Tsvangirai And Tendai Biti In Heated Exchange

"Oh my God! Is that a gun you are holding, Morgan!" Tendai Biti and Morgan Tsvangirai are shown here before they came into office (but not power) in the Inclusive Government and before Tsvangirai doctored the MDC-Tsvangirai constitution to abolish term limits for the presidency of his party.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 13 June 2010

Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, on 2 June called a surprise emergency meeting of the MDC-Tsvangirai National Leadership to confront Tendai Biti, the Minister of Finance and MDC-T Secretary-General over allegations that the Minister was undermining the Prime Minister and blocking funding.

Tsvangirai produced a report, which he claimed had been compiled by the Security Department of the MDC-T. The report alleged that Biti and his loyalists were busy going around the country "re-organising" party structured to pack them with their own sympathisers ahead of the MDC-T Congress slated for some time next year.

The meeting was attended by Tsvangirai, Biti, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, Martin Magaya (Chairman of MDC-T in Chitungwiza), Thabani Mlambo (also an executive from Chitungwiza), Shorai Zvavare and Aelxio Muzvindiri (Zengeza East MP for MDC-T).

Tsvangirai opened the meeting by saying he had called the meeting to establish if "if allegations that the Secretary-General and his faction are trying to undermine the authority of the President (Tsvangirai) are true."

Tsvangirai then read the report, which he said had been compiled by MDC-T Security. The document, amongst other things, claims that the Secretary General and his "faction" have been telling donors to stop fund the MDC-T until there is leadership renewal.

The document further alleges that Biti was sore that, last month, youths loyal to Tsvangirai caused havoc at the MDC-T head office, Harvest House during which an alleged Biti ally, named as Shonhe, was attacked. The youths claimed to be obeying the orders of Morgan Tsvangirai in unleashing the violence.

Biti and his allies at the meeting would not take it lying down and instead demanded to know who authored the document. Tsvangirai would not say.

Those present say there was an air of fear about Tsvangirai, who would not ask Biti point blank about the allegations, instead asking the meeting in general whether there was any truth to the allegations.

Tsvangirai is, of course, falling into the classic leadership trap, where all-powerful leaders are told only what they want to hear and nothing more.

Tsvangirai is particularly rattled because the report was heavily informed by his loyalists in Masvingo and the Midlands Provinces of Zimbabwe.

These two provinces are known to be anti-Tsvangirai within the MDC-T. In the Midlands, Tsvangirai's own people publicly stated in 2008 that they had voted for Simba Makoni. The MDC-T leadership in the Midlands say that Tsvangirai is dictatorial and has imposed people in leadership positions. He also stands accused of having barred one member of the National Executive from the Midlands from attending meetings although he has not been formally suspended from leadership or from the party.

The structures for the MDC-T in the Midlands are known to "belong" to Biti and to another lady MP in Harare.

In Masvingo, the structures there are said to be for Mudzuri, the MDC-T Organising Secretary who has now been effectively stripped of that title by Tsvangirai. Another Morgan, Komichi, who is nominally deputy to Mudzuri, has been instructed by Tsvangirai to take over the post until the next Congress, when Tsvangirai hopes to whip his supporters into line and have them vote his own choice in the Organising Secretary post.

Compounding Tsvangirai's problems is the fact that people like Roy Bennett, the party's Treasurer-General, are now also suspected of being against the MDC-T president. Bennett is particularly upset that the Prime Minister has not fought hard enough for him to be sworn into government.

He is also upset that, in February 2009, when the Inclusive Cabinet was sworn in, Tsvangirai went ahead to attend the ceremony at State House, joking and laughing with Mugabe while he, Bennett was thrown into police cells in the city of Mutare, where he spent a couple of days and nights with the corpse of a prisoner who had died behind bars.

Tsvangirai believes there is a conspiracy against him at the highest levels of his party but is too scared to take direct action lest it backfires on him.

Worryingly, though, the tiff within the MDC-T is now taking on tribal undercurrents, with Tendai Biti dragging that old ZANU PF trick out of the hat. A source close to the Finance Minister told the Sunday Times of South Africa that Biti suspected that the "conspiracy" against him was tribal because most of those feeding information to Tsvangirai were from Masvingo and Midlands.

It is dangerous ground to tread, obviously. It is the sort of mentality that could take Zimbabwe down the Burundi and Rwanda route.

I do not know what tribe Biti belongs to. Nor do I care.

Unfortunately, the MDC-T is picking up too many bad habits from ZANU PF and this is only one them.

Biti must fight Tsvangirai only the basis of the Prime Minister's increasingly questionable democratic credentials. Tsvangirai is proving to be no democrat.

That the PM is courageous is beyond doubt. But so is Mugabe. Courage to face a formidable enemy does not a democrat make. If anything, tyrannies are established by those so fearless that they care nothing for their own well-being. Witness Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and many others. Very rarely do you get a liberator (courageous by definition) like George Washington, who then goes on to ensure that they are out of a job as quickly as possible.

Today we have career politicians, lining their pockets and that being their only motivation for going into the business in the first place, not public service or the good o

So, instead of conducting "sniffing out ceremonies" at the Party Headquarters, he must simply move into the 21st Century and get with the programme.

Biti must continue to demand that no man can doctor the constitution to give himself Life Presidency within the party, lest the country gets another Kamuzu Banda in Morgan Tsvangirai.



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