Tsvangirai extends olive branch to 'rebels'

HARARE - The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC — which has extended an olive branch to a rival faction — yesterday said the breakaway splinter groups should renounce their rebellion.

This comes as the MDC is seeking the expulsion of 21 legislators from the House of Assembly for defecting from the party.

The recall flies in the face of unity overtures by Tsvangirai, who claims the big tent will go a long way in ousting President Robert Mugabe from power.

There are also fears that the action is a display of power politics by political leaders at the expense of a transformative agenda.

Analysts say the biggest beneficiaries of this confusion will be Zanu PF because there was no way the 21 MP’s would oppose them in parliament on issues over reforms and dealing with the liquidity crunch facing the country.

Jacob Mafume, spokesperson of the MDC renewal team said they were shocked that at a time when Zimbabweans were trying to find common ground for building national convergence and national consensus, their erstwhile colleagues, who he said were suspended on April 26, 2014 by the party’s National Council at Mandel Training Centre and subsequently expelled by a legitimate tribunal on June 27, 2014, are now engaged in a futile attempt to recall democratically elected Members of Parliament.

“While it is common cause that the Speaker of Parliament has already made a determination that the matter of who constitutes the legitimate leadership of the party, we wish to make it unequivocally clear that there is only one secretary-general of the Party and that is Tendai Biti and until a legitimate congress is held, only he can write to the Speaker of Parliament or any other body on MDC matters,” Mafume said.

“These actions by our erstwhile colleagues show that they are now in bed with Zanu PF because the net effect of them recalling MDC MPs is that they are knowingly donating these seats to Zanu PF on a silver platter, given the fact that they have declared that they will not participate in any election in the absence of electoral reforms, which reforms have not happened.

“The fact that they are expending so much energy on having legitimately elected Members of Parliament expelled clearly demonstrates their narrow-mindedness and vindictive approach to politics, and this is the reason why those of us in the renewal camp decided to exercise our right to disassociate.

“Is it not ironic that the same colleague who is preaching his so-called ‘Big Tent’ politics is the same man who is fighting tooth and nail to make sure that Zanu PF ends up with an unchallenged dominance in Parliament?”

Obert Gutu, spokesperson of the MDC, sprang to the defence of the party, saying the recall of the MP’s did not contradict with the call for a “big tent”.

“We have got a resolution of the 4th congress and key was that all members who had left should be formally dismissed, which has been done, secondly they should be recalled according to section 129 (1) (k) of the constitution which states that if one is elected into Parliament through a party then cease to belong to the party, the party can simply write to the speaker (of Parliament),” Gutu said.

The spokesperson added that the move to recall the legislators was a disciplinary matter which will not affect plans of a united opposition.

“Why should people be rewarded for rebelling?” Gutu queried.

“The big tent approach is alive and kicking but should never be abused or taken as a sign of weakness or that we’ll condone indiscipline. We are a party of excellence.

“There is no way we are going to reward rebellion. If you want to join the big tent, you have to renounce rebellion.”

Macdonald Lewanika, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director, described the MDC’s actions as both duplicitous and retrogressive.

“While Tsvangirai seems to be reaching out with the right hand of persuasion, his party seems to be tearing down with the left head of corrosion, retrogressive because it dilutes the little ability that the opposition had to check Zanu PF in parliament — and it also turns back the clock of political competition in Zimbabwe in the sense that where as the opposition had a limited 91 seats in Parliament but now these 21 are being virtually donated to Zanu PF since the opposition has declared that they won’t participate in by-elections,” Lewanika said.

“It’s yet another display of power politics by our political leaders at the expense of a transformative agenda which everyone agrees can only be achieved through unity of purpose and a refocusing on those who are ruining the State not those who are still trying to capture it while in opposition.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the recall revealed confusion within the Tsvangirai-led MDC and the opposition at large.

“Calling for all opposition forces to unite in the face of a likely Mugabe dynasty, continued economic collapse, continued liquidity crunch and fresh abductions and enforced disappearances is the way to go,” Saungweme said.

He said what was lacking in the MDC was the ability to separate personal power and real bread and butter issues.

“It’s clear our political parties and their leaders are pursuing power, wealth and fame that comes with it and not pursuing real issues facing the electorate.

“The original MDC split because of poor leadership and hunger for power by individuals and in the process negating the very founding principles of the party and the aspirations of many activists and their supporters who were killed because of their love for the party,” he said

“It’s real naivete and a demonstration of political parochialism for the MDC-T to seek to oust 21 opposition MPs from Parliament, and at the same time call for a united front of the opposition.

“The biggest beneficiary in all this confusion by the opposition is Zanu PF and the biggest losers are people who had faith in these opposition parties,” Saungweme added.

Comments (2)

Its logically what the MDC T is seeking to do here. The Renewal Team is a new party and should contest an election and win their seats back if they have the support of the people as they parrot every day. What are they afraid of. Should they want the cover of the big tent and to participate in broad based democracy then they should simply do the honorable thing and rejoin the true democratic movement . We are truly fed up with these statements by Mr Jacob Mufume, politics is about being at the center of people's agenda, its not about boardroom clandestine coups somewhere in Mandel nor is its about cheap politicking afterwards. The people have spoken and entrusted their destiny with Tsvangirai regardless of his faults that we have had countless times through these megaphones

Upfumi - 15 March 2015

Was raping of women done by the Zanla Forces in Mozambique good because they were in a liberation struggle? Things have to be restored to their correct position.

Daniel Berejena - 15 March 2015

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