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MDC banishes ‘rebels’

Ray Matikinye/Loughty Dube

THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) national council yesterday passed a vote of no confidence in executive members of the pro-senate faction, barring them from carrying out pa

rty functions until the party congress next year.

The resolution suspends deputy president Gibson Sibanda, secretary-general Welshman Ncube and his deputy Gift Chimanikire, treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, information and publicity secretary Paul Themba Nyathi and secretary for policy and research Trudy Stevenson.

At a meeting attended by 57 of the 66-member council, the body adopted a resolution to “dissociate with the pro-senate group” by invoking members’ constitutional right to freedom of association.

“The council resolves that pending their availability for party business, the national council resolves to exercise its freedom of association by not associating with the deputy president, secretary-general, deputy secretary-general, the treasurer-general, the secretary for information and publicity and the secretary for policy and research, among others,” says the resolution passed by delegates from all provinces except Matabeleland South.

Analysts say the resolution was crafted in such a manner as to hobble efforts by the pro-senate group to take their case to court over party assets.

In what is seen as a victory for party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and chairman Isaac Matongo against the pro-senate group, the national council reposed authority to convene all future council meetings in the secretariat while stripping Welshman Ncube of his administrative duties to arrange such meetings.

Youth chairman and MP for Kuwadzana Nelson Chamisa was mandated to take over the role of party spokesman from Nyathi.

The national council resolved that in the absence of Ncube, Dulini-Ncube, and Nyathi since October 12 when differences over participation in senatorial election split the party into two factions, Isaac Matongo would take over their functions.

The council also nullified Tsvangirai’s suspension from the party by the pro-senate group while upholding the suspension imposed on Job Sikhala, MP for St Mary’s.

Sikhala was suspended for his allegations that the MDC received funding from Taiwan, Nigeria and Ghana. He later retracted the allegations.

But the pro-senate group, which rebuffed yesterday’s meeting, fired its own salvo, saying it would not attend a “kangaroo” meeting by a former leader who now has no mandate to call meetings.

Commenting on the resolution to “dissociate” from them, Nyathi said it was misplaced and had no legal standing. It was carried out by people with nothing constructive to do, he said.

“How do you stop a political activist from doing what he has dedicated his life to doing?” Nyathi said.

“It is the most puerile resolution from anyone claiming a desire to confront this regime. It’s nothing exciting. They assume we want to associate with them.”

He disputed the composition of the meeting that resolved to “dissociate” itself from the pro-senate group, saying nine of the provinces did not attend the meeting. Nyathi said those who attended were picked from the streets for the purpose of achieving a quorum.

“That is what people like us are uncomfortable with,” he said.

The two groups are embroiled in an argument over the suspension of Tsvangirai by the Sibanda-led disciplinary committee whose composition has come under the spotlight.

Nyathi said the party would still take Tsvangirai to a disciplinary hearing before congress.

Tsvangirai has scoffed at the suspension saying only the MDC national congress can suspend him.

MDC legal affairs secretary David Coltart said the disciplinary committee had powers to suspend anyone in the party including the president, according to Article 10.4 of the MDC founding constitution.

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