THE raging battle pitting the two MDC-T factions has taken a new twist as the warring parties are now engaged in a fight over control of the party’s business in the National Assembly.
Sources in the MDC-T said the party’s deputy president Thokozani Khupe wrote to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda last week notifying him that contrary to secretary-general Tendai Biti’s assertion that the faction which has the secretary-general within its ranks is superior, she remains the leader of the opposition in parliament as the vice-president of the party.
“There is a big fight over who should be the leader of the opposition in the House since Biti wrote to Mudenda last week claiming he was now the leader,” said a highly placed MDC-T source.
The leader of the opposition is a member of parliament who leads the largest party, or coalition of parties, that is not in government.
The tasks of the leader of the opposition includes, among many others, chairing meetings in which the opposition discusses policies and examines bills (proposed laws), presenting alternative policies to those of government, selecting members of the opposition to be shadow ministers, leading the shadow cabinet, acting as the chief opposition spokesperson, as well as leading the opposition in an election.
In his letter soon after the “suspension” of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and six others, Biti claimed to have assumed leadership of the opposition in the house.
“No one in the MDC other than the secretary-general has a right to write to you on any issue with respect to our Members of Parliament particularly in terms of Section 129 of the Constitution,” wrote Biti.
“The party itself is now clearly divided, between the faction of fascists, led by the suspended Morgan Tsvangirai and the Renewal Democratic Team that met at Mandel Training Centre on the 26th of April 2014. Effectively there are now two national councils and if none of these has more authority than the other, the one with secretary is the superior.”
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, Mudenda confirmed receiving letters from the two factions but refused to shed more light on the issue.
“I can confirm that I have received submissions from the two factions in the MDC, but I cannot comment on anything because this has to do with the body politics of the MDC,” Mudenda said.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora insisted Khupe remains the leader of the opposition in parliament.
“Deputy (MDC-T) president Khupe repmains the leader of the opposition in the house and continues to earn an allowance for her role,” Mwonzora said.
“When Biti wrote to parliament purporting to be a leader, he was attempting a coup d’état.’
The MDC-T, which appears headed for another split following that of 2005, is locked in serious internal fights that saw Tsvangirai and his backers “expelling” Biti and other party officials calling themselves the Renewal Team for staging a “coup” against Tsvangirai.
Biti, deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma and other top officials on April 26 called a national council meeting in Harare and resolved to overturn the suspension imposed on Mangoma and other party officials.
They summarily suspended Tsvangirai, Khupe, national chairman Lovemore Moyo, his deputy Morgen Komichi, organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, deputy organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe, vice chairman and spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora.