Harare, March 13, 2014 – Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has rejected talk of an imminent split in the party. He says despite internal divisions over his continued leadership, the MDC remains united.
At a Thursday briefing, Tsvangirai denied the party he had led for fifteen years was disintegrating, following its fourth defeat in national polls. He described the leadership renewal discussions as ‘robust debate’. MDC has split four ways since its formation 15 years ago, but Tsvangirai insists obituaries are premature.
Just days after suspending the deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma for calling for his resignation, Tsvangirai looked set for internal rebellion when Tendai Biti, his powerful secretary general and finance minister condemned the decision.
At the press briefing, Tsvangirai denied reports that the party is disintegrating. “There may appear to be crisis in the cockpit but the crisis in the cockpit is going to be sorted out and that crisis in the cockpit will be sorted out by mutual discussion in the leadership. And I can tell you we had a standing committee meeting and we had fruitful discussions.”
The party appeared prepared to put up a united front in the face of waning support and dwindling financiers. However, key leaders including Biti were conspicuously absent from the briefing.
There is still internal pressure for the party to move forward its elective congress as a way of validating Tsvangirai’s continued stay at the helm. “I am president of the Movement for Democratic Change, but my mandate is with the MDC. They will have the opportunity at given fora, the congress, to express that confidence and at an appropriate time,” says Tsvangirai.
As Tsvangirai battles to remain relevant, the party says it will focus and prioritise external politics over internal democracy.
The drive is to consolidate the MDC by inviting splinter groups and opposition parties to reunite. For now, the first party to heed this call will make a relatively insignificant contribution to his support base.