via MDC-T cracks down on open dissent | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda on Wednesday, October 9, 2013
The MDC-T has started its crackdown on errant members to ensure they toe the line, the party spokesman said on Wednesday.
The party on Tuesday suspended Ian Kay, the losing parliamentary candidate for Marondera Central, for calling on Morgan Tsvangirai to step down as leader.
Douglas Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa that Kay ignored the existence of party rules and went off track to not only criticize the president but use wrong channels to air his personal opinions.
Kay recently told the media that the MDC-T was like a ‘soccer team’ and, ‘if the coach continues losing, there is need for the technical board to sit down and deal with the issue.’
He continued: ‘There is need to plan ahead before the ship sinks and if there is need to change the coach, then let it be. Or should I say it is like a rusty bolt? There is need for it to be removed and replaced with a new one, rather than leave it like that.’
Tsvangirai has however vowed that he would step down only if voted out at congress in 2016 and asked the provincial leadership in Mashonaland East to investigate Kay’s conduct, for allegedly using public media to discredit the party.
‘The leadership of the MDC-T believes Kay, as a senior member of the party, went off track. He did not show respect and adherence to the guiding principles of the party. He did not completely follow basic rules and regulations.’
Mwonzora reiterated that Kay was not being punished for what he said but the central issue was that of procedure, pointing out that the former MP was not an authorized person to speak to the media on party policy.
‘His crime is not expressing his personal opinion, we do that in the MDC and we have platforms for doing that internally. He should not have said that to outsiders where he ended up causing despondency within the party,’ Mwonzora added.
A source told us that the party was also facing massive pressure from its supporters for not taking action against Kay because he is white, whilst black members are allegedly dealt with swiftly and harshly.
Political analyst Gideon Chitanga said in any democratic dispensation people are free to express themselves, speak their mind and criticise their leaders but in a responsible way.
‘Political parties are like any other institution, they have their own rules of governance and Kay should have used those channels.
‘Individual party members must not be gagged, they must be relatively free to voice dissent or float distinctive arguments,’ Chitanga said.
Chitanga said the net effect of Kay’s actions was well exploited by the state media and ZANU PF as evidence of divisions in MDC-T ranks.
Despite Mwonzora’s defence of the way the MDC-T have been handling this issue, there has been much criticism of their approach in various social media forums. People have expressed concern that the MDC-T is behaving exactly the same as ZANU PF and that any criticism of the leadership is not allowed.