By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
11 March 2014
A number of emissaries, including academic Ibbo Mandaza, have been roped in to diffuse the political turmoil within the MDC-T, whose infighting has moved beyond sparring.
Infighting has been prevalent in the main opposition party since its suspended deputy secretary-general, Elton Mangoma, wrote a letter to party leader Morgan Tsvangirai asking him to step down.
The letter created tension and produced some notable casualties like Mangoma himself. Tapiwa Mashakada, the MP for Hatfield in the capital, was appointed the acting treasurer-general in place of Mangoma during Tuesday’s standing committee meeting.
Proxies fighting on behalf of the former MP and businessman were caught up in the fight, amid fears the problems would eventually lead to the movement’s split.
Things got worse on Friday when Secretary General Tendai Biti convened a hastily arranged press conference after the national council endorsed Mangoma’s suspension, and appeared to rebuke it. He claimed the decision to suspend Mangoma was a nullity, further inflaming the fractious situation in the MDC-T.
There have been significant moves by the various emissaries to prevent the party from splitting. Mandaza, a political analyst and director of the Harare based think-tank Sapes Trust, was reportedly engaged for his influence over both Tsvangirai and Biti.
Political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya said following the infighting of the last few weeks, it was time for all sides to sit down and work out their differences in peace, using rational discourse.
Promise Mkwananzi, the Youth Assembly secretary-general, and an ally of both Mangoma and Biti, told SW Radio Africa’s Speak out Padare program that if people disagree, it does not mean they’ve lost loyalty to each other.
Asked if it was possible for him to work again with Tsvangirai, given that he was linked to the group calling for his ouster, the youth leader dismissed suggestions that he was not loyal to the party and its leader.
‘It’s just a difference of the manner we see things and the way we must take things forward,’ he said, blaming individuals and the media for ‘sensationalizing and personalizing’ the infighting.
Mkwananzi said there is no doubt there is a case against Mangoma, but he was against the way the party was selectively applying laws to punish others, and while not taking action against some who have done worse things.
‘The laws of the party must apply uniformly. We’ve had so many people who have put the party’s name into disrepute by utterances in newspapers and utterances on Facebook. There are people who have committed acts of violence against leaders of the party and nothing has been done to those people,’ complained Mkwananzi.
Discussing the suspension of Mangoma on the same program with Mkwananzi, national council member Charlton Hwende, a Tsvangirai loyalist, said the party took the correct decision in suspending the deputy treasurer-general.
‘People were hiding behind the word democracy to denigrate Tsvangirai and the party, thinking that they were untouchable as they had the democratic right to express themselves. It turned out later that it was not a case of their rights being suppressed but lack of discipline.
‘There is no way you can run a party without discipline. We want each and every member of the party to respect all the institutions of the MDC, from the President, standing committee, national council and national executive, right down to the grassroots structures. If they fail to respect these institutions then there will be anarchy in the party,’ Hwende added.