Moyo absence throws Byo MDC into turmoil

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo is known as the mainstream MDC stronghold judging by how the party trounced its opponents in last year’s election, scooping all the House of Assembly seats.

With that in mind, one would have expected the party to be thriving at this moment of internal revolt but as it seems, the party’s provincial structures are on fire.

Ever since Gorden Moyo, the provincial chairman, took a controversial sabbatical, the party has never enjoyed stability.

At the onset of leadership renewal talks before the calls found their way into provinces, Moyo decided to take a sabbatical, ostensibly to concentrate on his studies.

His decision was, however, viewed in some sectors as a smart way of ducking the conflict while some quickly labelled him part of the renewal team then led by former party deputy treasurer, Elton Mangoma.

Political observers viewed Moyo’s tactical retreat from the public as a well-calculated strategy to disassociate himself from the current conflict as he watched closely which of the warring faction would be more suitable to join.

Moyo has for long time been a trusted lieutenant of MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai together with his deputy Thokozani Kuphe.

So close has been the relationship that Tsvangirai has been invited to defend him to ensure his political safety on several occasions.

At the inception of the inclusive government, Tsvangirai, through the blessings of his deputy Khupe, handpicked Moyo then a non-constituency member to the parastatals ministerial post.

As if that was not enough soon before the party’s 2011 congress held at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, claims of violence and rigging marred the provincial elections where Moyo was elected provincial chairmanship.

So closely-contested were the elections that the province was left divided into two factions, with the other one led by Senator Matson Hlalo, disputing Moyo’s election.

Despite the outcry, Tsvangirai endorsed the election.

Moyo once again courted controversy when he was surprisingly imposed on Makokoba constituency without going through the primary election as per requirement.

Khupe, who was the incumbent MP, was reportedly behind Moyo’s imposition on a constituency initially regarded as reserved for a woman under the party’s quota system.

At the end of last month, the MDC Makokoba district executive committee met and resolved to write to the provincial executive demanding Moyo’s recall over suspicion of his sympathy to the Tendai Biti-led camp.

A few days later, Khupe was forced to block efforts to suspend Moyo during a provincial meeting.

A day after the meeting, Albert Mhlanga, the provincial organising secretary, went to Harare where upon his return he claimed Tsvangirai had given the nod for Moyo’s recall.

Tsvangirai said there was no way he could be seen opposing his deputy, adding that no position can be taken on Moyo since he is on leave and that he was not part of the Mandel Training Centre meeting that plotted to dethrone Tsvangirai.

His delay in declaring his position has apparently threatened to further divide the party in the second largest city.

This has seen some senior provincial party members including acting chairperson Dorcas Sibanda and Albert Mhlanga positioning themselves for a takeover in the event Moyo is sacked.

Political analysts who spoke to this paper said Moyo is an influential figure in Matabeleland region.

Englestone Sibanda said the Moyo issue should be handled carefully as he is an influential figure in the second largest city who commands a significant following within the civil society.

“The MDC is in dire straits. Whatever decision they make on Moyo who is being careful on which side to take will affect the party one way or the other,” Sibanda said.

“The handling of the Moyo issue can create problems for the party bearing in mind that he is no push over. He is very influential in Bulawayo. Remember he has influence in quite a number of civil society organisations in the city that contributed immensely towards the 2008 elections and the party’s victory in Bulawayo in 2013,” he said.

Another political analyst Dumisani Nkomo said: “I think Moyo is a very intelligent politician who acts in a measured way and he will measure his response and actions. He is quite an astute politician from my experience and it may not always be wise to underestimate him.”

He said the fact that Moyo had remained silent in light of the ensuing commotion in the party makes it difficult to take any decision for or against him.

“He has left people guessing, with many accusing him of being part of the renewal team but the problem is that he has not made any statement nor did he attend the Mandel meeting,” Nkomo said.

“So it may be difficult to fire him on conjecture. In his absence there are clear actions for and against him but he has cleverly sidestepped internal politics. You will realise it may not be about him creating fissures but that the problem is bigger than that I should think.”

Thomas Sithole said the absence of Moyo has been the centre of the circus that has dogged the Tsvangirai-led party.

“His sabbatical has left Bulawayo with no political head,” he said. “This has manifested itself in the confusion that has epitomised the party of late. It has however been a blessing in disguise as his absence has left him untainted by the current fiasco and circus that has become a hallmark of his party.”

He said chances were high that upon the end of his leave, Moyo will choose to follow the bigger camp.

“There are chances that he will go with Tsvangirai so as to keep his position as chairman as well as MP,” Sithole said.

“Currently, he is one of the few politicians from Matabeleland who has the mandate from the people hence, naturally, he could be eyeing better perks than he currently has.

The challenge, though, is convincing the people and Tsvangirai himself that he is still loyal to the party and its leadership given the view from some that he sympathises with the renewal team.”


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