Tsvangirai In All Out war Against Tendai Biti
Harare, Zimbabwe, 04 July 2010
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is also president of the MDC witha surname (the MDC-T), has taken gloves off and taken the fight to Secretary General Tendai Biti (also Zimbabwe's Finance Minister in the coalition government).
Tsvangirai last week fired high level officials at Harvest House, the MDC-T's Head Office in Harare, Zimbabwe. Among those to go were the Finance Director of the party and members of the Secretariat, which Tsvangirai is accusing of being in service of Tendai Biti in his alleged bid to unseat Tsvangirai at the next Congress of the MDC-T.
This is coming after Tsvangirai fired several ministers and demoted others in a recent reshuffle of his ineffective rump of the Coalition Government.
The amputation of what are seen as Biti's limbs in the party comes just a couple of weeks after the Prime Minister called a meeting of senior officials of his party to confront them with a report he said had been compiled by the MDC-T's Security Department and which alleged, amongst other things, that Biti and his allies were mobilising membership behind their bid to take over the party while badmouthing the Prime Minister all over the country.
Biti denied everything, pointing out that he had not even met some of the officials he was said to be plotting with.
But Tsvangirai has faith in the reports from his cohorts, people like Gandhi Mudzingwa, who are clear that the Prime Minister is in imminent danger of being toppled by the Biti faction and replaced either with Biti himself or with Strive Masiyiwa, the founder of Econet Wireless International and Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.
The Prime Minister is extremely jittery just now, hence this decimation of the Secretariat at the MDC-T Head Office.
The ostensible reasons for the firings include incompetence but those fired, including one Rumbi, who was in the Finance Department of the party, say that this is pure victimisation for taking orders from the Secretary General, Tendai Biti.
They argue, however, that the SG is like the CEO of the party and, the nature of his position is that he controls and directs events at the office.
Tsvangirai is having none of it, apparently.
Still considering Biti too powerful and too popular to sack from wither government or party, the Prime Minister and MDC-T leader has now decided to maroon Biti in office, cutting off "the limbs" that were doing doing his biding at the party HQ.
There is a mood of uncertainty that has gripped Harvest House.
This does not bode well for the opposition party led by the Prime Minister, with elections having been agreed between Mugabe and Tsvangirai as due in March 2011 or May of the same year at the latest.
It means that the opposition party goes into the elections with a disenchanted support base, split from all the infighting and unable to present a united front to ZANU PF or Simba Makoni's MKD.
What should be more worrying for Tsvangirai is the fact that MKD offices are now being besieged by the disgruntled people who are leaving the MDC-T. Makoni's party membership cards are reported to have run out, with most of those expressing interest now simply paying their one dollar subscription fee to be put on a waiting list for when cards are available again.
Further to this, the rural areas of Zimbabwe remain a no-go area for the MDC-Tsvangirai, with NGOs reporting that camps from the Presidential election run-off of 2008 are being revived. Currently these are said to be used purely for intimidating people on the Constitutional outreach program underway.
The fight is over whether there should actually be Congress at all this year or early next year.
Tsvangirai is against a Congress before the next elections because he fears that he will lose his position at that Congress and, with that loss will also evaporate his chance of being president of Zimbabwe should the MDC-T win.
Biti and others want a Congress in order to "clean house" and get rid of Morgan Tsvangirai, who has proved incapable of dislodging Mugabe no matter how well the opposition does in elections.
By getting rid of those seen to be rebelling against him, Tsvangirai hopes to rally the remaining people behind him at HQ through fear.
The more things change, I say, the more they stay the same.