Attempts to oust Tsvangirai claims scalps of two provincial leaders

Morgan Tsvangirai and Elton Mangoma

By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
5 March 2014

Plans to oust MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai from his position have fallen flat in two Matebeleland provinces, after pro-Tsvangirai loyalists managed to force the provincial chairmen there to step down.

The two chairpersons Wachi Sibanda, Matebeleland South and Sengezo Tshabangu, Matebeleland North were fingered to be part of a group in the party that has been plotting to remove Tsvangirai. The duo has since been replaced by diehard Tsvangirai supporters.

SW Radio Africa is reliably informed more heads are likely to roll this Friday. This is when the party convenes its first national council meeting since the leadership renewal debate was ignited by deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma’s letter to Tsvangirai asking him to step down. The national council is highest decision making body of the party.

A senior party official at Harvest House told us a list that contains all the ‘coup plotters’ has been drawn up and the names will be exposed on Friday. He said there is more to follow from what transpired with Sibanda and Tshabangu.

It was discovered that the two senior party leaders had in the last month been holding clandestine meetings with some individuals pushing for the ouster of Tsvangirai. But their involvement in the ‘coup plot’ has backfired as both their provincial councils met and passed a vote of no confidence in their leadership, at the same time unanimously endorsed Tsvangirai as their leader.

Our correspondent in Bulawayo, Lionel Saungweme, told our weekly program The Hidden Story that council members were not amused by the actions of Sibanda and Tshabangu and immediately called for their expulsion from the party.

Saungweme said it appears Tsvangirai is gaining an upper hand in entrenching his power base ahead of a congress he believes the party might convene before the end of this year. Bulawayo province has already said it solidly stands behind Tsvangirai and the former trade unionist can now sleep with ease knowing he can count on the support of delegates from Bulawayo, Mat South and North, Midlands North and South, Mash West and East and Harare.

The women and youth leagues, led by Theresa Makone and Solomon Madzore, have endorsed the MDC leader, but individuals like Madzore have allegedly been linked to the group that was baying for Tsvangirai’s blood.

Saungweme told us that in one of the provincial meetings held in Bulawayo last week, party members deplored the alleged involvement of some diplomats of having a hand in attempts to force Tsvangirai to step down.

Unconfirmed reports have suggested that diplomats have been meeting the leadership renewal members in Harare behind Tsvangirai’s back, a situation he talked about at a rally on Sunday.

Tsvangirai ordered diplomats supporting the leadership renewal calls to back off, saying change of leadership within the party was the prerogative of its grassroot structures. Tsvangirai accused the diplomats of fuelling divisions in his party.

‘We have our friends out there. We are surprised by people who say we want that one to lead the party. Is that the work of diplomats? Tsvangirai asked.

A source in Harare said it’s now inevitable that the party will call for an early congress to deal with leadership dispute and not let it rumble on and cause massive damage to its structures.

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