Rift in MDC not just about Senate


The rift within the Movement for Democratic Change continued to widen this week with the three Matabeleland provinces vowing to contest the senate elections scheduled for November 26.

Bulawayo province said it would not meet party president Morgan Tsvangirai, who is on a countrywide tour to persuade his followers to boycott the elections, unless he came with an open mind.

It has also emerged that the rift is not just over the senate elections but is really about who controls the party as it prepares for its congress scheduled for January or February next year.

The party’s national council last week voted 33 for and 31 against participating in the senate elections but Tsvangirai said the party had voted 50-50 and he had cast his vote against participation in what party officials say is a sham.

Those against participating in the elections argue that the elections are an unnecessary expense which the country cannot afford and say the money being spent on the elections could be better utilised to buy food or to increase the salaries of civil servants.

Besides, they feel that ZANU-PF has already decided the election outcome as it aims to win a two-thirds majority in the senate to prove that its election victory in March was not a gimmick.

Those who want to participate say the decision of the national council, as the supreme body of the party, is binding so they have to contest the elections. They also argue that they do not want to concede any ground to the ruling party in their strongholds.

“We do not want to give ZANU-PF any ground where we feel we will win,” Victor Moyo, publicity secretary for Bulawayo Province, said.

“There is a 90 percent chance that we will win elections in Matabeleland provinces, so we do not want to give ZANU-PF any foothold in our strongholds. They will start making inroads once we allow them in.”

Sources, however, said the rift within the MDC was not just about the senate elections. “There is really a bigger issue,” a party insider said.

“The party congress is coming up so people are really trying to see who has the support and who is going to be the leader of the party.”

The party congress is scheduled for January or February next year. Sources, however, say under the party constitution there must be three months notice before the congress, which rules out January.

Tsvangirai’s future is therefore now on the line because if his boycott call fails, it shows he is no longer in control of the party. But at the same time, party leaders from Matabeleland were also aware that a leader could not come from the region if they wanted to maintain their national identity.

Political observers also said the rift within the MDC was a blessing for ZANU-PF which is fanning the division through the state-controlled media, as any split in the MDC would rob the country of its most formidable opposition group.

Monday, October 24, is therefore D-day for the MDC as it will determine who rules the roost in the party, as it is nomination day for the senate seats.


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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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