Morgan Tsvangirai suspended, amid crisis in Zimbabwe’s Main opposition party

Morgan Tsvangirai suspended,
Morgan Tsvangirai suspended,

A faction in Zimbabwe’s main opposition movement has said it is no longer recognising Morgan Tsvangirai as the party leader, blaming “fascist” tendencies and his failure to oust President Robert Mugabe.

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The group led by Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said it had suspended Tsvangirai but their authority to do so was immediately disputed by rivals within the MDC.

Biti’s group accused Tsvangirai his lieutenants of resisting a leadership change after losing a third general election to Mugabe last July, and of using violence against internal challengers.

The 90-year-old Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 despite frequent western criticism over human rights and accusations of economic mismanagement.

In a statement after a day-long meeting, Biti’s faction said Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe had been suspended for deviating from democracy and failing to effectively tackle Mugabe.

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“The MDC as we know it has abandoned its original founding values and principles,” it said. “The party has been hijacked by a dangerous fascist clique bent on destroying the same and totally working against the working people of Zimbabwe.”

Tsvangirai’s faction dismissed the removal as unconstitutional and meaningless. “The MDC leadership cannot be changed by a bunch of desperate power-hungry officials, a minority that cannot win a leadership contest at party congress,” national party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told reporters.

Tsvangirai has resisted pressure to quit after losing the 2013 election, which he says was rigged by Mugabe’s supporters. Analysts predict the MDC will break apart.

The 62-year-old Tsvangirai has led the MDC since its formation in 1999, when the former trade unionist emerged as the biggest threat to Mugabe. But he has failed to dislodge his rival in three presidential polls that his MDC and many western observers say were neither free or fair.

While accusing Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of using violence and vote-rigging to retain power, some senior MDC officials also say Tsvangirai has become bogged down by sex scandals and failed to adopt the right tactics to win power.

An ally of Biti, Elton Mangoma, ignited debate over Tsvangirai with an open letter early this year calling on him to step down as party president.

He said Tsvangirai could no longer drive a reform agenda for Zimbabwe, having failed to do so in the four years he served as prime minister and shared executive powers with Mugabe. Their unity government ended last year and Zanu-PF has ruled alone since then.

Analysts say Tsvangirai’s MDC critics have so far failed convince the party’s national executive to hold an early congress before one scheduled for 2016. They have also struggled to persuade ordinary members that Tsvangirai is to blame for the MDC’s poll losses.

Reuters contributed to this report


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