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Tsvangirai row escalates

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“SUSPENDED” MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai will not lead the people to a new Zimbabwe as the party has adopted dictatorial and violent tendencies, a former ally and now one of the architects of leadership renewal Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said yesterday.

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The MDC-Team led by secretary-general Tendai Biti announced that it had also suspended Tsvangirai’s deputy Thokozani Khupe, MDC-T national chairperson Lovemore Moyo and his deputy Morgan Komichi, organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and his deputy Abednico Bhebhe as well as spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora.

The suspensions of deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, youth leader Promise Mkhwananzi, Jacob Mafume and Last Maengahama had also been reversed, the group said.

Sipepa Nkomo said they had decided to suspend Tsvangirai and his deputies after realising that the party had veered from its ideals.

“We did what we did because we realised that we were moving from democratic values to violence and dictatorship,” Sipepa Nkomo said.

“Tsvangirai will not deliver us to a new Zimbabwe and will not win the presidency of this country. I am one of those who say we need fresh blood; someone who will bring fresh ideas to the party.”

He said even in the Bible God asked Moses to allow Joshua to finish the journey to Canaan after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.

“Those scriptures were not written for fun; they show that at some point people have to cede power.

“The problem is that some leaders love power and don’t want to let go,” Sipepa Nkomo said.

The MDC-Team seems to have made some inroads in Masvingo province as the top provincial executive members supported their bid.

Provincial chair Wilstuff Sitemere, provincial organiser Ernest Mudavanhu, provincial secretary Tongai Matutu, provincial youth chair Oliver Chirume and national executive member Jeffereyson Chitando all attended Saturday’s meeting.

Remnants of the provincial executive threw their weight behind Tsvangirai, saying those that attended the Harare meeting did so in their personal capacities.

Provincial secretary for projects Bernard Chiondegwa addressed a press conference flanked by provincial treasurer Alderman Femius Chakabuda, senator Misheck Marava and Boas Manyanye who was suspended together with secretary for legal affairs, Dereck Charamba.

Matabeleland North interim chairperson Thembinkosi Sibindi described the suspension of Tsvangirai as a non-event.

“As Matabeleland North, what was done by (secretary-general Tendai) Biti is unconstitutional; it is a coup on the leadership. The people who went and represented the province are those that we expelled and we don’t recognise them,” he said.

Sibindi said party members who attended the weekend meeting included ousted chairperson Sengezo Tshabangu, Gift Mabhena and Frederick Ngwenya.

Tshabangu, who insisted to be still at the helm, said Tsvangirai’s brand had been eroded by his dictatorial tendencies. He said replacing Mugabe with Tsvangirai was tantamount to replacing the Zanu PF leader with his shadow.

He said the people around Tsvangirai were clueless on how to take the party forward.

“We don’t want to be a perennial opposition; we need a coalition that will include civic society and churches to dislodge Zanu PF,” Tshabangu said.

MDC-T Matabeleland South chairperson Watchy Sibanda was evasive when contacted yesterday. The Bulawayo provincial youth assembly distanced itself from assertions by the main provincial wing that is backing Tsvangirai.

The youths said they were “tired” of being used by Tsvangirai to fan violence which was against the dictates of democracy.

On Sunday, acting MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson Dorcas Sibanda told journalists after an urgent provincial council meeting that they had rejected the suspensions of Tsvangirai and his close lieutenants as null and void.

However, provincial youth assembly chairperson and Mpopoma-Pelandaba MP Bekithemba Nyathi was cagey about pronouncing the official youth stance.

This was despite Nyathi having attended the Saturday meeting in Harare that resolved to suspended Tsvangirai and his inner circle.

“I cannot give a definitive comment on that now. We are in the process of pursuing a democratic process and those who believe in democracy we will merge with them,” said Nyathi.

However, youth assembly members said the provincial leadership was not the ultimate voice of the party.

“Sibanda cannot authoritatively say the province is behind Tsvangirai. That is not the true position of the party, the youths included. As Bulawayo youth, we distance ourselves from that statement. To clear the issue, we support the renewal team and that cannot be reversed,” an official said.

The Midlands North provincial executive broke ranks with its chairperson Costin Muguti who attended the meeting that suspended Tsvangirai.

In a statement signed by district chairpersons, provincial vice-chairperson Sedwell Bhebhe, spokesperson Abraham Mchena, youth assembly chairperson Tapera Sengweni, his secretary David Samapenda and women’s assembly chairperson Trainer Ruzvidzo, the province said Muguti was representing himself.

The province has also called on the “true” national council to consider Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya who attended the Mandel Centre national council meeting as “self-expelled” from the party.

Midlands South chairperson Lilian Acropol told journalists last night in Gweru after a meeting that the province was backing Tsvangirai.

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