MDC Succession Battle
Following Morgan Tsvangirai's heavy defeat at the hands of Robert Mugabe in the July 2013 harmonized elections, a number of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials had been calling for Tsvangirai's ouster. All hell broke loose when MDC deputy treasured general wrote a letter to Tsvangirai calling him to step down as MDC president. What followed was Mangoma's expulsion from the party. Backed by Secretary general Tendai Biti and other members which call themselves 'Renewal Team', Mangoma dismissed his expulsion. Accusations, expulsions and violence followed spilling into parliament in 2014.
Though some members of the MDC had fro a long time wanted Tsvangirai to step down, the final blow came in after Tsvangirai was defeated for the third time running by Mugabe. Some of the first to publicly condemn Tsvangirai's leadership qualities was the former Marondera legislator Ian Kay and former treasurer general Roy Bennet in 2013. The latter argued that Tsvangirai had flouted the constitution by serving for another term after his two terms expired. Tsvangirai, has led the MDC since its formation in 1999.
- Tsvangirai Sex Scandals
It is believed that Tsvangirai's alleged sex scandals contributed to his defeat.This has led to some members of the party to call for his ouster. Since the death of his wife, Susan Tsvangirai in 2009, Morgan alleged never settle down to one relationship. Even before Susan's death Tsvangirai allegedly had an extra marital affair. It was reported that he was involved sexually with a woman who lived in Norton. Again after the death of Susan it was alleged he had a child with a 21-year-old Bulawayo woman, Loreta Nyathi. At the same time he was allegedly having an affair with another married woman, Aquillina Pamberi. Like a movie, Tsavingai's scandals flowed with one Nozipho Regina Shilubane blocking Tsvangirai's marriage with current wife Elizabeth Macheka, claiming that he had also promised to marry her. It was these that reportedly led to his defeat.
In 2014, Mangoma wrote a letter to Tsvangirai calling him to consider stepping down and handed it personally. However things got wrong when the letter was leaked to the press. Below is the full letter: RESTORATION OF HOPE AND CONFIDENCE: A Cause for Leadership Renewal
On the onset I wish to put it on the record that I am loyal to you and the movement. I remain cognizant and cherish the role you have played and shall continue play going forward. I therefore respectively submit these views and proposals in the name of transparency, honesty, for preservation of our collective integrity and my love for this party and this country as well as my utmost respect for the leadership of the party. I also respectively submit that my views are meant to build this party and its leadership for us to remain relevant on the Zimbabwean menu of politics and for the party to be able to challenge for highest political office in the next election. They are not meant to be personal attacks or to be misconstrued as a form of character assassination on anyone but a genuine well thought out expression of my desire to see a strong MDC emerging out of the incumbent crisis.
It is common cause that the MDC suffered an electoral loss of catastrophic proportions, what we in the party are convinced is an electoral theft by Zanu PF, on July 31. It is common cause that this election did not meet the standards expected of a democratic free and fair election. It is also common cause that regardless of the electoral fraud, on our part, as leadership, should be responsible and shoulder some blame for allowing that electoral fraud to take place.
- The Aftermath of the July 31 Election
The aftermath of the election has been a state of confusion, consternation and apprehension on the part of the movement. The party is grieving from a crisis of leadership legitimacy, crisis of expectation and above all a crisis of confidence, externally and internally. My reading is that the manner in which Councillors voted on the 16th of September 2013 during the election of Mayors is manifest of the crisis of leadership and the crisis of legitimacy that is engrossing the party. The repercussion of the election has also been met with personal and private issues of the party’s highest office being drawn into the public further calling into question the leadership credentials of the party leaving the brand of the party in disrepute. This has culminated in appeals, internally and externally, for leadership renewal in the party.
- The Call for Leadership Renewal
Leadership renewal is an inexorable truth that the party will have to confront lest it is plagued by the same succession conundrum affecting Zanu PF. Since the outcome of the election, calls for leadership renewal have been made in different quotas and at different platforms. It is my unbending resolve that leadership renewal, at this juncture, could be the only avenue to restoring the credibility of the party lest it risks being confined to history. At a time when confidence is plummeting, there is need for the MDC to freshen up, create fresh impetus and rally its troops to remain united and focused. However, this impetus cannot and will not be created if the leadership status quo is preserved. As Zimbabwe seems to plunge deeper into crisis following the July 31 election, the relevance of the MDC cannot be overstressed. The MDC still has a significant role to play in the democratization process of Zimbabwe but cannot do so in its current state. With 2018 approaching, it is apparent that campaigning for the same commences promptly under a renewed leadership.
- The Position of the President
There is no denial that Morgan Tsvangirai has embossed his name into the history books of this country. There is also no denial that he has played a pivotal role in Zimbabwe’s quest for democracy and socio-economic transformation. However, it is my humble submission that, at this juncture, it is time you consider leaving the office of the president of the movement. 2014 marks 15 years of Morgan Tsvangirai as president of the party. You have done the best that you could and continuing will result in diminishing returns and eating into your legacy. The party is in dire need for new ideas, new thinking, a new trajectory and new stimulus.
