via MDC supporters back Tsvangirai – DailyNews Live by Tendai Kamhungira and Mugove Tafirenyika 28 APRIL 2014
Thousands of angry MDC supporters gathered at the party’s Harare headquarters, Harvest House, yesterday to express their solidarity with their leader Morgan Tsvangirai following Saturday’s brazen rebellion by some of the party’s senior officials, including secretary-general Tendai Biti.
The overwhelming support will have come as a welcome respite for the beleaguered MDC president and his close lieutenants over a weekend in which Biti, the party’s de facto number two, finally came out in the open in his opposition to Tsvangirai after months of frenzied speculation and strenuous denials.
On the other hand, the rebels would have seen from the mad supporters — if ever any of them was in Central Harare yesterday — that they were facing a battle royale if their mission to wrestle power in the party is to succeed.
Long fingered as the main player behind the so-called renewal team, Biti was part of the faction that congregated on Saturday to “suspend” Tsvangirai and other senior MDC leaders such as vice president Thokozani Khupe, national chairman Lovemore Moyo, organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora after an executive meeting of the rebels.
That dramatic development played out as another damning MDC dossier surfaced claiming that a group of Rhodies, comprising of mainly disillusioned former commercial farmers, was heavily involved in the alleged multi-pronged plot to destroy Tsvangirai and effect illegal leadership change in the MDC.
The pumped-up supporters who converged at Harvest House yesterday had erroneously learnt that Tsvangirai was going to convene a party meeting there to respond to his supposed suspension.
They sang, danced, chanted pro-Tsvangirai slogans and belligerently bayed for the blood of the rebels as they waited in vain for their popular leader.
The frenzied gathering, that braved even yesterday afternoon’s rains, was later addressed and calmed down by Chamisa and Mwonzora who had addressed a media conference at the party headquarters earlier.
Heavily-armed police kept a beady eye all day on the demonstration of power by Tsvangirai’s supporters.
Meanwhile, Mwonzora told an earlier media conference that the MDC was seriously considering expelling Biti and recalling him from Parliament as allegedly demanded by his Harare East constituency.
He also thoroughly rubbished the supposed “suspension” of Tsvangirai and other senior MDC leaders by the rebels.
He said party members in the Harare East constituency were in the process of drafting a petition stating how Biti was no longer representing their interests in Parliament.
Mwonzora was flanked at the media conference by Chamisa, Eric Matinenga and Obert Gutu among other senior MDC luminaries.
Tsvangirai was said to be addressing a rally in his rural home of Buhera.
The MDC spokesman said the party would be guided, in all this, by the country’s Constitution which stipulated that if a Member of Parliament was recalled by his or her party, that legislator would cease to be an MP and a by-election would have to be held for that constituency.
“He (Biti) went against the party constitution. We are obviously going to consider expelling the secretary-general from the party and recall him from Parliament. We are worried about a secretary-general who preaches and breaches the constitution,” Mwonzora said.
The MDC also warned Parliament against being used by individuals who disregarded the law with gay abandon.
Mwonzora said Biti and expelled deputy treasurer-general, Elton Mangoma, were also under investigation for misuse of party property, adding that they were allegedly using party property in their private companies.
At the “bogus meeting” of the MDC rebels, Biti was mandated with writing to Parliament to notify the speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, that no parliamentarian or councillor would be fired unless there was in the constitution of the MDC a clause that called for recalls.
Mwonzora said Biti’s meeting showed that he had formed his own political party and would bear the consequences.
He further said Biti’s “bogus” meeting had been attended by only nine out of 91 party MPs, while only 33 out of 195 members of the national council had been present there. With regards to the national executive council which has a total of 54 members, only eight attended the meeting.
He said some of the people who attended Biti’s meetings were from Welshman Ncube’s MDC faction as well as the Zimbabwe Institute, which he claimed was working as intermediary between the renewal team and outside forces.
Mwonzora told the gathered journalists that the fact that the Biti meeting had not been held at the party’s headquarters showed that it was meant to be clandestine and never meant to be transparent.
He added that Biti as secretary-general had no locus standi to convene a national council, national executive and national standing committee meeting without the approval of Tsvangirai.
Mwonzora claimed that despite months of strenuous denials about Biti’s leadership renewal campaign, Tsvangirai had known about it for a long time, adding that it was clear that Biti and his “cronies” were working with Zanu PF and State security agents to destabilise the MDC.
He described Biti as a political opportunist, who sometimes “confuses the good lawyer, the politician and the opportunist in him”.
He also denied allegations that Tsvangirai had abused funds, adding that his party would “definitely” survive both the putsch and its lack of funding.
He said in any event, Biti and Mangoma had been responsible for the party’s finances and should know better about where they put the party’s money.
Meanwhile, the Tsvangirai faction is on Tuesday expected to convene its own national council meeting which will formally decide Biti’s fate.