The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporters
The MDC-T national executive council yesterday suspended party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, his deputy Ms Thokozani Khupe, national organising secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa and national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo on allegations of using violence to silence dissenting voices within the party.
Mr Moyo’s deputy, Mr Morgan Komichi, and spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora also suffered the same fate. The council immediately installed former Cabinet minister Mr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo as acting national chairman.
It also reinstated deputy national treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma; national executive council members Mr Last Maengahama and Mr Promise Mkwananzi as well as lawyer Mr Jacob Mafume who had all been dismissed from the party after they expressed displeasure at Mr Tsvangirai’s leadership.
In addition, the suspension of provincial leaders who had also been disciplined on similar grounds was lifted. It is understood Mr Tsvangirai will soon be brought before a disciplinary tribunal while the substantive leadership will be elected at congress.
Among notable officials who attended the executive council meeting, which made the decisions, are secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti, Mr Mangoma, national youth chairman Mr Solomon Madzore, former legislator Mr Ian Kay, Masvingo provincial secretary Mr Tongai Matutu, Mr Mkwananzi and women’s wing member Ms Evelyn Masaiti.
Reacting to the resolutions yesterday, Mr Chamisa described the suspensions as “madness”.
Mr Mwonzora weighed in, saying the decision was a “damp squib” and accused Zanu-PF, President Mugabe, intelligence operatives and MDC leader Professor Welshman Ncube of dividing the party.
Speaking to journalists soon after the council met in Harare yesterday, Mr Sipepa Nkomo said the party was cleansing itself of violence and dictatorship.
Listen to Mr Nkomo here:
A total of 138 out of the 176 national executive council members voted at the meeting which took place at the Mandel Training Centre. One hundred and thirty-six voted for Mr Tsvangirai’s suspension while two voted against.
Mr Sipepa Nkomo said those suspended will be served with letters and appear before a tribunal.
“The constitution of the party is quite clear: if you are to suspend or expel anybody, you actually need the vote of the national council.
“So as a result of the violation of our constitution, which had been thrown out through the window with several members doing what pleases them, council has voted to suspend Morgan Tsvangirai and his cronies.
“The party’s national council is reaffirming our democratic, founding values and principles, which have been trodden under foot by some of our colleagues. This council has reaffirmed to cleanse ourselves of these things.”
He accused MrTsvangirai of bringing the party into disrepute, saying “we will not walk with those who have violence in their veins”.
Outlining the national council resolutions, Mr Biti said Mr Tsvangirai violated article 3 of the party constitution which states that the political organisation must adhere to “the principles of social democrats”.
He said the party will now operate under the control and curatorship of “party elders and veterans in the guardian council who must run the party and prepare for Congress where members should be free to elect new leadership”.
“Article 3 of the MDC constitution made it clear that the MDC would be a social democratic party whose core values were solidarity, justice, equality, liberty, freedom, transparency, accountability and servant leadership.
“The same constitution went on to define the character of the MDC, which included a strong objection to the use of violence, sexism, racialism, factionalism, frontisicm whilst promoting the values of free speech, diversity, democracy and gender equality.”
Mr Biti said over the years, the MDC has deviated from its founding values of non-violent confrontation.
He accused Mr Tsvangirai of “using violence as a way of settling disputes, corruption, disrespect of the constitution, a culture of impunity, the existence of parallel structures including a kitchen Cabinet and vigilante groups associated with the leader”.
He added that these contradictions inevitably led to the split of the party in October 2005.
“Despite the split and the revival of the party between 2006 and 2008, the downward spiral to self-destruction did not stop. The old challenges of violence, abuse of the rule of law, disrespect of the rule of law, a weak, flip flopping leader have remained a permanent infrastructure.
“The spilt eliminated many of the original leaders of the party and regrettably this led to a consolidation of the leader’s sole grip on the same. The party transformed into a fiefdom of Tsvangirai, where decision-making, policy direction or lack thereof, have been monopolised and privatised.”
Mr Biti said “even the artistic voice of the party, in song and poetry, the name and symbols which has his (Tsvangirai’s) own ‘handsome’ face have been so personalised through the deified leader”.
The Harare East legislator said the party has been delinked from the working people of Zimbabwe and has totally isolated itself from its labour and civic society roots.
He said the inclusive Government exposed MrTsvangirai’s leadership deficiency.
“The leader (Tsvangirai) was clearly outsmarted by his co-principal in Government, Robert Mugabe, and miserably failed to push the reform agenda, which was the primary reason of joining Government. The result was that of a party entering an election before the reform agenda was completed.
“Very sadly the leader’s own personal indiscretions, lack of restraint, lack of judgment and an extravagant taste of high seas and high life, all done in the public glare regrettably brought the party into disrepute.”
He alleged that MrTsvangirai was a corrupt leader who abused millions of donor funds “at a time when millions of Zimbabweans were starving.”
“. . .He is clearly unsuitable and has disqualified himself as a fit and proper patriot with the legitimacy, credibility, ability, decency or honesty of leading and executing the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe.
“We, the genuine MDC national executive gathered here, no longer recognise him or his associates in the Standing Committee in any capacity, therefore exercise our right to freedom of dissociation and will now pursue our struggle with genuine, credible fellow Zimbabweans.”
In an interview last night, MrChamisadismissed the resolutions as madness.
“How can they suspend us from a party which they do not belong to? We are not at all moved by this because it is a suspension from madness. In any case we have never been part of this madness,” he said.
He said he would “not waste time dealing with fortune seekers.”
Mr Mwonzora angrily denounced the resolutions and said they were not binding as the meeting was illegal, adding that those who attended “automatically expelled themselves”.
“It is a damp squib. It is a culmination of a programme of covert operations by the CIO, Zanu-PF and (President) Mugabe, working with a few malcontents and Welshman Ncube’s party to destablise the MDC.
“The meeting is a legal nullity and the president of the party remains Morgan Tsvangirai together with his standing committee. Those who attended this meeting have automatically expelled themselves from the party. We did not attend the meeting because it was a meeting that was convened by people who have formed their own party.
“Because of this extraordinary development, the MDC will be convening an urgent press conference tomorrow where we will give our detailed response to today’s (yesterday’s) developments after having consolidated all factors.
“Most of the members who attended that meeting are not even members of the National Council. Some of them belong to Welshman Ncube’s MDC. You cannot constitute a quorum with leadership from other parties. The meeting was illegal because it was not the National Council. The meeting was illegal because it was not convened by the national chairman, who is Mr Lovemore Moyo.”
Bulawayo East legislator Mr Eddie Cross said those who attended the meeting had virtually split the MDC.
“The madness continues,” he said.
“I find it sad and disappointing. I did not attend the meeting because I was not aware of it, although I am a member of the national council. I don’t think it (the meeting) has any traction with the bulk of the membership.
“I don’t know how the quorum was constituted. It signifies an amicable divorce. It is a straight fight for power.”