc with equal charisma to take out Mugabe is Bennert himself. Think about it guys. Bennert for President

Realo - 13 September 2013

Richard Morgan Tsvangirai is still our President. If it took An armed Mugabe 17years to be in power then Morgan needs 40 years to try.

Fanziman - 13 September 2013

Richard Morgan Tsvangirai is still our President. If it took An armed Mugabe 17years to be in power then Morgan needs 40 years to try.

Fanziman - 13 September 2013

Mr Bennet has a valid point if you can't reform your own party structures how do you expect to make change in a country. Its time for a real change starting from within and Tsvangirai must retire with honor and leave the post to the warm blooded. Take Bennet's word you will see MDC improving

senator - 13 September 2013

If you listen to Pachedu (Bennett) talk with Violet Gonda you will surely realize that he is a principled leader who doesn't take sides or align himself much to party politics but national Interests first. Hail Bennett

senator - 13 September 2013

Gentleman dont fool each other by saying bennett ndizvo. he mhight have a noble idea as you see it but go down to the people. Itai referundum muone kuti the Zimbabwean population will not accept Murungu leading them ever again. Murikukanganwa kwakabav vanhu nhai...??? Its not a bout race... How long did it take for black man to be President in the Western Countries? So do you think vanhu vakanganwa here? Put his face up for a party symbol timboseka hedu.

Chihombe Madala - 13 September 2013

Mature, "home grown manifestos", really? That's ZANU (PF) rhetoric. i blv that there's nothin wrong with a manifesto or concept or even a constitution with foreign origins as ong as it addresses our issues. ZANU (PF) leaders themselves always tok abt how a certain idea or concept worked in Malaysia, Brazil, Singapore or China b4 they implement it. Zimbos u have become too academic for nothing, a certain Mzansi friend told me so

Just Observer - 13 September 2013

I am an MDC supporter, but will soon switch over to Zanu pf if Tsvangirai remain as the Mdc president. Va Tvsangirai intelligence chaidzo hamuna and you are not material for presidency. Shevedzai Simba Makoni or Welshman Ncube to lead this people's party.

toots - 18 September 2013

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