MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai reportedly cracked the whip on warring factions within his party in Masvingo on Wednesday, telling them of the need to unite following fissures caused by the party’s congress last month.
In a closed door meeting held at the party’s provincial headquarters in Rhodene low-density suburb, Tsvangirai is said to have moved to quell divisions within two factions, one allegedly sympathetic to former acting provincial chair Bernard Chiondegwa, and another linked to new chairman James Gumbi.
The acting provincial executive under Chiondegwa took over on an interim basis after the previous executive deserted Tsvangirai and joined the MDC-Renewal led by former party secretary-general Tendai Biti.
New elections ahead of the party’s congress saw Gumbi taking over, but there were allegations of voting irregularities from Chiondegwa’s sympathisers.
Sources said the divisions between the two Masvingo factions widened at the party’s congress, as each side was backing different candidates for national posts.
They said Tsvangirai had to address the issue in the meeting to keep Masvingo intact.
“While he touched on many things, the president (Tsvangirai) stressed on unity between the two factions, warning them that no one was bigger than the party,” a source in the meeting said.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, however, said the Masvingo meeting was an induction workshop for newly-elected officials.
“This is an induction meeting for those elected to positions,” he said.
“It is not a rally, which is why you see it is not meant for the public, not even for our members who are not in the structures.
“It is more technical than political, where we are outlining the strategy, vision, among other things.”