DAGGERS are drawn in the faction-riven MDC-T between party president Morgan Tsvangirai’s camp and those supporting treasurer-general Elton Mangoma after a legal team representing the former energy minister filed an urgent application with the High Court to stop his expulsion from the party.
By Elias Mambo
The legal team also wants to stop the party National Council from discussing Mangoma at its meeting planned today.
MDC-T sources said Tsvangirai was vigorously pushing for Mangoma’s expulsion for stating in a letter to him that there was need for leadership renewal following the party’s disputed drubbing in the July 31 general elections controversially won by President Robert Mugabe and his party Zanu PF. The letter has torched a storm after it was leaked to the media, with the spectre of another acrimonious split looming large.
“Tsvangirai wants to use the National Council meeting (today) to discipline or expel Mangoma from the party, a move that is unconstitutional,” said a highly-placed source in the MDC-T.
“Once two thirds of the members of the national council agree to Tsvangirai’s proposal Mangoma will be officially suspended pending a disciplinary hearing or expelled,” he said.
However, Mangoma’s lawyer Jacob Mafume, who is also an MDC-T member, said they are filing an urgent chamber application to stop the party from discussing anything to do with Mangoma in the national council meeting.
“We are filing an urgent court application at 2pm today (yesterday) so that the Mangoma issue can be removed from tomorrow’s agenda because my client has not been given the right to be heard,” Mafume said. “What is clear is that Tsvangirai is violating the party constitution which prescribes to freedom of speech and ideas.
“We have dealt with issues where members were expelled but only after following the right procedures. Councillors who were dismissed from the party were investigated, charged and had their case brought before the national council which made a final decision to expel them. This is the same procedure that should be followed in dealing with Mangoma and not to rush for a national council decision before carrying out an investigation,” said Mafume.
He also said Tsvangirai was trying to push out all possible candidates who may contest against him at the congress scheduled for 2016, but which could be brought forward to this year.
Tsvangirai’s camp is pushing for Mangoma’s expulsion for “publicly embarrassing and humiliating” the party leader by calling for his resignation.
However, according to the party constitution a standing committee member can only be tried by an independent tribunal comprising of at least three lawyers, one of whom must be eligible for appointment as a High Court judge.
However, senior officials close to Tsvangirai have accused Mangoma of discipline.
“It is inconceivable that such behaviour can be forgiven and no disciplinary action taken,” a senior party official said. “We are waiting for the dust to settle, and then we will sit down and decide on what kind of disciplinary action we should take.”
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent last week, the MDC-T’s national chairperson Lovemore Moyo, who heads the disciplinary committee, said his committee was tasked with compiling a charge sheet detailing issues raised in Mangoma’s letter that violated the party’s code of conduct and ethics.
“My team has been tasked by the standing committee to prepare a report to be submitted to the national council,” Moyo said.
“It is not my committee that will make a decision on whether to charge Mangoma or not but the national council.”
Moyo also said the charge sheet would be based on the process which Mangoma took resulting in the issue leaking to the media.
“Writing a letter is not a problem but the process which Mangoma took resulting in the issue going public, and also his response and the debating of the issue in the media,” Moyo said.