MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary-general Tendai Biti have moved to close ranks after it emerged that the two met on Tuesday afternoon in a bid to iron out their differences.
Impeccable sources told our sister paper NewsDay yesterday that the two met after the standing committee meeting also attended by Biti at the party’s Harvest House headquarters in Harare.
Biti, who has been receiving a barrage of criticism, including being labelled a traitor, by supporters loyal to Tsvangirai for allegedly conceding that the MDC-T lost to Zanu PF in last year’s elections, had been snubbing gatherings addressed by the former prime minister.
Although Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka professed ignorance on the meeting, party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said there was nothing wrong in the two meeting.
“There is nothing wrong in our president meeting with the secretary-general. Biti is still the secretary-general of the party who has certain duties within the party,” he said.
But Tamborinyoka insisted there had been no meeting between Tsvangirai and Biti.
“The only meeting I know was the standing committee meeting. I can confirm that Biti, with the other party leaders attended the meeting. Everything else is speculation,” he said.
Biti was not answering his phone yesterday, but sources insisted that the two met after efforts by other party neutrals who were miffed by the ongoing public spat facilitated for the two to find each other.
“Certainly Biti attended the standing committee meeting and was expected to meet Tsvangirai thereafter in a meeting facilitated by some members of the party,” the source privy to the developments said.
Biti recently attracted the wrath of Tsvangirai’s supporters when he described the suspension of the party’s deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma a legal nullity.
At all the three rallies that were addressed by Tsvangirai in Harare and snubbed by Biti, supporters labelled both Biti and Mangoma sellouts who should be dismissed from the party.
The sources said the rifts between Biti and Tsvangirai had been fuelled by people angling for the post of secretary-general as the race to succeed the long time opposition leader unfolds.
This followed the suspension of Mangoma, who had written two letters calling for Tsvangirai to step down.
The standing committee meeting agreed on a three-member tribunal that would try Mangoma in the next two weeks.
The meeting also appointed Biti’s deputy, Tapiwa Mashakada as the acting deputy treasurer-general until Mangoma’s case was finalised.
Although Mwonzora refused to release the names of the tribunal, NewsDay is reliably informed they comprised prominent lawyer and former Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga, Trust Maanda and Bulawayo-based lawyer Promise Ncube.
“I cannot tell you the names of people who form the tribunal because they are yet to be informed, but it is the party’s policy that if allegations are levelled against members, a due process before an impartial body should be conducted,” Mwonzora said.