Deputy accuses Zimbabwe opposition leader of abuse

By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader flouted the party’s constitution and abused his position by ordering a boycott of senate elections next month, plunging the organisation into crisis, his deputy said on Wednesday.

Movement

for Democratic Change (MDC) president Morgan Tsvangirai said last week he was using his authority to stop the party from participating in the elections on Nov. 26, but his top lieutenants have rejected his stance, triggering the party’s worst crisis since it was formed in 1999.

In a statement on Wednesday, MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda said Tsvangirai had wilfully violated the party’s constitution and breached its provisions by overriding the party’s decision making national council which voted 33 to 31 in favour of contesting the ballot.

“Although the president of the MDC is mandated … to act as party spokesperson on major policy issues … the proviso makes it clear that … he may not do anything contrary to the party’s principle of open, transparent and democratic decision making,” Sibanda said.

“The party is determined to uphold these principles and values and will not allow one person or a group of persons to destroy them.”

Tsvangirai says the polls are part of a drive by President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party to consolidate its grip on power, but other MDC leaders fear that if the party does not take part, it will be further edged out of national politics.

Earlier on Wednesday, Tsvangirai’s top five lieutenants postponed a news conference after the opposition party chief summoned his deputy.

Sibanda declined to give details of his meeting with Tsvangirai, but denied the MDC faced an imminent split.

The MDC’s leadership had been expected to hold a crisis meeting on Wednesday afternoon, but officials said it still had not begun by early evening.

The official Herald newspaper said on Tuesday the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had rebuffed attempts by Tsvangirai to block MDC members from filing nomination papers next Monday ahead of the vote for the restored second chamber of parliament.

Tsvangirai says the senate polls are likely to be rigged by ZANU-PF, which has denied previous charges of electoral fraud levied by both the MDC and several Western countries.

The MDC faction that backs participation says a boycott of the senate vote would merely widen ZANU-PF’s already comfortable majority in parliament to the detriment of democracy in the southern African state. — Reuter