Monday, November 04, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) MDC-T: Tsvangirai leadership debate non-racial
10/10/2013 00:00:00
by Gilbert Nyambabvu

THE MDC-T admitted Thursday that internal debate was ongoing among senior members over whether Morgan Tsvangirai should remain party leader but insisted that discussions were non-racial after only white members openly called for the ex-premier’s ouster.

National spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora, told a press conference in Harare that the MDC-T’s national executive – the party’s top policy making body - had discussed the question of leadership renewal following the July 31 elections.

The party is engaged in some soul-searching after its disastrous performance in the elections which it lost with a landslide to Zanu PF.

The MDC-T won just 49 seats in the lower house of parliament while Tsvangirai managed 34 percent of the presidential vote against 61 percent for President Robert Mugabe.

Senior party officials have publicly called for Tsvangirai’s removal as leader as the party looks to regroup for the 2018 vote.
Mwonzora admitted the party’s national executive had discussed the issue adding views were as diverse and varied.

“Yes there are people who have raised the issue (of leadership renewal) in the national executive, in the national council and various at fora. But we also have people who have said they do not think it’s a good idea and that we should remain with the leadership we have,” he said.

Those leading calls for Tsvangirai’s removal include treasurer general Roy Bennett as well as senior officials such as Ian Kay who has since been suspended over the issue pending a disciplinary hearing.

But Mwonzora insisted that the fact Bennett and Kay, who are seen to represent the white former commercial faming community in the party, did not make the leadership debate a racial issue.

“Let me say that the debate in the party has no colour; it does not have a colour dimension,” he said.

“The fact that Ian Kay says it (that Tsvangirai should be removed) and that Bennett says it does not mean all white people in the MDC (are saying the same thing); it also does not mean some black members are not saying it.

“We have noticed that sections of the media are trying to make this a racial issue but it is not a racial issue. That is why, for example, Eddie Cross does not say (Tsvangirai must go); that is why Ian Kay’s wife who is a member of the national executive does not say what her husband is saying.

“To make this a racial issue is therefore very regrettable. However I want to say that Tsvangirai himself has permitted this debate in the party at whatever level. But what is not acceptable is debating outside the party and with non-party members.”

Tsvangirai has led the MDC-T since its formation in 1999 and recently said he would put himself up for re-election when he completes his current term at the party’s next elective congress in 2016.

The former premier recently said he would step down if the general membership felt the party needed a new leadership but insisted he would not be pushed out by a “few voices in the media”.

Meanwhile Mwonzora also said disciplinary proceedings were ongoing against party officials who defied instructions from the leadership and voted for Zanu PF candidates in last month’s mayoral elections.

“The MDC internal investigation on its councillors who defied the party?s Constitution and rules is on-going in Mutare, Victoria Falls, Redcliff, Norton and Gweru,” he said.

“A report will be made public as soon as the investigations are complete. However, no councillor or mayor has been expelled from the party contrary to some media reports and are they carrying out their duties as elected local council authorities.”


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