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Tsvangirai losing grip as row deepens

SIGNS that embattled opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai is rapidly losing control of his fractious party grew yesterday after senior officials warned they would not attend his “illegal” meeting tomorr

ow.


In the clearest sign yet that the MDC is headed for a break-up, the faction led by secretary-general Welshman Ncube said it will boycott a national executive council meeting called by their leader on Monday.


The Ncube camp said Tsvangirai “does not have unilateral powers to convene such a meeting” and that the outcome of such a meeting in breach of the party constitution would be “fraudulent and illegitimate”.


“In yet another move to usurp and violate the constitution of the party, Tsvangirai has called a meeting of the national council for this Saturday (tomorrow),” MDC deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire said.


“He does not have the powers to unilaterally convene such a meeting. Having spent the past three weeks attempting hard to bribe and coerce members of the council, Tsvangirai now hopes to ‘persuade’ the council to reverse its decision on the senate election.”


However, Tsvangirai’s spokesman William Bango said last night the MDC leader had not been “officially informed” about the boycott.


“Tsvangirai has not received any communication to that effect and expects everybody to attend the meeting unless they are held up by emergency domestic issues or such other matters,” Bango said.


The MDC national executive council voted on October 12 by 33 to 31 for participation in the November 26 poll, but Tsvangirai overruled it and then launched a nationwide crusade against the election.


This triggered the power struggle currently unfolding in the party which has seen a series of accusations and counter-accusations between the Tsvangirai and Ncube camps.


At a rally last weekend in Harare Tsvangirai lashed out at the Ncube group, suggesting they were collaborating with Zanu PF on the senate project and insisted he as the leader was entitled to take the decision he did. Those at the rally sang anti-Ncube group songs and threatened its members.


There have been cases of violence and intimidation between members of the two camps. Chimanikire accused Tsvangirai of orchestrating the campaign of intimidation.


Tsvangirai’s attacks on colleagues at the Harare rally came after the MDC’s so-called top six leaders met on Thursday last week, under the mediation of Professor Brian Raftopoulos, to find a solution to the crisis. A further meeting on Monday failed to break the impasse.


After the Raftopoulos initiative collapsed in confusion, Tsvangirai decided to call for tomorrow’s meeting. The MDC leader said he would present a report on the “state of the party, the current preparations for congress and the way forward”. He would also “give the council an overview of the campaign for a new constitution adopted in concert with the MDC’s civil society partners”.


If tomorrow’s meeting flops, Tsvangirai, despite his ability to summon large crowds at rallies, would have suffered another major setback.


Two weeks ago, he failed to raise a quorum for a national executive committee meeting. He also failed to stop candidates from registering for the senate poll.


Tsvangiari also appears to have failed to suspend senior party members and MP Job Sikhala over his now withdrawn claims that the party had received foreign funding. Sikhala said Tsvangirai has no power to take such action against him.


Chimanikire accused Tsvangirai of repeatedly being in “flagrant breach of the constitution” and warned “these are the actions of a dictator-in-the making”. – Staff Writer.

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