By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
05 May 2014
The former secretary general of the MDC-T, Tendai Biti, added to confusion over his so-called ‘renewal team’ as he addressed supporters at the MDC-T headquarters in Mutare, during what has been described as a “inter-district consultative meeting” by one official.
Speaking at a venue that has been a no-go to the Tsvangirai camp, Biti told the estimated 100 supporters that the group was in a transition which required holding on to the MDC party name, but would definitely have their own name as a party in the future.
“This movement, the renewal movement, is in its formative stages. We are in that transition where we have to hold on to the name MDC for certain strategic reasons,” Biti is quoted as saying.
Critics dismissed that assertion, pointing to the fact that changing the name immediately would lead to the loss of parliamentary seats for legislators in their camp, as well as their monthly income and other government supplied perks.
The row over what happens to legislators who won their seats under the MDC-T banner will now apparently be left to the speaker of parliament to resolve. The parliamentary speaker, Jacob Mudenda, is reported to have confirmed receiving submissions from both camps, and says he is still studying the issue.
Pishai Muchauraya, fthe ormer MDC-T spokesperson for Manicaland who was suspended from the Tsvangirai camp earlier this year, insisted they were still the real MDC-T and Tendai Biti is not the former secretary general, but the “bonafide” secretary general of the party.
Muchauraya told SW Radio Africa the Mutare meeting was intended to chart the way forward and make resolutions regarding recent developments, including their suspension of party president Morgan Tsvangirai and his allies.
“We wanted to get feedback from the people to know what is happening on the ground and we were so happy that the people of Manicaland endorsed the suspension of Morgan Tsvangirai and his hooligans,” Muchauraya said.
He added that the Mutare offices and vehicles did not belong to the Tsvangirai party and were actually donated by individuals within the MDC-T, and no one should claim otherwise. Tsvangirai, he said, is a “compromised leader who cannot deliver change in 2018”.
Muchauraya confirmed that they had already made submissions to parliament as early as last Monday, seeking to protect their legislators the House. The MDC-T submission to parliament was made later on Friday by deputy president Thokozani Khupe, who sought to withdraw all MPs implicated in the leadership renewal plot.
Nine MPs have been identified as renewal supporters by the Tsvangirai camp and are facing dismissal from parliament. They include Biti himself, Solomon Madzore, Paul Madzore, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Evelyn Masaiti and the outspoken Settlement Chikwinya, who sparked much debate in the House.
The Tsvangirai camp was already blocked from accessing the Mutare office even before the split, after a row in the provincial leadership led to suspensions and intensified infighting ahead of provincial elections last year.
Party officials who attended the Mutare meeting included the former MP for Makoni South and provincial spokesperson Pishai Muchauraya, former Mutare Mayor Brian James and Patrick Sagandira.
Ironically it is now ZANU PF that will settle this dispute in the opposition.