Is this the end of the MDC-T?

Tendai Biti and Morgan Tsvangirai

Tendai Biti and Morgan Tsvangirai during happier times

By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
28 April 2014

The main opposition party in Zimbabwe, the MDC-T, has apparently split into at least two factions.

A faction, consisting of the secretary-general Tendai Biti, several MPs and provincial chairpersons, announced on Saturday that Morgan Tsvangirai was no longer president.

After a meeting in Harare they announced his suspension as party leader, claiming that he has become autocratic and unprincipled. Biti added that Tsvangirai and some other senior officials had ‘betrayed’ the MDC’s struggle.

However, party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora robustly defended Tsvangirai insisting that he remained the party’s legitimate leader.

The ongoing internal chaos in the MDC-T, which was predictable following the rate at which key members were ostracising each other since the party lost elections last year, is likely to deal a heavy blow to the opposition.

This weekend’s events are not only ill-timed but happening at a time when the opposition parties were allegedly mulling a merger, to form a strong coalition. Analysts said it is however evident that the MDC-T is again exhibiting its failure to coordinate its internal affairs, leaving many wondering if this is finally the end of the road for the MDC-T.

Former education minister David Coltart, who is a founding member of the original MDC, told the BBC over the weekend that Tsvangirai’s ‘suspension’, although not unexpected, was a bad thing for democracy in Zimbabwe.

‘I am concerned about this. What we need in the opposition is consolidation, not further splitting. Morgan Tsvangirai, for whatever can be leveled against him, remains a very popular figure and we really do need him as part of the overall democratic forces, Coltart said.

Many of the officials aligned with Tsvangirai said that while the party was drowning under the weight of disagreements, the move by Biti to suspend Tsvangirai and try to take over the party does not signal a split.

‘It is not a split. A split is when you have many people following you to form another party, but this is walk out by a few disgruntled members,’ said Obert Gutu, a Tsvangirai loyalist and spokesman for the Harare province.

Other analysts said the emergence of factions within the MDC-T is weakening the opposition party and threatens any chance of it winning the elections in 2018.

The complete disarray in the opposition comes at a time when the ruling ZANU PF is at its most vulnerable, due to the dying economy, the increasing corruption scandals and Robert Mugabe’s evident physical frailty.

But instead of focusing on this and using it to their advantage for the good of Zimbabwe, all the opposition leaders appear concerned with is battling each other.

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