Biti’s coup that never was


This was the title of the press statement issued by Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Douglas Mwonzora following Saturday’s suspension of the party leadership including its president Morgan Tsvangirai, national chairman Lovemore Moyo, Mwonzora himself and organising secretary Nelson Chamisa among others.

Here is Mwonzora’s full statement.


Yesterday, the 26th of April 2014, the Secretary General of the Party convened a meeting of a few members of his faction calling it the meeting of the National Council of the Party. In that meeting he tried to agitate for the suspension of the leadership of the MDC and effectively install himself and his clique as the leadership of the MDC.

The meeting that was convened can never pass as a meeting of the National Council of the MDC both because of the manner in which it was convened and also because of its composition.

The powers of the Secretary General of the Party are spelt out in Article 9.5; it is clear from the wording of this Article that the Secretary-General has absolutely no power to convene a National Council meeting. Maybe the Secretary-general confused his duty to ensure that national council meetings have to comply with constitutional requirements with actually convening the meeting itself.

In terms of Article 9.5.1 A, the Secretary-General can only organise meetings of the national congress and national conference under the supervision of the National Council and in consultation with the President. He does not have the power to organise meetings of the national council. Meetings of the national Council can only be convened by the national chairman of the party. The secretary-general can only exercise more power than he has only where he has been authorised by the President, the national executive or the national council. In convening this meeting, the secretary-general did not get the authority of the national executive, national council and/or the President.

We are made to believe that the secretary-general organised that the meeting be chaired by Samuel SipepaNkomo, the secretary of the Guardian Council. In terms of clause 9.3.1 H of the party constitution, the only person who can chair the national council is the national chairman. However, the national chairman or even his deputy, were not invited to this meeting. How the secretary-general could preside over this gross violation of the Constitution boggles the mind.

Under Article 9.1.2 (b) it is only the President who can chair the meetings of the national executive.
The common practice in the MDC is that all national executive and council meetings are held at the party headquarters unless the council itself decides otherwise. This meeting was held at Mandel Training centre, an indication that it was always the intention of the secretary-general to make this meeting a clandestine and bogus meeting.

The composition of the national council is well spelt out in In terms of Article 6.4.3 and it cannot be varied under any circumstances. States that the composition of the national council is as follows:
(a) All members of the Standing Committee
(b) All members of the national executive committee
(c) The management committee of the assembly of women
(d) The management committee of the assembly of the youth
(e) Chairperson and secretary of the guardians council
(f) Chairperson, secretary, organising secretary, treasurer and secretary for information and publicity of every province
(g) Elected female representative of every province elected in terms of clause
(h) Three members of parliament elected by members of parliament themselves in a special caucus meeting
(i) The chairperson and secretary at provincial level of the assembly of women and youth
However, in this meeting, more than 40 people were from Welshman Ncube’s party including one Michael Mukashi.

Out of the 13 members of the Standing Committee, only two attended.
Out of the 54 members of the National Executive, only 16 attended.
Further, out of the 195 members of the national council, only 33 attended.

A large number of the attendees were non-portfolio-holding youths were specifically hired and paid to make up the numbers. It is absurd that in this meeting, people who were expelled/or suspended from the party sat in the meeting that purported to uplift their suspension and/or expulsion.

It therefore follows that the purported national council meeting fundamentally violated the provisions of the MDC Constitution. The fact that this could happen with the blessing of the secretary-general who is a senior lawyer in his own right shows that this was an attempt at an awkward coup de tat by people who are apparently afraid to face the electorate at congress.

It is clear that this meeting is a culmination of a sustained programme of both overt and covert operations involving Zanu PF, state security agents, Welshman Ncube and the Zimbabwe Institute. This meeting was void ab initio (from the very beginning) and thus, no lawful and binding resolutions can derive from such a meeting.

The MDC therefore wishes to categorically state that yesterday’s meeting was a bogus non-event. In fact, it was a grouping of comic individuals masquerading as the national council. For the avoidance of doubt, the MDC constitution, in Article 6.5 states that the guardian council is merely an advisory council made up of elderly members of the party.