- Way Forward
The creation of a new trajectory for the party cannot and will not be achieved by acrimony and contestation but by amicably resolving and putting finality and closure to this issue of leadership renewal. However, the MDC needs resurgence underwritten by a strong cohesive party leadership, reviewed adaptive party policies and reinvigorated connection with the base and the broad alliance. The best way that you, as President of the party can support this process is to step aside and allow progress by the democratic forces. There are three possible pathways, with the first being highly undesirable for the party; Firstly, you remain in questioned leadership, which brings back the ghost of 2005-2006, leading to a nasty war of attrition in the party, which will reach a peak either before, or in 2016. Some of the questions, that are part of general talk, that you will then need to answer are as follows; -
- How will you be able to undertake the reform agenda that we failed to do when we were in government and you had Executive power?
- How will you answer the questions that we failed to care enough for our people and that we used our time in government for personal aggrandizement, personal wealth accumulation as symbolized by the current impasse on Highlands residents?
- How will you put closure to the issue of women in your life and ensure that these will not continue to erode your and the party’s brand?
- How will we put closure to the question of misuse of funds, and ensure that our friends regain confidence that donations will be channeled to the people’s project going forward?
- How will we make sure that trust, team spirit and mutual confidence, currently eroded through the misconduct of the primary elections, violence visited on staff and myself, lack of constitutionalism and failure to follow procedure on appointment of officers to the National Executive and key public offices including diplomatic posts is restored.
Secondly, the president could declare his intention to step aside necessitating for the conducting of an extra-ordinary congress, while he is in charge. Thirdly, the president could declare his intention to leave office forthwith and an interim leadership, under vice president Thokozai Khupe takes over. This to me is the most ideal approach that will strengthen the party towards the next election. Under option 2 and 3 above, I envisage amending the constitution to create the position of founding president. It will give the effect that you will continue to be closely associated with the party and the people’s project, preserve your legacy as a democrat and a brave fighter against dictatorship and one-man-rule. This also enables establishing an institute for governance and social development, which the party will assist in fundraising for the establishment of the same. This is my honest assessment of the party and my submissions on how the party can be transformed to achieve its objective of; -
- Acquiring state power following an electoral win in the next election.
- Governing democratically and bringing about real transformation in Zimbabwe.
I sincerely believe any of the last two approaches, if adopted, could enable the president: Morgan Tsvangirai, to maintain his legacy as a person who has fought a just cause for democracy and the upliftment of the conditions of life for ordinary Zimbabweans. It will also enable the movement to make progress towards securing state power. I hope you will render my submissions the due consideration that they deserve. I thank you.
This did not go down well with MDC supporters who assaulted Mangoma in February.
Expulsions and Counter Expulsions
In April Mangoma and three senior MDC officials, Jacob Mafume, Promise Mkwananzi and Last Mayengahama were suspended for alleged tarnishing the image of MDC. After the suspension Biti condemned the decision as unconstitutional. What followed was Biti's expulsion. However Biti laughed it off. In late April Biti and his Renewal Team suspnded Tsvangirai and his national executive. The other members includes Vice-president Thokozani Khupe, national chairman Lovemore Moyo, organising secretary Nelson Chamisa and spokesman Douglas Mwonzora. Biti who is the leader of the Renewal team said the suspension was initiated because Tsvangirai violated the party’s constitution and brung the party into disrepute. Tsvangirai's faction responded by suspending Biti and eight others from his faction.
The battle spilled into parliament with the rival factions requesting Parliament to expell members of each rival in parliament. On the 28th of April Khupe wrote a letter to speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda notifying him of the suspensions and alleging to recall their Members of Parliament. As had became the norm on the 2nd of May Biti did the same. Mudenda ruled on the 8th of May that the two parties should take their matter to court and that parliament would not meddle in internal politics.
- Mangoma’s letter to Tsvangirai, 'Herald', Published: 27 Jan 2014, Retrieved: 9 May 2014
- Tsvangirayi must go: Roy bennet, 'iHarare', Published: 11 Sept 2013, Retrieved: 9 Apr 2014
- Liz Tsvangirai cheats on PM: report, 'New Zimbabwe', Published: 11 August 2013, Retrieved: 9 May 2014
- Reason Wafawavora, The fall of the Main Actor, 'Harald', Published: 8 Aug 2013, Retrieved: 9 May 2014
- Patrice Makova, MDC-T youths assault Mangoma, 'The Standard', Published: 16 Feb 2014, Retrieved: 9 May 2014
- Breaking: Elton Mangoma expelled from MDC, 'The Zimbabwe Mail', Published: 10 Apr 2014, Retrieved: 9 May 2014
- Helen Kadirire, Biti comes out in the open, 'DailyNews', Published: 27 April 2014, Retrieved: 9 May 2014
- Paidamoyo Muzulu, Tsvangirai expels Biti, 8 others, 'NewsDay', Published: 30 Apr 2014, Retrieved: 9 May 2014
- Lloyd Gumbo, MDC-T saga, Speaker washes his hands, Parly can’t meddle in party politics, Go to court, factions told, 'Herald', Published: 9 May 2014, Retrieved: 9 May 2014