By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
01 May, 2014
The battle for control of the MDC-T, which has seen two camps emerge after calls for leadership renewal turned violent, is now expected to spill into the courts as both camps scramble for ownership of party assets and the party name itself.
The so-called renewal camp, led by Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma, have insisted they are the real MDC-T after voting to suspend party president Morgan Tsvangirai and six others at a meeting over the weekend.
The Tsvangirai camp hit back, voting to suspend Biti and eight others at a meeting of their National Council on Tuesday. They insist Biti, Mangoma and others who attended the weekend meeting have in effect left the party and have no right to its name or assets.
This confusion has seen a scramble for party assets already playing out in the provinces, with unlawful entry at party offices being reported by the state-run Herald newspaper. It appears that ownership of furniture, computers and other assets belonging to the party is being disputed.
The Tsvangirai camp occupies the party headquarters at Harvest House in Harare and most of the provincial offices, except in Manicaland. But this row is bound to intensify when government releases the $3 million that is due to political parties that meet a specific threshold of representation in parliament.
The MDC-T acting secretary general, Tapiwa Mashakada, dismissed any attempt to claim ownership of party assets by individuals not associated with Tsvangirai, insisting the MDC-T “still exists” as it was, before Biti and company left.
“Anyone who wants to tamper with the MDC-T assets is actually trying to commit a criminal offence and we won’t hesitate to report such criminal acts to the police. Otherwise our assets are safe, secure and sound. There is no scramble,” Mashakada told SW Radio Africa.
He did however confirm that they had received reports of unlawful break-ins from Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Matabeleland North.
In Mutare, former MP for Mutasa South Mischeck Kagurabadza, provincial secretary Knowledge Nyamhoka and security officer Allen Mukodzani were charged with unlawful entry Wednesday after breaking into party offices and grabbing “various wares”. They were granted $150 bail each and told not to interfere with state witnesses.
The three belong to the Tsvangirai camp, which is reportedly failing to access the party’s provincial offices in Mutare. A similar incident was reported in Chinhoyi, where police questioned four others suspected of stealing, the Herald said. Tsvangirai’s supporters in Masvingo and Midlands South are also reported to have suspended all officials who attended the Biti meeting.
These recent developments mirror the party’s split back in 2005, when the then secretary general Welshman Ncube walked out after accusing Tsvangirai of behaving like a dictator and violating the party’s constitution.
Meanwhile, Elton Mangoma is reportedly suing the Daily News over a report that named him as one of the former MDC-T officials working with ZANU-PF to oust Tsvangirai. The allegations were contained in an MDC-T dosier, which the paper said they possessed.
The paper gave Mangoma the opportunity to respond and he was quoted at length denying any involvement with ZANU PF. Despite this, he is reportedly seeking $2 million for defamation.
We were unable to contact Mangoma for comment.