Section 6.5.3 sets out the functions of the guardian council as follows:
(a) To offer advice and wisdom to the national leadership of the party including the national executive committee and national council
(b) To carry out advocacy work, with and amongst traditional leaders and traditional institutions for and on behalf of the party
(c) To assist the secretary for national healing integration and reconciliation in carrying out his/her work
(d) To perform and/or carry out any such functions which the national executive council may from time to time delegate to it which may include investigations, arbitration and reconciliation in disputes within the party structures and/or among members.

Composition of NSC Article 6:4:3:1
• The NSC is chaired by the President, it has 13 members of which only two attended the said meeting

The National Executive Committee
• We have 54 members of the Constitution and is chaired by the president
• In terms of Article 9:1:2(b), the President chairs the NEC.
• Is the implementing and administrative authority of the party

The National Council
• Is chaired by the National Chairperson in terms of Article 9:3
• The national council is convened by the President in terms of Article 9.1.2
• It has 195 members
• Article 9:1:2(g) – President convenes an extraordinary council
• All members of NSC and NEC, 54, Management committee women, 8, Youth Assembly 8, Chairperson and Sec of guardian council, 2, provincial members 9 x12, three MPs representatives, elected females 12 including External provinces

Why the meeting was bogus
• Venue
• no notice to members of NSC except invitation to Madzore, Biti and expelled Mangoma
• Only 8 out of the 54 members of the national executive were invited and these are:- Biti, Chikwinya, Masaiti, Mushonga, Kay, Madzore, Chitando, Gweshe
• The National Council – only 33 out of the legitimate and bona fide 195 attended

Manicaland – Dennis Simango, Brian James, Lizzy Zvimba, Clara Katupira, 4/9 legitimate delegates
Masvingo- Sitemere, Matutu, Mudavanhu, Makuku, Chirume, 5/9
Mid South –Rutsvara, Shangwa, 2/9
Mid North – Muguti, Kennedy, 2/9
Mash West – haurovi, Bvumo,2/9
Mash East – no legit member, 0/9
Mash Central – no legit member,0/9
Harare – Madzore P, WillasMadzimure, Munyanyi, 3/9
Chitungwiza– no legit member, 0/9
Mat South – WatchySibanda, 1/9
Mat north – Tshabangu, Mabhena, Mawela, 3/9
Bulawayo – Reggie Moyo, BekhitembaNyathi, 2/9

• Out of 195 total complement of the national council, only 33 members attended the meeting.

MPs who were present
Nb. Some of the MPs just attended but are not members of the national council
Tendai Biti
Paul Madzore
Solomon Madzore
Moses Manyengavana
Willas Madzimure
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo
Bekithemba Nyathi
Evelyn Masaiti
Watchy Sibanda
Out of 91 MPs, 9 attended.

All other people came from Welshman, a hired crowd from districts, paid to attend the meeting.

The meeting was therefore bogus and inquorate

Biti vs Constitutionalism
The case of Biti preaching and breaching the constitution

• Biti has no NSC support, that’s why he seeks to subvert it
• No support in NEC, that is why he seeks to subvert it
• No support in the NC, that is why he seeks to subvert it
• Has no support in the party structures even in his own constituency
• Biti is aware and afraid that he will be booted out of his position at the congress, so he wants to cause confusion
• Is afraid that MPs working with him may lose their seats that’s why he sought an amicable divorce in the last national executive meeting and was advised by the Executive and the council that the issue of divorce does not arise as the party is not a marriage
• Biti registered party assets under a company where he, Mangoma and one Fortune Gwaze, a former staff member are shareholders.
• No support in the Guardian Council as only 2/28 members attended

The MDC has been aware of these actions. We saw this coming. Deliberated on setting the tribunal but delayed in order to give dialogue a chance because of President Tsvangirai’s magnanimity.

Mangoma’s Interview in the Fingaz
Mafume did a press conference in which he said the differences are irreconcilable then announced that Biti was to announce his position in due course. He did so yesterday. Mr Biti has now formally formed his party.

Way Forward
Various structures and organs of the party will meet in the coming days. The National Standing Committee will meet tomorrow to deliberate on this latest development and proffer a way forward. A properly constituted national executive and council will meet on Tuesday.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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