Sibanda to head pro-Senate group

HARARE - A faction of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party opposed to Morgan Tsvangirai has announced that Gibson Sibanda will act as party president. The spokesman for the group, Paul Themba Nyathi, said Sibanda, a long time ally of Tsvangirai from their days as

leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, was nominated acting president of the MDC at a meeting last week.

The MDC faction claims to have suspended Tsvangirai from the party although the High Court refused to endorse the suspension. Tsvangirai has dismissed the suspension saying only the MDC’s congress scheduled to meet at the end of February has powers to relieve him of his post.

Nyathi told Zimonline: “Sibanda was appointed acting president following the suspension of Tsvangirai by the national council last week. He (Sibanda) will be acting president till after the congress in February. The congress is expected to either come up with another president or elect Sibanda to take over the helm of the party.”

But Tsvangirai’s camp immediately dismissed the elevation of Sibanda saying it was an ill-advised and futile attempt to stage a palace coup against the opposition party’s leader.

MDC national youth chairman and spokesman for Tsvangirai’s group, Nelson Chamisa, said the post of party president was not vacant and it was unconstitutional for Sibanda to attempt to impose himself as acting president.

Chamisa said: “These palace coups do not work. There are normal processes if people want to get into power. Sibanda cannot be acting president because it is not constitutional and he also has a (disciplinary) case to answer. It would be difficult for anybody to purport to elevate him.”

The nomination of Sibanda as acting president is yet another confirmation that the six-year old MDC is set to split into two rival political parties at its February congress.

Already the two rival factions of the party are separately organising to host the congress with the greatest likelihood being that they will hold separate congresses, which will formalise the split in the party that had since its formation in 1999 appeared Zimbabweans’ best alternative to President Robert Mugabe and his ruling party.

While political analysts tip the immensely popular Tsvangirai to move away with the largest section of grassroots supporters, they say whoever emerges the winner in the internal war would find the battle to unseat Mugabe and Zanu (PF) even harder than before. – ZimOnline

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