Tsvangirai axes ‘reckless’ officials

More heads are likely to roll this week as the MDC-T plans to act on more “foul-mouthed” officials that made statements deemed to be against party policy.

Several senior party officials confirmed in interviews with NewsDay yesterday that a crackdown was looming and that heads would roll. 

The officials who spoke in confidence said the clampdown, which started last week with deputy spokesperson Tabitha Khumalo being demoted for advocating for the decriminalisation of commercial sex work, was now targeting three legislators — Eddie Cross (Bulawayo South MP), Sithembile Mlotshwa (Matobo Senator) and Morgan Femai (Chikomo Senator).

Cross also serves as the party’s policy coordinator.

Although MDC-T national spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora yesterday confirmed the crackdown, he declined to name those likely to face the axe.

“I can confirm that we are looking at incidences where there are allegations raised against officials emanating from what they are alleged to have said or done,” said Mwonzora.

“The party stands for certain well-known values and these include integrity, decency and respect of culture and religious beliefs of Zimbabwe. Our officials are to abide, to follow and respect the values that have been developed over the years. If they don’t, the party will take disciplinary action,” he said.

“What we are doing is that we are looking at each case individually, like the circumstances under which these utterances were made. For example, where others were joking and there happened to have been a journalist, it’s different when a policy pronouncement is made,” he said.

The impeccable sources told NewsDay yesterday that the party leadership was not happy with recent utterances made by senior party officials, among them Cross, Mlotshwa and Femai.

Cross, on his website, recently insinuated that Zimbabweans would deal with Zanu PF hardliners and army generals once the MDC-T got into power.

“Under such circumstances the temptation to take the law into their own hands would simply be too great for the people of this country who have suffered at the hands of the Zanu PF hierarchy; it would be payback time. In my view most of the leaders of Zanu PF would be well advised to leave the country for their own safety,” wrote Cross in his article — “A warning to hardliners”.

His statements were viewed as implying that Tsvangirai would unleash retributive action against Zanu PF sympathisers once elected into office. 

Femai caused a stir recently when he allegedly said women should avoid looking attractive as a way of curbing the spread of HIV and Aids.

He was quoted in the media as saying women should dress shabbily, sport bald heads and lose weight to reduce their attractiveness.

The senator allegedly said this at a workshop for Parliamentarians in Kadoma. He, however, later said he had been joking to lighten the atmosphere in the seminar and that he had been surprised to find that published in newspapers.

Mlotshwa, the MDC-T Senator for Matobo, also stirred a storm when she said people should have sex once a month and that men should be injected with drugs that reduce their libido.

She also called for prisoners to be given sex toys to satisfy their sexual appetite. Khumalo made headlines when she called for the decriminalisation of commercial sex work and promised to assist commercial sex workers form a trade union.

“It is here to stay and we should bite the bullet. Pleasure engineering did not begin in Bulawayo or Zimbabwe but in the Garden of Eden and one of those pleasure engineers was Eve,” Khumalo was quoted as saying.

She has become the latest victim of the MDC-T purge after she was demoted from her post of deputy spokesperson. She has not yet been reassigned. She said she respected her “redeployment” but accused the media of sensationalising her comments on prostitution.

“The party is restructuring according to the letter that I received. It’s not about what I feel personally. I chose to be a member of the party and obviously there are leaders, “she said.