Monday, June 17, 2013

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) No, the suite is mine, Biti tells Tsvangirai
Sunday, 16 June 2013 00:00
Sunday Mail Reporter

There was drama in Maputo, Mozambique, on Friday last week when the MDC-T secretary-general, Mr Tendai Biti, refused to move out of the spacious presidential suite at the five-star Radisson Blu Hotel to make way for his party’s leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who had arrived at the hotel a little late.

It is understood that repeated efforts by senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, who had made the bookings, to persuade Mr Biti to move out of the presidential suite, proved fruitless and in the end Mr Tsvangirai had to move to another hotel after refusing “to cheapen himself” by checking into the equally spacious ambassadorial suite at the same hotel.

Reports from Maputo say Mr Biti arrived at the hotel a few hours before Mr Tsvangirai and proceeded to check himself into the presidential suite at the recently opened hotel that boasts of 154 rooms, 20 of which are luxurious suites comprising of 16 junior suites, two senior suites, one ambassadorial suite and the presidential suite.

Mr Tsvangirai and his entourage arrived at the hotel later and were shocked to hear that Mr Biti was already enjoying the comfort of the presidential suite overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Officials from the PM’s Office were then dispatched to go and persuade Mr Biti to make way for his leader, but it is understood that the secretary-general told these officials that he would not move out.

“For a few minutes they tried to reason with (Mr) Biti at the door, but he refused to move, saying he had already unpacked his belongings after taking a shower.

“Later the officials went downstairs and before talking to Mr Tsvangirai, they inquired with the hotel management on an alternative room. They were told that there was an ambassadorial suite which was equally spacious.

“After this they went to inform Mr Tsvangirai who was clearly getting restless sitting at the hotel lobby. The Prime Minister told them that he could not stay in an ambassadorial suite while his junior was in the presidential suite. We could not hear what else he was saying, but Mr Tsvangiraiwas shaking his head in clear anger.

“After noticing that they were drawing attention from the other guests, Mr Tsvangirai and his entourage left in a huff,” said a Zimbabwean businessman who was at the hotel at the time on private business.

Efforts to get a comment from both Mr Biti and Mr Tsvangirai were fruitless yeterday as they were both holed up in Maputo.

Since coming into Government through the GPA, the MDC-T leadership in general has been accused of abandoning all its promises to the people as it embarked on corrupt activities to acquire personal wealth while Mr Tsvangirai in particular has been christened the “Legend of the Seas” following his lavish lifestyle and love scandals involving several women.

The feud between Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Biti comes amid reports that another split is imminent in the MDC-T this time centred on whether or not the party should participate in the forthcoming elections. This follows a ruling by the Constitutional Court ordering that elections be held by July 31.

Concerned MDC-T sources say there are indications that the looming split could be bigger than the October 2005 one which saw Professor Welshman Ncube and other officials leaving the party.

“There are some colleagues in the party (MDC-T) who have tested power by being Parliamentarians and therefore don’t want to hear anything about boycotting the forthcoming elections as was suggested by PM Tsvangirai after the Constitutional Court ruling.

“What has also enraged the PM’s loyalists is that they think Mr Biti is behind some of the anti-Tsvangirai articles that have been appearing in most Western newspapers.

They think these stories are meant to de-campaign the PM while at the same time preparing the groundwork for what is now known in the party as the 2016 Biti project where they say Mr Biti is making himself ready to takeover the party after the PM’s defeat in the forthcoming elections,” said the MDC-T source adding that revelations by NCA chairman Professor Lovemore Madhuku confirming the existence of project 2016 has worsened the suspicion against Mr Biti.

The source said Mr Biti and his group have taken a position that the party will not boycott the forthcoming elections and this was even confirmed by reports from the Sadc Summit in Maputo yesterday where the MDC-T secretary general was overheard saying:

“There was no reason for us to come here because elections are coming and they will be held on July 31 as was ordered by the Constitutional Court.”

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