Harare, April 27, 2014 – The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) has dismissed as “utter nonsense” a meeting of party rebels led by Secretary General Tendai Biti that claimed to have suspended founding president Morgan Tsvangirai and the entire standing committee including Nelson Chamisa and Douglas Mwonzora.
Chamisa, the National Organising Secretary is quoted saying: “This is utter nonsense. They have actually formed a party not that they have suspended us. How can one claim to be divorcing a partner whom he or she had already been divorced from many years ago? It’s a nullity to us and it means nothing.
“Biti has always wanted to be the party President, and we all knew that. It is only after today that he has divulged his intensions.” Asked if the Tsvangirai led faction was not at a disadvantage because western donors were allegedly backing the rebels, Chamisa quipped:
“Do donors vote? We are worried with Zimbabweans who are the voters. Donors do not vote. We are a party which has a mandate of the people of Zimbabwe and that is our constituency,” he added.
The suspensions were announced by Lobengula MP Samuel Sipepa Nkomo at the Mendel Training Centre in Malborough, 15km away from the MDC-T Harvest House headquarters.
“The first item on our agenda was the re-instatement and in fact rescinding of the so called expulsions of deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma, youth secretary general Promise Mkwananzi, national executive members Last Maengahama and Jacob Mafume,” Nkomo said.
“Those purported suspensions are null and void and the national council has voted against them.
“The MDC national council also resolved today to suspend the following persons, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (president), Thokozani Khupe (deputy president), Lovemore Moyo (national chairman), Morgen Komichi (deputy national chairman), Nelson Chamisa (organising secretary), Abednico Bhebhe (deputy organising secretary) and Douglas Mwonzora (information secretary).”
Nkomo said the national council had recommitted the party to its founding values of “democratic struggle, non-violence and servant leadership”. According to the resolutions by the rebels, the party’s guardian council, headed by Sekai Holland, will now take charge and prepare for an elective congress.
But Mwonzora, the National Spokesman also laughed off the suspensions and said the MDC-T was convening “a meeting of critical organs of the MDC on Sunday. We will then call a press conference in the afternoon at the MDC headquarters in Harare to deal with the matter once and for all.”
Mwonzora rubbished claims by Nkomo that the meeting of the rebels was attended by 138 of the 190 national council members. Nkomo claimed that 136 councillors voted for Tsvangirai’s suspension with only two backing him to stay on as leader.
But Mwonzora said “The national council of the MDC cannot be made up of people from other political parties such as Welshman Ncube. This was clearly the work of State security agents, Zanu PF, (President) Robert Mugabe, Welshman Ncube and a few malcontents in our ranks who are trying to destroy the MDC.”
“The claim that 138 national council members attended the meeting is laughable because, for one to be a member of the council, they should first be a legal member of the MDC and many of those who attended the meeting are not members of the party.
“Our reading is that this is the work of people who are scared to challenge the party president at congress because they know they cannot win. The secretary general (Tendai Biti knows he cannot defeat Tsvangirai at congress.”
Writing on Facebook, MDC-T National Executive member Chalton Hwende trashed the purported suspensions saying:
“Of all these people you see here only Tendai Biti was elected directly by our congress delegates in 2011. (Solomon) Madzore was seconded by the Youth Assembly, (Samuel) Sipepa Nkomo tried to stand for the Deputy SG post but was rejected by the same congress only managing a paltry 373 votes.
“The rest were serving in the National Executive at the pleasure of the President who is allowed to appoint 10 additional members in the National Executive. How they now claim to have powers to substitute our Congress ndazvishaya ndibatsireiwo!!!!!!,” Hwende queried.
In an indirect dig at Biti, MDC-T Harare Province spokesman Obert Gutu also took to Facebook saying “He needs emergency treatment. This is definitely not the man I have known for the past 28 years or so. I feel pity for him. Can someone out there please help this guy urgently? He is losing it ; completely.”
Gutu, a practicing lawyer, said “In terms of the MDC-T constitution, one Sipepa Nkomo has absolutely no locus standi (legal standing) to chair a national council meeting. A meeting of the national council is chaired by the national chairman or in his absence, the deputy national chairman.
“One Sipepa Nkomo is a member of the Guardians Council. He is neither the national chairman nor the deputy national chairman. Less than twenty people who attended the bogus national council meeting at Mandel training centre in Harare are bona fide and lawful members of the MDC-T national council.
‘I am a member of the MDC-T national council but I was neither invited to nor advised of the afore-mentioned bogus national council meeting. Legally, therefore, the purported national council meeting that was held on April 26, 2014 is bogus. It is null and void. It is a fundamental principle of law that no valid and binding resolution can arise from a meeting that is null and void,” Gutu wrote.
After the meeting at the Mendel Training Centre in Malborough, a frail looking Biti told reporters “We feel these people have betrayed the struggle. We will rebuild our party from the current ashes.”
Political commentator Langton Mbeva told Nehanda Radio “Biti and his faction might have the backing of western donors but Tsvangirai has the backing of the ordinary people on the ground. Biti staged today’s drama primarily to create the legal confusion necessary to protect MP’s who are supporting him.
“The rebels have vowed to protect their MP’s from being expelled in Parliament as a result of the split. But in suspending the entire standing committee it appears Biti’s faction may have bitten more than they can chew and politically its was a huge blunder, you do not multiply your enemies like that,” he said.
Another political commentator Brighton Musonza said “At least Tsvangirai went through a legal disciplinary process on Elton Mangoma and others. This alleged suspension cannot stand a day in a village court. Has there been a disciplinary process whereby the expelled candidates have been given 14 days notice? No!
“Who convened the meeting that suspended the party President, his deputy and the Chairman without notifying the Chairman? This is a walk in the park for a junior lawyer fresh from Goodwills Misimirembwa’s School of Law.. It is null and void to copy Tendai Biti’s repeated legal language,” Musonza added.
Meanwhile Nehanda Radio understands Tsvangirai loyalists are already angling to have Biti and Madzore expelled from the party in an effort to squash the rebellion once and for all. A demonstration at Biti’s offices is also being planned.
“We will only deal with those who were elected by congress, the other small boys will just whittle into oblivion as their own constituencies isolate them,” another official claimed.