Party sources said that a faction loyal to the party’s secretary-general, Tendai Biti, who is reportedly positioning himself to take over from the party’s president, Morgan Tsvangirai has been working with rebels to weaken the party leader.
MDC-T councillors in areas such as Mutare, Gweru, Redcliff, Kwekwe and Victoria Falls voted for some Zanu (PF) candidates in the recent mayoral elections.
In Gweru, the councillors rejected Charles Chikozho, whom Tsvangirai preferred and voted for Hamutendi Kombayi, who was supposed to have contested the post of deputy mayor.
Kombayi and his deputy, Artwell Matyorauta, together with eight other councillors, have since been expelled by their party.
In Mutare, the councillors opted for Tatenda Nhamarare, while the party had preferred Thomas Nyamupanedengu.
However, Nhemarare has since been dismissed by the MDC-T, together with three other councillors who are accused of crossing the floor and voting for a Zanu (PF) candidate, Collin Mukwada, for the position of deputy mayor.
The sources said that plans for Tsvangirai’s ousting had intensified after his losing to Mugabe in the July 31 elections. Tsvangirai managed 33 per cent of the total votes against Mugabe’s 61 per cent.
Roy Bennett, a key member of the party who was responsible for finance and fundraising, recently called on Tsvangirai to step down and make way for a new leadership.
One of the sources told The Zimbabwean that influential members of the secretariat deliberately withheld funds during the MDC-T campaign ahead of the 2013 polls, resulting in candidates being asked to fund their activities from their own pockets.
“Provincial, district and ward structures hardly got any money from the party to use for the campaigns. We heard of reports that there were some people who did not want Tsvangirai to win, as that would make their plans for taking over from him difficult. There was a severe shortage of regalia, polling agents received their money late and candidates had no choice but to use the little money they had to campaign. Whatever came was too late, and that might be one reason why we lost,” said the source.
The sources alleged that some of the councillors who voted against the party’s chosen candidates had Biti’s support.
“Even though he (Biti) is part of the party’s top brass, he has since the period before the elections been secretly mobilising support against Tsvangirai and in some instances would urge defiance of Tsvangirai’s decisions.
“During the campaign period, Biti did little as secretary-general to campaign for the party, but was instead manipulating party structures in his bid to undermine Tsvangirai and eventually take over from him,” said the source.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora acknowledged that it was likely that the rebels were receiving internal support.
“There are instances when the councillors voted for the party’s choices as in Harare and there are instances where the councillors did not vote for the party’s preferred candidates, but went on to vote for another MDC-T councillor. That could be attributed to group influences,” said Mwonzora.
He said that in cases where MDC-T councillors voted for Zanu (PF), there was a possibility that some of them were given cash and other incentives by the rival party.
The Youth Assembly Secretary for Information, Clifford Hlatshwayo, said that reports of rebellion had the potential to cause unrest, especially at grassroots level.
He said that in light of the challenge, the Youth Assembly had intensified mobilisation and education campaigns aimed at reaffirming that Tsvangirai was still in charge.
“Our message is that we should remain united and resolute in our founding principles. The position of the youths is that Morgan Tsvangirai is the person who carries the hopes and aspirations of a better Zimbabwe,” said Hlatshwayo.Post published in: News