Biti bid to rope in Mujuru

THE fallout between MDC Renewal Team secretary-general Tendai Biti and treasurer-general Elton Mangoma is alleged to have escalated after the former Finance minister made overtures to rope in former Vice-President Joice Mujuru into the opposition parties’ proposed grand coalition.

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BY RICHARD CHIDZA

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Mujuru, who was kicked out of both the ruling Zanu PF and government late last year on allegations of plotting to dethrone President Robert Mugabe, has been linked to a grouping going by the moniker People First which of late, has been holding informal discussions with some MDC Renewal Team officials aimed at forming a grand coalition.

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“There are also people within the party who have been negotiating with the group known as People First without consultations and behind our backs,” Mangoma told NewsDay last week after he was assaulted by party activists believed to be aligned to Biti.

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“This is being done in the context of two diametrically opposed visions that have emerged within the party and that are increasingly proving to be irreconcilable. As I speak, extensive consultations are underway, as to the way forward within and outside the party,” Mangoma said.

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Mangoma’s row with Biti exploded into the public domain last week following allegations that the ex-Energy minister had been bedding a party activist’s wife. Mangoma denied the allegation but instead claimed he was “deeply worried about the complicity of some of my colleagues in the party in arranging and co-ordinating the violence”.

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Without mentioning any names, but pointedly referring to Biti, Mangoma said the differences in the party had also been caused by “underhand negotiations” by some leaders in the MDC Renewal Team.

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Although Biti could not be reached for comment yesterday, party spokesperson Jacob Mafume denied that the party had had any contact with People First.

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“There are no formal negotiations with the Mujuru camp. Informally I would not be able to comment on whether individual members from both sides have had contact,” Mafume said.

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“You would also want to put this into context that part of the Mandel resolution impressed upon the leadership to seek out all democrats including those locked in undemocratic institutions. We are of the opinion that the Mujuru group would fall into this category, I mean of those stuck in undemocratic institutions.”

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But People First spokesperson Rugare Gumbo insisted officials from the two political outfits had met to find a “common position”.

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“Yes, we have been in touch, we are just trying to come together and finding ways of presenting a common position,” Gumbo said. – NewsDay