DIVISIONS in the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC widened this week after the party suspended two more MPs on allegations of unbecoming conduct prejudicial to the party’s interest and reputation.
This took place amid reports the party secretary-general Welshman Ncube had threatened to quit the MDC if its leadership refused to take disciplinary action against defiant lawmakers and members of the party’s national executive.
The MDC suspended Gwanda North MP Zinti Mnkandla and Tsholotsho South lawmaker Maxwell Dube, bringing to five the number of legislators the party has suspended in the past fortnight for allegedly plotting to ouster the leadership.
First to be suspended were Nkayi South MP Abednico Bhebhe, Lupane East lawmaker Njabuliso Mguni and Bulilima East legislator Norman Mpofu. The party also suspended its national executive members Job Sikhala and Alex Goosen and youth assembly chairperson Gift Nyandoro.
Sikhala has since resigned from the party.
Sources in the MDC said Mnkandla and Dube received their suspension letters yesterday dated May 7 and were signed by former MP Trudy Stevenson on behalf the national chairman of the party’s disciplinary committee, Lyson Mlambo.
The two lawmakers will soon be summoned to a disciplinary hearing on charges of “conduct unbecoming and prejudicial to the interest and reputation of the party”.
The sources said the MDC held a management committee meeting in Harare last week where Mutambara and his deputy Gibson Sibanda wanted charges against the lawmakers and national executive members dropped, but Ncube reportedly threatened to quit in protest.
Ncube, with the support of his deputy Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga and treasurer-general Fletcher Dulini Ncube, prevailed and this resulted in last week’s suspension of Bhebhe, Mguni and Mpofu, Goosen, Sikhala and Nyandoro.
The suspended party members were accused of plotting to oust Mutambara, Ncube and Misihairabwi-Mushonga for allegedly failing to consult the party during talks that culminated in the formation of the inclusive government on February 13.
The three party leaders were also accused of making the MDC an extension of Zanu PF.
“He (Ncube) controls the party, his word is final regardless of the popular sentiments by members,” one of the sources said. “When the leadership met last week he threatened to quit if the six party members where not suspended.”
The sources said Ncube had since instructed Mlambo’s disciplinary committee to expel from the party the suspended members. Mlambo yesterday denied receiving instructions from Ncube, who is also Minister Industry and Commerce.
“This is mere speculation. The disciplinary committee has not yet sat to hear submissions from the suspended members. So nobody knows the outcome of the hearing,” Mlambo said. “They might not be any expulsion as people are now speculating.”
Efforts to get a comment from Ncube yesterday were in vain.
Mpofu yesterday said his suspension was orchestrated by a senior leader of the party who was opposed to “dissenting voices”, while Bhebhe claimed that the disciplinary committee had been instructed to expel him.
“I understand that there is an instruction from someone in the leadership to fire people,” Bhebhe claimed.
“It could be me, Mguni or Mpofu. Our suspension is null and void and was unprocedural.”
He declined to disclose who wanted them arrested. Bhebhe said he would challenge his suspension.
“I will not attend the disciplinary hearing and I will not even appeal the suspension slapped on me,” Mguni said.Â “I will have to make it clear to the party leadership that I was voted into power by the people of Lupane and that they are the only ones who can suspend me from representing them.”
At the weekend, suspended lawmakers addressed two rallies in Lupane in Matabeleland North and Umzingwane in Matabeleland South where people from the two areas said were not happy with the party’s decision to suspend the legislators.
The Lupane rally held at Mlonyeni was attended by Bhebhe, Dube and Senator Dalumuzi Khumalo, while deputy House of Assembly Speaker Nomalanga Mzilikazi Khumalo addressed a rally in her Umzingwane constituency where the state of the party was discussed, among other issues.
In his address, Bhebhe lashed at the party leadership and said their suspension was null and void.
Bhebhe said. “The decision to suspend us is null and void. When we split from the MDC there are some people who said they wanted to suspend (Morgan) Tsvangirai and today these are the same people who claim they have suspended us. They forget that they are the same people who were suspended by the people of Bulawayo during elections last year.”
However, party supporters accused Bhebhe and Mguni of having misled them to back the MDC and independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni in last year’s harmonised polls.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE AND LOUGHTY DUBE