MDC split gets nastier


The split of the Movement for Democratic Change over participation in senate elections took a nastier turn when the faction led by secretary-general Welshman Ncube filed an application with the court barring party leader Morgan Tsvangirai from continuing to speak for the party.

Even the United States embassy commented that though Tsvangirai continued to hold the upper hand in the intra-party battle with both the party’s grassroots and its structures firmly on his side, Ncube and the rebels could very well succeed in gaining control of the party name and assets through the courts.

But the embassy added that the manoeuvres were likely to paralyse the party.


Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE1620, MDC Split Gets Nastier

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Reference ID






2005-12-02 11:44

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001620








E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/2015


SUBJECT: MDC Split Gets Nastier


Ref: HARARE 001608


Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Eric T Schultz under

Section 1.4 b/d






1. (C) With the campaign for and against the Senate behind them,

the two rival MDC factions have begun the battle for control

over the party’s institutions and assets. The Ncube faction

drafted a legal application on November 28 seeking to bar party

president Morgan Tsvangirai from speaking for the party, in line

with his supposed “suspension” from the party (reftel).

Tsvangirai in return called a National Council meeting for



December 1, during which 57 of the 66 Council members decided

the party should “disassociate itself” from the leaders of the

rival faction. Although Tsvangirai has clearly won the backing

of the bulk of the party, Ncube and his allies appear determined

to carry the fight to friendlier ground – the GOZ-dominated

courts, which regardless of the merits, may very well side with

the rebels in an effort to further hamstring the opposition.

End Summary.



Ncube Faction Turns to Courts



2. (C) Apparently attempting to enforce a letter from party

Vice President Gibson Sibanda as head of the party’s

Disciplinary Committee purporting to suspend Tsvangirai from the

party, the pro-election faction drafted an urgent court

application at the beginning of the week seeking to bar the

party president from speaking publicly. According to a report

in the independent press, the application was spearheaded by a

“parallel” MDC secretariat that the rebels had set up in

Bulawayo. MDC MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who has

publicly sympathized with the rebels, told us on December 2 that

the application, which was drafted by Harare MP Trudy Stevenson,

was only submitted to the High Court on December 1, after

apparent difficulty finding a willing lawyer. (N.B. Ncube is

likely barred from personally submitting the application for

conflict of reason interests.)



Tsvangirai’s Riposte





3. (C) Getting wind of the court move, Tsvangirai moved forward

a National Council meeting scheduled for December 3 to December

1 to preempt the possibility of a court ruling siding with the

Ncube faction. Attended by 57 of the body’s 66 members, the

Council, which according to the MDC constitution supercedes the

Disciplinary Committee, adopted by consensus a resolution (e-

mailed to AF/S) overturning Tsvangirai’s suspension on appeal.


4. (C) The resolution further stated that the Council, acting

on behalf of the party, had decided to “disassociate itself”

from Sibanda, Ncube, Deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire,

Treasurer General Fletcher Dulini Ncube, Secretary for

Information Paul Themba Nyathi, and Secretary for Policy and

Research Stevenson, all of whom were suspended from their

leadership positions. Harare MP and national youth chairman

Nelson Chamisa was named Nyathi’s replacement and National

Chairman Isaac Matongo – who briefly sided with Ncube et al

before finally aligning himself with the president – became

acting secretary general and treasurer general until the party

Congress names a permanent replacement.


5. (C) The Council also moved to assert its control of the

party’s assets and financial statements, many of which are under

the control of the Ncube faction. The resolution established

that only Tsvangirai and the Chairpersons of the Party, the

Women’s Assembly, and the Youth Assembly were authorized

signatories for party transactions. Treasurer General Dulini

Ncube was ordered to turn over the party’s financial statements.






6. (C) Tsvangirai continues to hold the upper hand in the

intra-party battle with both the party’s grassroots and its

structures firmly on his side. Moreover, MDC supporters as a

whole are likely to read the Ncube faction’s appeal to the

ruling party-manipulated courts as a sign of desperation and as

an act that is well beyond the pale for opposition politicians.

That said, Ncube and the rebels could very well succeed in

gaining control of the party name and assets through the courts.

And, in the interval, their legal maneuvers are likely to

paralyze the party vis- vis the government until at least the

MDC Party Congress in February, and possibly beyond.


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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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