OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces prospects of a messy internal revolt after members of his national executive reportedly defied his orders to dismiss Harare town clerk, James Mushore.
Council on Thursday last week suspended Mushore at the behest of Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere who argues Mushore was illegally hired.
The MDC-T national executive has decided to stand up to Kasukuwere, resolving at a meeting last week to block the contentious ZANU-PF secretary for the commissariat’s interference.
But, sources within Zimbabwe’s main opposition party say Tsvangirai is not reading from the same page as his own executive, amid reports that Kasukuwere has threatened to evict him from the Highlands State mansion he has occupied since his days as prime minister if he fails to influence Mushore’s expulsion.
It is alleged Tsvangirai had earlier tried without success to impress on the executive to comply with Kasukuwere’s orders.
Tsvangirai, it is further alleged, agreed at that meeting to tow the party line, but allegedly went secretly to acting mayor, Chris Mbanga, and instructed him to get Mushore ousted.
Council then subsequently sent the town clerk on unpaid forced leave.
The decision has now angered MDC-T bigwigs who accuse Tsvangirai of being double-faced, saying he appears to be going along with the others publicly, but gives contrary instructions to Mbanga.
“Where do you think Mbanga is getting the power to defy the party position like that? It’s all coming from the top man,” said a senior MDC-T official who declined to be named.
There are now fears within the 17-year-old movement that the party could suffer yet another split as the national executive committee refuses to back down from its hard-line stance.
Some top party members are already appearing to doubt their party’s ability to win the forthcoming 2018 general elections that would allow them to govern the country.
“The whole thing is becoming a circus now. For a political party that aspires to form the next government, we can certainly do much better than this,” said another member of the MDC-T national executive committee who also declined to be identified.
Barely two years ago, the party plunged into turmoil after Tendai Biti — its former secretary-general led a rebellion against Tsvangirai — leading to the formation of a new party called the People’s Democratic Party which Biti is now leading as president.
This was the second split inside a decade.
When the MDC-T split in 2005, it was Welshman Ncube, the party’s then secretary-general, who fomented its fragmentation, unhappy with Tsvangirai’s style of leadership.
Impeccable sources told the Financial Gazette this week that on the same day that the Mbanga-led council suspended Mushore, MDC-T secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora, summoned all 35 MDC-T councillors to the party’s Harvest House headquarters in Harare and read the riot act.
Mwonzora is said to have strongly reprimanded the city fathers, ordering them to reverse Mushore’s suspension. He also had them sign a petition to that effect.
The cowed councillors, sources said, are now expected to convene another special council meeting at Town House on Monday next week to call Mushore back at work after 33 councillors signed the petition.
“Mwonzora summoned them to Harvest House soon after they suspended Mushore and read them the riot act. He openly ordered them to bring Mushore back to work in compliance with the party position,” said another senior member of the MDC-T national executive committee.
“Mwonzora made it clear that the party would not hesitate to recall them should they disobey directives.
“He told them in no uncertain terms that they were not at large to do as they pleased because the rights of Harare residents were at stake because of Kasukuwere’s politics. He accused them of being sell outs who were giving in to Kasukuwere’s unconstitutional demands,” the source added.
Mwonzora confirmed summoning the councillors in an interview on Monday, but denied that it was meant to revolt against Tsvangirai.
“We are not in any way revolting against the president. In fact, Tsvangirai is against any breach of the Constitution from Kasukuwere or anyone. Those councillors should not have suspended Mushore in the first place given that the matter is still pending in court,” Mwonzora said. financial gazette