By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
31 January 2014
MDC-T deputy treasurer-general, Elton Mangoma, was on Friday censured by the national executive for taking the leadership renewal debate outside party structures.
Following an ‘explosive’ meeting in Harare, it was agreed Mangoma will be spared from further disciplinary action as the party didn’t want to be seen trampling on his freedom of expression.
Others, led by the combative Charlton Hwende, the executive member in charge of Mashonaland West province, wanted Mangoma charged for putting the party’s name in disrepute by issuing statements to the media.
According to insiders the meeting managed to heal the rift which threatened to split the MDC-T. The tense showdown came after Mangoma wrote a letter to Tsvangirai asking him to step down. But in a slapdown, Tsvangirai dismissed the proposal, sparking the latest fissures in the labour backed party.
Tsvangirai gave Mangoma time to explain his position paper on why he wanted him to step down. But at times Mangoma was heckled during his 30 minute brief. Some in the meeting sympathized with Mangoma and moved a motion not to punish him, a position the party eventually took.
Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa the issue at stake was whether Mangoma was allowed to speak to the media regarding party issues, especially the leadership renewal.
‘The consensus in the meeting was that he was not authorized. Party members can only speak to the media if they get clearance from the spokesman, especially when people want to discuss internal issues outside party structures,’ Mwonzora said.
He added; ‘We don’t worry much when leaders give their opinions, but we get concerned when leaders go to the media and speak about internal issues. That is wrong.’
The outcome of the meeting came as a relief to many party activists who feared Mangoma’s letter to Tsvangirai last week would trigger yet another acrimonious split.
Meanwhile all is not well in ZANU PF’s Midlands province as members aligned to Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction have said the party there will remain unmanageable until irregularities that marred the disputed provincial elections held in November last year are resolved.
The weekly Zimbabwe Independent paper reported that a senior party official in the province called on the politburo to reconsider its decision to endorse the provincial polls, which were marred by accusations of vote-buying, intimidation, disenfranchisement and ballot-rigging.
Last week the party’s commissariat dissolved the Midlands provincial executive, after top party officials stormed out of a tense meeting a fortnight ago as members from the two main factions, led by Mnangagwa and Vice-President Joice Mujuru, failed to resolve contentious faction-related issues.