AN MDC-T probe team into internal violence blamed on power struggles between party president Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary-general Tendai Biti ahead of the party’s congress next year is expected to present its findings today.The party’s standing committee last week appointed a team headed by Nketa MP Seiso Moyo to investigate the assault on MDC director-general Toendepi Shonhe and security director Chris Dhlamini by youths at the party headquarters, Harvest House, a fortnight ago.
The youths, reportedly aligned to Tsvangirai, seized Shonhe’s vehicle and keys. Shonhe is accused by the youths of using his position in the party to further the interests of the Biti faction.
The outbreak of violence in the MDC has reportedly angered its allies in civil society and the international community, leading to the freezing of funds by donors.
Biti has persistently denied factionalism in the party, but the latest violence has been linked to alleged attempts to consolidate power by the secretary-general and the president ahead of the congress. Prior to its 2005 split, the MDC denied reports of factionalism and cracks until they became public.
Although Biti is not expected to challenge Tsvangirai at the congress, he has reportedly put his loyalists in critical party structures to position himself for an eventual takeover from Tsvangirai.
A senior member of the MDC national executive committee told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that the Moyo-led probe team should submit its findings today.
“The terms of reference of the committee were to investigate the disturbances and recommend the way forward to avoid similar occurrences,” the member said. “We expect the report of the committee tomorrow (today). The standing committee will convene a meeting to deliberate on the report and make recommendations to the national executive.”
Sources in the party said the accused youths appeared before the probe team on Wednesday in the capital and made damaging accusations ranging from factionalism to abuse of office against senior party leaders.
The MDC has been dogged by cases of internal violence since 2001 and this has continued sporadically even after the 2005 split.
In most of the cases, it is MDC youths who are involved in violence, something that goes against the founding principles of the party.
In 2001 MDC lawmakers Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Gabriel Chaibva, Edwin Mushoriwa and Janah Ncube were assaulted when attending a provincial executive meeting.
Other MPs have also been attacked by youths from the party. These include Moses Mzila Ndlovu, then Bulilimamangwe MP.
Trudy Stevenson, now ambassador to Senegal, was also attacked in 2006.
Various commissions have been instituted and despite expelling and suspending those found guilty, violence has continued as some of them are brought back into the party.
Efforts to get a comment from party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa and Biti were unsuccessful.