MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti will not be part of the inclusive government to be sworn in next week amid reports that he opted out because he was not happy with his party’s decision to work with Zanu PF.
Sources said Biti told the MDC-T leadership that he would not accept nomination as a cabinet minister, but would remain secretary-general to help rebuild the party and strengthen its structures.
The sources said Biti wanted to play a role similar to that of the secretary-general of the African National Congress of South Africa who usually is not part of the government, but the chief executive officer of the party.
“His decision to opt out of government will weaken the opposition in the new government,” one of the sources said. “Biti indicated to the party that he was very tired of the politics of attrition against Zanu PF, which he has been engaged in for the past 10 years.”
However, other sources in the party said Biti was not going into the cabinet because he was bitter that the MDC-T national council agreed last week to join the unity government with President Robert Mugabe and the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara before the resolution of outstanding issues.
The sources said Biti and a group of hardliners failed to convince the national council to reject the power-sharing government as outlined by Sadc on January 27.
Biti’s stance contradicted that of Tsvangirai who had “partially” agreed before Sadc heads of state and government to join the unity government and deal with the outstanding issues later.
“The bid to block the formation of the unity government by the hardliners is seen as part ofÂ a power-struggle between Biti and Tsvangirai,” another source added. “Biti wanted a very senior post in the inclusive government, but he failed and that is the reason why he will not be a cabinet minister in the government.”
There have been several reports of infighting between Tsvangirai and Biti since the signing of the power-sharing deal last September, which the MDC-T repeatedly denied.
The sources said Biti requested the MDC-T leadership that he disengages from other demanding responsibilities to concentrate on the party.
The first disengagement, the sources said, was Biti’s refusal to be appointed onto the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) last Friday.
The 12-member Jomic was charged with the responsibility to assess the implementation of the unity government deal and would also receive complaints on the breaches of the pact.
The MDC-T appointed Elton Mangoma, Tabitha Khumalo, Innocent Chagonda and Elias Mudzuri to represent it on the commission, while Zanu PF has Patrick Chinamasa, Nicholas Goche, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Oppah Muchinguri.
Welshman Ncube, Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Frank Chamunorwa and Edward Mkhosi represent the MDC.Â Â Â Â
“Biti also indicated that he wanted to concentrate on his law firm,” another source said.
BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE