Tsvangirai, Biti Rift Widens

Harare, March 10, 2014-MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti could have fallen for a shrewd plot to finger him as Elton Mangoma’s handler after he sought to overturn a suspension imposed by the National Council on the deputy treasurer-general.

The party’s highest decision-making body outside congress ruled on Friday that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Mangoma was engaged in bribery, undermining elected officials, bringing the party into disrepute and fanning factionalism.

Mangoma’s suspension triggered feverish calls by Biti to throw out the verdict ostensibly because the National Council violated the MDC constitution, that the decision breached his duty to charge the chartered accountant, who he said was not given the right to be heard.

The suspension, which has left the Biti faction in disarray, has made Tsvangirai wield awesome political clout and regain strength and he is now manoeuvring to tighten the noose around the rebels, who have been calling for his ouster.

Apparently, Mangoma’s suspension was a plot by the MDC to hunt down officials who gave protection and succour to hiscalls for leadership renewal.

It has long been whispered that Mangoma was Biti’s Trojan horse, and that the former Finance minister was using the deputy treasurer-general in his attempt to ascend to the MDC presidency.

The probe into Mangoma is one of the highest-profile cases against a standing committee member since Tsvangirai dramatically lost the presidential election in July last year.

Theresa Makone, the MDC Women’s Assembly chairperson, told a rally also addressed by Tsvangirai in Chitungwiza on Saturday that Mangoma’s umbrella of protection and his backer was revealed to the public immediately after his suspension.

“Hanzi kana uchida kuona amai vechidhoma, unorova chidhoma chacho (If you want to out the mother of a ghost, you beat up the ghost),” Makone said.

She reiterated that the conflict was not in the interest of the party and the nation at large.

“How can we become a people who, every time we have differences, we go and tell the whole world, that is not acceptable,” said an emotional  Makone.

“Mangoma would not have been able to get away with his public call for Tsvangirai’s ouster if he had not enjoyed the protection of “certain party officials”, adding “no matter who you are or what your position is, if you break the MDC statutes, you will be punished by the law,” Makone said.

Tsvangirai implored his party members to work together.

“We have to work together and not turn our backs,” he said.

“I will be leading while you follow. We want to march forward; left, right, left, right; in order. Not right, left, right, left; that is disorderly. Kana usingade kuita fall in line, ibva muline. Haikona kukonzera disorder.” (if you decide to rebel, don’t cause disorder).

Tsvangirai said “we are not going to push anyone outside the tent.”

“We want more people to be in the tent,” he said.

“Those who are committed to the democratic struggle and change in this country, let’s work together.”

He said his party was prepared to work with other opposition leaders who shared MDC values in theory and practice.

Citing Job Sikhala, the leader of a splinter MDC-99 as an example, Tsvangirai told the 2 000-plus crowd that he was committed to work with other democrats.

“As the MDC, we do not have to run out of manpower but if we all want a successful democratic struggle, let’s work together, deliver change and remove Zanu-PF (from power),” he said.

Tsvangirai said he was prepared to cede leadership if the time was ripe.

“I will be happy even if it means that when I am not there, the democratic struggle continues and becomes a success,” he said.

“Unlike (President) Mugabe who is holding onto power and when he dies, his party dies with him, I will be happy even if I leave, there are tangible fruits (of the democratic struggle).”

Tsvangirai noted that the country was still in need of solutions to political and economic challenges, adding there was need for national dialogue.

“The question which still stands is how do we solve this deep crisis as a country? We have to bring solutions. Let’s focus on solving this, whether you are in the MDC or Zanu-PF. We have done this before. We have to find a national dialogue and a settlement. We remain with high expectations and little delivery.”

Zanu-PF has spurned Tsvangirai’s call for talks for a possible power-sharing arrangement saying he was “daydreaming.”

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai told a rally in Mabvuku in Harare yesterday that he was keen to “re-energise our base, moving around the country holding rallies.”

“We are not only going to re-energise our party, we want to stop all this bickering and focus on Mugabe and Zanu-PF, that’s the national agenda we have to face,” Tsvangirai said.

“We also want to remobilise our resources, people say MDC is now broke. MDC will never go broke. We will gather the little that we have so that our party can survive.” 

He said in the same manner party members mobilised resources at the 2006 congress, the same clarion call was being made now to the MDC members to financially rescue the beleagured party.

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