MDC formations in row over indaba

HARARE – A war of words has broken out between opposition MDC factions over the convening of an indaba to seek ways of resolving the country’s social, economic and political crisis.

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Just 24 hours after former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai announced that his party would convene a National Convergence Conference that will seek to bring together Zimbabweans from across the divide, his arch-nemesis and former lieutenant Tendai Biti, one of the leading figures in the MDC-renewal team, said “we will not be party to such a process”.

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“The idea of a convergence conference for democrats is an old idea, but serious people are already working around the clock to make sure when it is convened, matters that will extricate this country from the mire are discussed without prejudice.

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“Such people are making sure the process is not corrupted by a political party,” Biti said.

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Following the MDC-T’s second split inside a decade early last year, Biti and his colleagues, among them deputy treasurer-general Elton Mangoma, called for the convening of a national conference to find solutions to the country’s problems as well as the setting up of a National Transitional Technical Committee that will take charge of government as the political mess is cleaned up.

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Early this week, Tsvangirai told a press conference that his call for a national conference was in line with his party’s congress roadmap but added the indaba would not be a political party platform.

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“The national convergence conference will not be an MDC platform but a platform for all players in their diversity to agree on the national grievances and together chart the way forward for the country,” said Tsvangirai, adding “the idea of a national convergence conference arose after a realisation that the national crisis is affecting every Zimbabwean despite, our political, racial and ethnic differences”.

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Biti accused the Tsvangirai faction of seeking to “capture the conference”.

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“They want to capture and kill like they have done with everything in the process of engaging Zimbabweans and finding solutions to this country’s troubles. It is regrettable and some of us will not be party to it,” the former Finance minister said.

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MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu took a conciliatory tone when contacted for comment.

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“Our main focus is to resolve the national crisis, to stem the tide of continued company closures as well as the job hemorrhage. We would want to try and inspire solutions to the social delivery problems confronting our people and for us it is not about who convenes it. Someone just has to be seen to be doing it. We have since moved from yesterday’s politics of finger-pointing and mudslinging,” Gutu said.

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“The MDC-T is not out to pick a fight with anyone because no one will benefit from squabbling and that is why we are reaching out to everyone including members of Zanu PF. Who calls for the conference is a non-issue”