Monday, May 13, 2013

Showdown in MDC-T over coalition
Sunday, 12 May 2013 00:00
Busani Ncube

The MDC-T leadership is divided over a proposal for the party to forge an alliance with the Professor Welshman Ncube-led MDC formation ahead of the forthcoming national elections with three Bulawayo-based senior officials threatening to resign if reunification talks between the two parties open.

MDC-T insiders revealed that a national executive council meeting held at the party’s headquarters last week degenerated into a bout of fiery verbal exchanges between a clique pushing for the coalition and an opposing group.

The insiders said deputy party leader Ms Thokozani Khupe; national chairman Mr Lovemore Moyo and deputy national organising secretary Mr Abedinico Bhebhe threatened to quit their posts after the pro-Ncube group led by Public Service Minister Ms Lucia Matibenga sought to push through the proposal.

Contacted for comment last Friday, Ms Matibenga would not be drawn into shedding light on the circumstances leading to the divisions.
She referred all questions to MDC-T national spokesman Mr Douglas Mwonzora who, in turn, tried to downplay the source of the divisions.
He, however, confirmed that tempers flared when “certain issues” were presented for discussion.

Insiders revealed that Ms Matibenga feared the party would lose many seats in Matabeleland given the inroads Prof Ncube has made and Zanu-PF’s robust empowerment policies.

“Matibenga is the one who moved the motion for the coalition during the meeting. She said she was aware that some people were against the idea and that such people were from Bulawayo,” said the sources.

“She said the party performed badly in Bulawayo during the 2008 harmonised elections. Though we won seats, she said, the winning margins were very small and that cannot be a basis on which we can rightly say we will perform better there.

“She told the meeting that it was, therefore, necessary for the party to consider formal talks with the other group. In Luveve, our candidate, Reggie Moyo, got 3 325 votes against Mr Essaph Mdlongwa of the MDC led by Prof Ncube who got 4 178.

“In Bulawayo Central, Ms Dorcas Sibanda of MDC-T got 3 786 whereas Mr Japhet Ncube of the Prof Ncube MDC got 3 553. In Magwegwe constituency, Mr Felix Magalela Mafa got 2 979 votes whereas Mr Fletcher Dulini Ncube of the other MDC formation got 2 434 votes.”

It is understood the remarks drew fiery responses from MDC-T Matabeleland leaders such as Ms Khupe, Mr Moyo and Mr Bhebhe.

The three are said to have shot down the motion much to the consternation of members rooting for the coalition.

The sources said some senior MDC-T officials, among them Mr Elton Mangoma, are already making moves to lure Prof Ncube’s lieutenants by promising them senior posts in the event of an MDC-T electoral victory. The governorship of Matabeleland South and several ministerial posts are believed to be among the draw cards that Mr Mangoma and company are putting up.

“Khupe, Moyo and Bhebhe shot down Matibenga’s motion, arguing that it belittled their ‘hard work’ in Matabeleland. They threatened to resign from their positions if the party began formal coalition talks with Prof Ncube’s MDC,” said the sources.

Mr Mwonzora tried to downplay the divisions when contacted for comment, saying the national council meeting focused on MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s discredited visit to African leaders to campaign for the postponement of national elections scheduled to be held by June 29.

“It is a creative work to allege that there was ever any talk or threat about any member of the party resigning. We only discussed issues on the agenda and there was nothing about resignations on the agenda of the day.

“Our meeting deliberated on Mr Tsvangirai’s Sadc tour, elections and other things. Of course, in such serious meetings, some issues raise emotions.

“Why would we unite with people who have openly told the world that they are not willing to work with us? Just why?”

The united MDC split in 2006 following disagreements over the party’s participation in Senatorial elections. Prof Ncube and other pro-Senate members grouped themselves while another faction remained under the leadership of Mr Tsvangirai.

Recently, Prof Ncube ruled out reuniting with MDC-T, arguing their line of thought remains different.



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