New party on the cards

Speculation is mounting that Tendai Biti, Secretary General of the MDC-T, could soon lead a breakaway party following a recent visit to South Africa. The Zimbabwean is reliably informed that Biti flew to Johannesburg on Friday in the company of Arnold Tsunga, a party heavyweight from Manicaland and a Harare-based ambassador (name withheld) to meet treasurer Roy Bennett and other top party members.

Tendai Biti
Tendai Biti

Sources say the formation of a splinter party, to be called the Progressive Democratic Movement in Zimbabwe (PDMZ), is on the cards as calls for leadership renewal mount. Details of the meeting were not available at the time of going to print. Calls to Biti and Tsunga went unanswered while Bennett did not respond to questions sent via his Skype account. According to a source from party president Morgan Tsvangirai’s security department, the group that met in South Africa holds the keys to party finances.

“This group was in charge of party money and will go with it. Right now, there are no funds to cover operational costs and other programmes as the faction (opposed to Tsvangirai) has blocked donors from giving him money. Instead, they are the ones that will get all the funding,” said the source.

He claimed that the group had deliberately underfunded the party’s campaign ahead of the 2013 general elections as a way of undermining Tsvangirai.

The MDC, formed in 1999, has already suffered two splits. In 2005, Welshman Ncube led a splinter group following squabbles over the reintroduction of the Senate, while Job Sikhala subsequently broke away accusing Tsvangirai of dictatorship.

Before his visit, Biti told this newspaper that he was not comfortable talking about succession in his party as “too many dangerous things” were happening.

“Mhepo dzakawandisa mazuva ano (There are too many bad omens in the party the days). I will talk on anything but succession; I don’t want to divide the party. What you say can easily be misinterpreted,” Biti said. A few days later his Umwinsdale home was petrol bombed by unknown assailants.

A few weeks ago he had to scurry for cover after a Harare meeting when youths reportedly aligned to Tsvangirai bayed for his blood. He escaped in the party boss’s car but Mangoma, Bennett’s deputy who had previously written a letter encouraging Tsvangirai to step aside and allow for leadership renewal, was beaten up.

The Zimbabwean has confirmed that Tsvangirai has suspended the Chief of Staff at Harvest House, Toendepi Shonhe, whom he accused of being aligned to the Biti faction. According to the security source, Tsvangirai loyalists are planning to attack Willias Madzimure, a senior party member, Jacob Mafume, the legal advisor who is representing Mangoma in the assault case, Shonhe and Paul Madzore, among others seen to be aligned to Biti.

“After the rally that was held in Budiriro last Sunday, Tsvangirai is planning to hold another one in Chitungwiza soon and youths are saying they want to flush out those opposed to the president. We are having a tough time holding them back,” said the source.

Lovemore Moyo, the national chair, and Tsvangirai’s deputy, Thokozani Khupe, have so far not indicated any preference. But Ian Makone, Tsvangirai’s former personal adviser, seems to be supporting Biti.

Post published in: News
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