HARARE - After months of frenzied speculation and strenuous denials, MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti came out in the open yesterday on his long reported opposition to party president Morgan Tsvangirai.
Always believed to be the main player behind the so-called renewal team, Biti was part of the faction that moved yesterday to “suspend” Tsvangirai and other senior MDC leaders such as vice-president Thokozani Khupe, national chairman Lovemore Moyo, organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and spokesman Douglas Mwonzora after a meeting of the rebels.
Yesterday’s dramatic developments also played out as another damning dossier surfaced claiming that a group of Rhodies, comprising mainly disillusioned former commercial farmers, was heavily involved in the alleged multi-pronged plot to destroy Tsvangirai and effect illegal leadership change in the MDC.
The move not only heralds the official split of the feuding MDC factions but, it is also set to shake down the opposition party to its core, amid fears that the party may implode altogether as the combatants engage in a brutal political and legal war over who is in charge of both the party and its assets.
The rebels’ meeting was chaired by maverick party elder and legislator Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, who announced the suspensions, as well as the annulling of the suspensions of various party members, including the expelled deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma.
The rebel’s guardian council also announced that another party elder, Sekai Holland, would now take charge of the affairs of the party and prepare it for an elective congress.
But it was Biti who hogged the limelight yesterday, and he was the one to announce that Tsvangirai would be charged with violation of the party’s constitution as well as bringing the party into disrepute.
“Dear leader Morgan Tsvangirai has failed as a leader, is now clearly unsuitable, has failed and we now do not recognise him as a member of either the national standing committee or any other organ of the party. We as the democratic group with the MDC have resolved to use our constitutional right and dis-associate ourselves from this group,” Biti told yesterday’s Press conference in Harare.
Biti was also mandated with writing to Parliament to notify the speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, that “no parliamentarian or councillor would be fired unless there was in the constitution of the MDC a clause that called for recalls.
“The will of the povo (people) that voted in these officials shall remain supreme up to the end of their terms,” Biti said.
A fresh dossier obtained by the Daily News on Sunday says that former Rhodesians have mobilised “huge amounts of money” which is being channelled through clandestine structures to oust Tsvangirai and take over control of the party, in subversive initiatives that effectively compliment other anti-Tsvangirai “missions” allegedly involving Zanu PF, Central Intelligence Organisation operatives and some Western donors.
Quoting one of the former farmers who was involved in the missions until a fall-out among the plotters, who allegedly include senior MDC leaders (names provided), led to the farmer’s unceremonious departure, the report says the Rhodies were agitating for a violent uprising in Zimbabwe, which Tsvangirai was completely opposed to.
“However, after finding (that) Tsvangirai has remained adamant on the need to continue pursuing peaceful democratic means, the ex-Rhodesians started searching for an alternative (leadership).
“Information revealed by sources directly involved shows that a plan was mooted in 2010 to identify an avenue that would lead to effecting leadership change in the MDC, following agreement among the ex-Rhodesians group that by going into a coalition government with Zanu PF, the Tsvangirai leadership had buried any possibility of it leading a violent uprising.
“The conclusion was that Tsvangirai as an individual was the major stumbling block and ... (name supplied) was considered to be more radical as well as willing to pursue the agenda of confronting Zanu PF through violent means or a hard line stance,” the dossier says.
These schemes, the report adds, fitted wittingly and unwittingly into a long-term project by Zanu PF aimed at manipulating political processes in the country, as well as the ouster of Tsvangirai from the leadership of the MDC — as President Robert Mugabe’s party recognised that Tsvangirai was a real political threat.
Speaking at the Harare press conference, Biti said the purported suspensions of Tsvangirai, Khupe, Chamisa, Mwonzora, Morgen Komichi, Abednigo Bhebhe and Moyo had been effected because the MDC had abandoned its original values and principles of social democracy, justice, equality, liberty, transparency, non-violence, constitutionalism and servant leadership.
“We have come to the conclusion that the party has been hijacked by a dangerous fascist clique bent on destroying the same and totally working against the working people of Zimbabwe.
“We draw a line with our former colleagues in the use of parallel structures, including the use of vigilantes, kitchen cabinets and other informal means of transacting the business of the democratic party.
“No to the incorporation of Zanu PF traits that we ran away from. We pledge our commitment to a depersonalised struggle. The party has been personalised and privatised,” he said.
Sipepa Nkomo said: “We were saddened that the violence that we used to know from Zanu PF had creeped into our party when they began tormenting and torturing people by purging their chairperson and other officials in the provinces and the reason is that they were preparing for congress so that they can remove those they think will not vote for them because they love power so much”.
Speaking in Gutu yesterday ahead of Biti’s Harare Press conference,
Tsvangirai said: “We have those who are calling for me to step down.
“But why me and why are they putting a price to the struggle. The struggle is not all about money. I know that MDC is not all about
Tsvangirai but if you feel I must go do it through the proper procedures.”