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Divisions rock MDC-T
Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

By Mabasa Sasa
November 18, 2008
The Herald

SERIOUS divisions have rocked MDC-T over participation in the envisaged inclusive Government with a clique loyal to party president Mr Morgan Tsvangirai moving to postpone the party congress scheduled for the beginning of 2009 to 2012 to save Mr Tsvangirai from imminent ouster.

Sources within the MDC say the pro-Tsvangirai lobby wants their boss to be part of the inclusive Government. This, they say, is why the national council resolved to join the inclusive Government, while the anti-Tsvangirai camp reportedly wants the MDC-T leader to dither over the inclusive Government till the party congress as they feel the premiership would strengthen his position ahead of congress.

Though MDC-T spokesman Mr Nelson Chamisa dismissed the existence of a plot to oust his boss, he, however, confirmed that the party congress would be moved to 2012.

"First of all, understand that the deal is not about Morgan Tsvangirai; it is about the party and not any individual. Any position taken (concerning the inclusive Government) is an MDC position.

"Secondly, there is not going to be any congress next year. That is something that Zanu-PF is hoping for and maybe it will be held at Zanu-PF headquarters, so certainly it will not be an MDC congress.

"We held our congress in 2007 and it is held every five years. So the next congress is going to be in 2012," Mr Chamisa said.

The MDC constitution stipulates that a party president holds office for two five-year terms, and is not eligible for re-election thereafter. Mr Tsvangirai became MDC president at the party's inaugural congress in 1999 and his second and final term is set to expire at the end of January next year.

Sources at Harvest House, the MDC-T headquarters, however, said a powerful clique linked to a Zimbabwean businessman based in South Africa wants to block Mr Tsvangirai from joining the inclusive Government so that they can oust him at congress.

The hawks are said to be on a campaign to convince other party members that it is not in the opposition's best interests to be part of the inclusive Government.

The Herald is reliably informed that there is a strong push for Mr Tsvangirai's ouster.

"There is a group of about five influential officials who want regime change in the party and they feel that if Mr Tsvangirai joins Government as Prime Minister it will be difficult to oust him.

"So they are trying to stop him from joining in the first place. Some of them initially felt that it would not matter if Mr Tsvangirai were to become Prime Minister.

"But others thought that this would create a situation such as the one in South Africa where Thabo Mbeki was State President while Jacob Zuma was ANC president.

"They now want to ensure he does not become part of Government at all and they are being backed by a South Africa-based local businessman," one of the sources said.

Another insider confirmed that the pro-Tsvangirai faction had resolved the party would not hold a congress next year.

"It is more or less certain that there will be no congress next year because this would provide the enemy with an opportunity to initiate a leadership change.

"Our constitution states that a congress should be held every five years and that a person can only hold two successive terms as president. Next year Mr Tsvangirai will have been opposition president for 10 years.

"Our argument is that he has only been president of MDC-T since 2007 and hence he will be eligible for re-election when the next congress is held in 2012."

The MDC split on October 12, 2005 over differences to do with participation in that year's Senate elections and the breakaway faction chose Professor Arthur Mutambara to lead it.

Mr Tsvangirai's faction held its own congress in 2007.

It could not be established who was being earmarked to take over the party, though

party secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti's name was being bandied about.

Asked why some people wanted to oust Mr Tsvangirai, an official close to the plot said: "We feel that he tries to cater for too many diverse interest groups and some of them have been responsible for our failure to get (President) Mugabe out of office.

"He listens to the British, he listens to the Americans, he listens to the Scandinavians, he listens to white former commercial farmers, he listens to former Rhodesian soldiers and then he also wants to listen to Zimbabweans from all walks of life who are the voters.

"Things can't work like that. Zanu-PF has staked its political future on the rural populace and this has kept them in power. We have to admit that it has been a successful strategy while we have been failing to roll out a consistently strong strategy for any extended period of time.

"It must change. If Tsvangirai takes the party into the inclusive Government with the present convoluted approach to national politics, (President) Mugabe will have us for breakfast."

Mr Tsvangirai is in France where he is reported to have met the European Union presidency for "consultations".

Mr Chamisa could not say what Mr Tsvangirai was doing in France, where he is said to have gone for "consultations" following the recent Sadc Extraordinary Summit in Sandton, South Africa.

He also could not say what kind of travel document Mr Tsvangirai was using as he was issued with an emergency travel document valid for South Africa only, where the Sadc summit was held.

He referred all questions to Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe, who could not be reached for comment.

Sadc leaders last week urged Zanu-PF and the MDC formations to form an inclusive Government immediately and to enact Constitutional Amendment Number 19 to give legal force to the provisions of the agreement.

Zanu-PF has stated its willingness to comply with Sadc's decision and President Mugabe has started the process of forming a Government.

MDC-T and MDC were invited to submit lists of their preferred ministers to President Mugabe to facilitate the formation of the inclusive Government.

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