Harare, March 10, 2014-Civic society groups have condemned MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai for the “undemocratic way” he has handled the leadership battle between him and party stalwart, Elton Mangoma.
Mangoma was suspended from the party on Friday on bribery and factionalism charges after he wrote a letter to Tsvangirai suggesting he should step dowm as party leader.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition coordinator Mcdonald Lewanika told The Zimbabwe Mail that Tsvangirai’s reaction to calls for his resignation had shown a lack of understanding of issues.
“Politically, strategically and even socially, the decision to come down on Mangoma for suggesting that the president (Tsvangirai) steps-down for the political longevity and future success of the MDC-T was not strategic. It shows a lack of understanding and appreciation of the greater good, that while we all sacrifice for the greater good, sometimes for the greater good to be achieved, we need to sacrifice ourselves,” Lewanika said.
ZimRights director Okay Machisa weighed in and said there was too much protection of political power in the MDC-T.
“There is no democracy in these political parties and I wonder why it is called the Movement for Democratic Change. People are being intimidated, there is no freedom of speech and too much protection of political power. There is little respect for differing opinions and democracy is at the periphery of this party,” said Machisa.
He said while Tsvangirai, a one-time nominee of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize award may have deserved to be nominated at the time, he needed a reminder.
“At that time, Tsvangirai probably deserved that recognition but things have changed and he needs a reminder of the values that took him to those heights. He needs someone to remind him that he can still lead a democratic movement that practices democracy and not just talk about it,” Machisa said.
Maxwell Saungweme, another civil society activist and socio-political commentator, said Tsvangirai had been exposed as “a poor leader”.
“Tsvangirai and his clique are dealing with the issue in a very wrong way. They could have easily ignored that issue or have it discussed more decently without violence and unconstitutional suspension of Mangoma. The handling of this issue really shows that there is lack of democratic leadership within the MDC-T, which is an irony!
“The way the issue is unfolding is exposing Tsvangirai as a very poor leader who can’t deal with dissent,” said Saungweme adding “Tsvangirai and his cohorts have also shown that they don’t really care about the ordinary people of Zimbabwe or those people that died or were maimed by the regime since 2000 for supporting the MDC”.
He questioned the MDC-T’s holding of rallies “yet there is no imminent general election”.
“They should be busy proffering alternative solutions to the current crisis facing the country than holding rallies to try and demonstrate that Tsvangirai is more popular than Mangoma”.
However, Crisis Coalition board chairperson Dewa Mavhinga argued civil society needed to let the MDC-T solve its internal strife.
“My view is that civil society has no business being involved in internal factional party politics. Civil society must jealously guard its autonomy, independence and neutrality.
“It is only where fundamental values are violated, such as in cases of political violence, that civil society must speak out but from a neutral platform,” said Mavhinga.