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MDC in death fight

Dumisani Muleya

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is locked in increasingly rancorous political combat, appeared yesterday rigidly determined to self-destruct.

The very public power struggle within the ranks of the MDC – triggered by a dispute over the forthcoming senate election – continued unabated after party leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday avoided a critical meeting with senior officials.

The MDC crisis meeting was initially scheduled for Wednesday afternoon following emergency talks between Tsvangirai and his deputy Gibson Sibanda who later lambasted his boss for “willfully violating” the party’s constitution.

Tsvangirai’s faction lost the MDC’s national council vote by 31-33 on the senate election debate before staging a coup against the party’s constitution. The MDC leader resorted to martial law-style tactics to suppress what he sees as a revolt against his leadership.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube’s camp is resisting the assault on the party’s structures and Tsvangirai’s attempt to block its candidates from contesting the poll.

“The meeting failed to take place yesterday,” a source said, “because Tsvangirai decided to go on his anti-senate campaign in Manicaland. “The party’s other five top officials were on their way to Tsvangirai’s house when they were told he was on his way to Manicaland. They were later informed the meting might take place tomorrow (today).”

After squandering another chance to resolve the crisis, the MDC appeared to be irretrievably heading for a breakup unless today’s meeting produces a resolution.

Sources said the situation had deteriorated into a state of anarchy because central authority in the party has collapsed. The MDC was now widely seen as being run by parallel command structures.

“No one is really in control,” a source said. “Everybody is just muddling through. Neither faction is yielding ground.”

But sources said some of the more thoughtful officials in the Tsvangirai camp were beginning to realise the crisis was not only damaging individuals but also the organisation and now needed a quick resolution. The same applied to some in the Ncube faction.

Due to worsening turmoil, it was no longer clear what the level of support for each of the factions was at provincial level as almost everyone was now able to speak on behalf of the party and pass their opinions off as official positions.

Tsvangirai’s intransigence persisted even after his camp suffered initial setbacks this week following a rejection of his appeal to the electoral authorities for the banning of the Ncube faction’s candidates from nomination.

The Ncube camp was also not helping matters as it sought to hold fast to its position, although its process of selecting candidates for the poll ahead of nomination on Monday had been thrown into serious disarray by the chaos engulfing the party.

“The longer this crisis remains, the greater the damage to us becomes,” a senior MDC official said last night. “No one will emerge a winner out of this clumsy power struggle. It’s a lose-lose situation for both factions.”

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