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MDC tension reaches boiling point

By Angus Shaw

Harare – Allegations of corruption and misconduct were traded on Monday by rivals within the only party to have seriously challenged President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly autocratic rule in this troubled country.
Rivals of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai accused him on Monday of abusing funds. Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, William Bango, dismissed the allegations and said they were harmful to the opposition.

“It is mud being thrown and we are going to expect much more. It doesn’t help anybody except Mugabe as long as Mugabe is in power,” he said.

Supporters of Tsvangirai claim some of his critics within the opposition party have been bought off by the ruling party.

The fight stems from Tsvangirai’s call for a boycott of a November 26 vote for a Senate, a new body in Zimbabwe. On Sunday, Tsvangirai expelled 26 party officials who registered as Senate candidates, but they have vowed to ignore their expulsion.

Paul Themba-Nyathi, a spokesperson for the faction supporting participation in the November 26 vote, alleged money forwarded to Tsvangirai both as party leader and when he led the main labour federation remained unaccounted for.

He alleged Tsvangirai’s love of money was “immeasurable”.

After a decade as head of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Tsvangirai founded the opposition party in 1999.

In a March vote the opposition and human rights groups charge was skewed by intimidation of anyone seen as a dissenter by the government, Tsvangirai’s MDC captured just 41 of the 120 elected seats in parliament’s lower house. Mugabe appoints 30 other seats in that chamber.

Tsvangirai argues participation in the Senate poll will only lend credibility to a flawed election process and an institution intended to bolster Mugabe’s hold on parliament.

The new Senate, introduced by constitutional amendment after the new lower house was installed, includes 50 elected seats. Ten are reserved for traditional leaders chosen by the ruling party and Mugabe appoints six others.

Tsvangirai’s deputy, Gibson Sibanda, party Secretary General Welshman Ncube and his deputy, Gift Chimanikire dispute the leader’s authority to order a boycott of the Senate race. They insist Tsvangirai was narrowly outvoted in an internal ballot by the party’s national executive on October 12.

Tsvangirai’s supporters have accused some of his rivals of being in the pay of the ruling party and secret police agents. They in turn have been accused of embezzling party funds.

Maverick opposition lawmaker Job Sikhala, at a rally in his constituency in southern Harare on Sunday, described Tsvangirai as a dictator and a “goblin”.

In traditional lore, the goblin signifies a sinister, flesh-eating spirit that stalks human prey at night. — Sapa-AP

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