By Tichaona Sibanda
Friday’s national executive meeting of the MDC-T in Harare threatens to be an explosive affair.
The MDC-T has been plagued by recent reports of factional discord, with a leading senior figure calling for Morgan Tsvangirai to step down. Analysts believe the MDC-T crises have been left to fester for too long and the likelihood of them becoming lethal cannot be ruled out.
Elton Mangoma, the deputy treasurer-general and former Minister of Energy in the inclusive government, has joined forces with exiled party treasurer Roy Bennett in intensified efforts to stop Tsvangirai from standing again as the presidential candidate in the 2018 elections.
The meeting on Friday promises to be raucous, with Mangoma’s four page letter to Tsvangirai coming under the spotlight. Under Mangoma’s proposals, Tsvangirai should resign immediately and hand over power to his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, pending an extraordinary congress that would choose a new leadership for the party.
Khupe has already shot down this proposal, saying she’s solidly behind the party leader. A defiant Tsvangirai has said he will see out his current five-year term, which ends in 2016, and seek another mandate then.
Charlton Hwende, a national executive member in charge of Mashonaland West province and a Tsvangirai loyalist, told our weekly Hidden Story program that Mangoma should ‘put up or shut up.’
‘If Mangoma is a democrat he should bring his position paper to the meeting on Friday and put his proposals for leadership renewal up for vote. If it finds no takers, he should drop his proposals,’ said Hwende.
Asked what will happen if the wealthy businessman wins the vote, Hwende retorted: ‘He won’t.’
‘He’s (Mangoma) quite aware that he doesn’t have the numbers, doesn’t have popular appeal and doesn’t have popular support. If he loses Friday’s vote and insists on the leadership renewal outside party structures, that will become a disciplinary issue,’ Hwende added.
However, an ally of Mangoma, a senior party member from Manicaland, told us there is not going to be any let-up in the war to force Tsvangirai to step down.
‘If he’s popular why is he resisting an early congress and we also want him to explain to us the issues that Mangoma raised in his letter,’ said the former MP, who explained that the much publicised letter will be high on the agenda on Friday.
Tsvangirai did table a motion for an early congress at last week’s standing committee, but it found no takers.
SW Radio Africa has been speaking to figures sympathetic to both Tsvangirai and Mangoma who told us there are plans to bring this war of attrition between the two men’s camps to an end.
‘Democracy comes with a price and this is what Mangoma has found out. He has put his case across and I think its time for him to take a back seat and see how things play out in the background.
‘Already a message has been sent to him to cool down following a meeting today,’ said the MDC-T legislator, who preferred to remain anonymous. Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora attempted to put the best face on the divisive mood and some outbreaks of violence.
‘The MDC is not under siege, never mind what people are saying or writing, the party and not individuals will emerge strong from this passing phase,’ he said. SW Radio Africa