By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
24 February 2014
More calls have been voiced for an early MDC-T congress to be held as soon as possible, to end the worsening infighting and leadership renewal debate threatening to tear the party apart.
Since last year’s highly disputed elections, there has been increased pressure for party leader Morgan Tsvangirai to step aside, with critics saying fresh leadership is the key to helping the MDC-T move forward.
The matter came to a head last month when the MDC-T deputy treasurer general Elton Mangoma confronted Tsvangirai, detailing in a letter why the party President should step down. Tsvangirai then reportedly challenged the MDC-T national executive on the matter, but an early congress was ruled out.
However the factionalism has steadily worsened, with Mangoma bearing the brunt of anger from Tsvangirai supporters. Over a week ago, Mangoma suffered a bloodied nose and bruises during an attack by party youths who were gathered at Harvest House where a heated meeting of district heads was underway to discuss the restructuring of the party.
Police have since charged MDC-T youth leader James Chidhakwa with assaulting Mangoma after he was arrested on Friday. Chidhakwa appeared in court on Saturday morning after spending a night in police detention before he was remanded in custody.
Meanwhile, both the NewsDay and Daily News newspapers have quoted sources in recent days who have detailed the extent of the worsening factionalism within the party, with the Daily News pointing to international funding as an alleged key aggravating issue. The Daily News on Sunday reported that “MDC rebels, who are pushing for Tsvangirai’s ouster, have been holding secret meetings with diplomats and soliciting for funds to topple the opposition leader.”
NewsDay then reported that some Western diplomats privately met Tsvangirai at his Highlands home in Harare in a bid to “express their concern over intra-party violence and the need for him to allow open debate on leadership renewal.” The paper reported that British ambassador Deborah Bronnert met Tsvangirai at his Highlands home over the weekend to discuss the “unsavoury developments in the party since the violence that erupted at the party headquarters more than a week ago.”
Rodgers Mudarikwa, the Provincial Organising Secretary of the MDC T South Africa External Assembly, said the only way to end the fights and debates was an early congress.
“The only solution is congress…the people must decide the way forward, not individuals in the party,” Mudarikwa told SW Radio Africa.
Mudarikwa said that a democratic solution was the only answer and called for the matter to be resolved as soon as possible, in order for there to be a strong, united opposition force in Zimbabwe.
He said: “It is important to use this opportunity to form a single and formidable opposition. The MDC T must call for a convention like congress, where all its allies and other political parties can contest for positions and create one single opposition party. Opposition politics cannot survive the littering of talent that currently exists.”