Dumisani Muleya/Ray Matikinye
DIVISIONS rocking the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) widened yesterday as factions battling for control intensified infighting over the forthcoming senate elect
The MDC – split down the middle and increasingly dysfunctional – this weekend faced break-up after its leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he did not care if the party disintegrated.
Tsvangirai, who stormed out of the national executive council meeting to address a press conference at his Harare home before heading for his rural home in Buhera on Wednesday, defended his position to impose a decision to boycott the election after the council voted for participation.
“The electoral management system in Zimbabwe is still a recipe for political disasters. The system breeds illegitimate outcomes and provides for a predetermined result,” Tsvangirai said.
MDC legal secretary David Coltart said the majority of the party’s grassroots support wanted participation because they are saying “if we don’t participate we yield ground in areas where Zanu PF has no chance of winning votes”.
Opposing MDC camps were said to be headed by Tsvangirai and party secretary-general Welshman Ncube. The Tsvangirai faction comprises mainly trade unionists who are administrative and managerial workers, while Ncube’s group is dominated by intellectuals, many of whom are MPs.
Tsvangirai’s adherents included party chair Isaac Matongo, Fidelis Mhashu, Tapiwa Mashakada, Ian Makone, Dennis Murira, William Bango, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, and Gandi Mudzingwa.
Ncube was said to be supported by Gibson Sibanda, Gift Chimanikire, Fletcher Dulini Ncube, and Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, among others.
Tsvangirai said his faction would “mount a national crusade against the senate election”, while the Ncube group said it would contest the poll.
But fearing a damaging split, concerned MDC leaders yesterday started initiatives to resolve the problem. The party, struggling to maintain internal cohesion, is expected to meet again on Thursday to sort out the issue.
The sharp schisms within the MDC and the ruling Zanu PF appeared likely to fuel manoeuvres by disgruntled senior members of the two parties to form the proposed United People’s Movement (UPM).
Zanu PF is split into two major factions struggling for the heart and soul of the party. The party was almost fractured after a fierce power struggle in the run-up to its congress last December.
Despite thinly veiled attempts by those associated with the new party to distance themselves from it, plans for the UPM formation were gathering momentum behind the scenes.
The party has launched a campaign song, written by former presidential spin-doctor Jonathan Moyo, titled “We’ll Rock Them”. It has also completed writing a manifesto and printing campaign material.
Zanu PF luminary Emmerson Mna-ngagwa has been linked to the party as proposed leader. But Mnangagwa was yesterday quoted as saying it was “stupid” to claim he would be the leader of a party he did not even know existed.
“I have never heard about UPM. It is stupid to suggest that I would be its president when I am not even aware that there is such a political party,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying by local news website, ZimOnline.
“Nobody has ever approached me to join such a party and I will not be part of it.”
Ncube told journalists on Tuesday night that he would not join UPM. “If you have participated in the formation of a political party like I have and you have been in the trenches facing the wrath of Zanu PF, you would not want to go back and face the wrath of this government,” he said.
“Anyway, I would like to wish my friend Jonathan Moyo, if he is indeed involved, the best of luck. The job of creating a party from scratch is a very difficult one.”
In remarks widely seen as directed at Tsvangirai, Ncube warned that the biggest challenge facing the MDC was to avoid “becoming a monster in the process of fighting a monster”.