Infighting mars MDC-T congress

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe's main political party in parliament, the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, yesterday emerged from a bruising congress deeply divided by cut-throat battles, factionalism and internal strife characterised by ugly scenes of violence and expulsions.

Jostling for top positions within the fractious MDC-T hit fever pitch before the main elections yesterday as senior officials engaged in wrangles, backbiting and vicious infighting to secure positions.

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The congress was preceded by violence and intimidation, which forced the national executive to resolve to expel the perpetrators.

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Tsvangirai told delegates that the architects of brutality and violence were known and would be expelled.

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“We know those people causing violence. We have records and pictures which show people who were causing problems. As MDC, we don’t tolerate violence. We know there are some party leaders who were sponsoring this violence, and they also face expulsion, as they will be investigated thoroughly,” he said.

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The congress, which ended yesterday and is held every five years, was widely seen as a democratic test for the MDC-T and Tsvangirai. It was also viewed as a barometer of the party’s preparedness for national elections and its ability to effectively lead the country.

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Tsvangirai was the only official who retained his position unopposed. Roy Bennett, the treasurer, was initially opposed, although Elton Mangoma and Sekai Holland later withdrew from the race to fight it out as his deputy.

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Other senior officials survived, but not before their feathers were ruffled by rivals. As the contests intensified, party officials went for broke, throwing regionalism and tribalism into the mix.

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The fight for chairmanship between Lovemore Moyo and Lucia Matibenga degenerated into a tribal battle.

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The fierce infighting and dirty politics has left the party badly fractured and with deep internal divisions which need to heal before the elections.