THE Bulawayo MDC-T Youth Assembly has been rocked by turmoil over the leadership’s alleged unilateral endorsement of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai as the 2018 presidential candidate and rebuke of deputy treasurer-general Elton Mongoma with a faction distancing itself from the pronouncements.
Mangoma was recently assaulted by party youth members outside the Harvest House head office for calling for Tsvangirai to go. Last Friday, the assembly’s Bulawayo provincial leader and Mpopoma-Pelandaba MP Bekithemba Nyathi convened a press conference in the city and endorsed Tsvangirai as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 polls. At the briefing, Nyathi claimed that Mangoma lied that Tsvangirai had instigated his attack saying “Zanu PF thugs are responsible for the attack”.
The move has raised a storm within the youth wing as some members were quick to distance themselves from the endorsement. Sources said a section of the youths confronted deputy secretary Kwanele Phiri during victory celebrations for Njube/Lobengula councillor Lillian Mlilo on Saturday attended by some senior party officials.
“We were shocked to hear that a handful of provincial youth leaders said Bulawayo youths are fully behind Tsvangirai to the extent of endorsing him as presidential candidate,” said a source.
“We are not part of that decision as it is not a reflection of the structures’ view on the matter. No one consulted the structures. The executive cannot issue statements alone. The main wing has not even called a press briefing to announce its stance on the Mangoma saga.
“What is even more surprising is that Nyathi escaped assault in Harare over the Mangoma issue, but he rushes to Bulawayo to endorse Tsvangirai,” said the source.
However, Nyathi yesterday said the decision to back Tsvangirai was reached last Thursday during a consultative meeting. “On Thursday, there was a consultative meeting which included all district chairpersons and executive members. We resolved as Bulawayo youths to rally behind Tsvangirai as our candidate. We also resolved to condemn all forms of violence as a means of resolving internal issues. So everyone was consulted,” he said.
Referring to Mangoma, Nyathi said senior members should not rush to the press and insult “the president by using foul language” when confronted with challenges. The youths attacked Mangoma and youth assembly secretary-general Promise Mkhwananzi outside the MDC-T headquarters.
Secretary-general Tendai Biti reportedly escaped the mob by throwing himself into Tsvangirai’s car while another national youth boss Solomon Madzore had to make a hasty retreat into the party headquarters.