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Tsvangirai, Biti move to mend strained relations

Tsvangirai, Biti move to mend strained relations

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Published: 21 May 2014

ZIMBABWE – Efforts to mend relations between opposition MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and party secretary-general Tendai Biti, have reached a decisive stage with indications talks could be concluded this week, The Zimbabwe Mail reported.

A group of the party’s elder statesmen and women, known as the Guardian Council, is “working internally and around the clock” to find a solution and bring cohesion in the opposition party.

Sekai Holland, the Guardian Council’s chairperson, revealed yesterday that her group would be meeting today to deliberate and find a common position towards resolving the impasse.

The council’s secretary general is Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, acting chairperson of the renewal group.

“Mediation efforts have never stopped because these are the same people and they need to find each other. They are like brothers and when they fight, as is in our culture, they are supposed to remember that they are related. We are calling on them to listen to the voice of reason,” Holland said.

“After their 1963 split Zapu and Zanu-PF took 11 years to find each other, but we want that unity this year and now,” she said.

“Zimbabwe needs a cohesive and united MDC and that is very important. I have said this to both sides. Tsvangirai is my brother and we have said to him he needs to act as the father figure for the good of the party and talk to these boys,” she said in apparent reference to a group of hawks in the party led by Biti.

Holland has been linked to the faction fronted by Biti following the national council meeting that suspended Tsvangirai where it was resolved that she would lead the party in the interim. However, Holland declined to comment on the claim.

“You know that Zimbabwean politics is skewed and if you want peace and cohesion one has to keep their mouth shut.”

Renewal team spokesperson Jacob Mafume confirmed efforts have been going on to bring the warring parties to the table.

“The Guardian Council in its various formation and individuals have been mediating on issues within the party. Like any other organ of the party, they are actively engaged in matters of the party. One can never say never in politics and there are underlying issues that need to be resolved such as renewal, usurping of the constitution and violence,” Mafume said.

“The mediation efforts the party requires are reconciliation between the Tsvangirai of old and the one we have today. It is a conflict between the two legacies that should be resolved”.

Douglas Mwonzora spokesperson of the Tsvangirai-led faction confirmed the MDC-T was aware the Guardian Council was organising a meeting.

“The Guardian Council is an organ of the party and we know that they are meeting. However, we await the decision that they are going to make,” said Mwonzora.

The MDC-T has been teetering on the brink of implosion following the party’s humiliating loss to Zanu-PF in the harmonised elections last year.

Senior party leaders then led a chorus of cat-calls for Tsvangirai to step-down and pave way for an elective congress. Matters came to a head early this year when deputy treasurer – general Elton Mangoma penned a stinging letter asking Tsvangirai to take full responsibility for the party’s electoral loss and pass on the leadership baton.

The veteran trade unionist responded by convening a meeting of the party’s 120 political district chairpersons that turned ugly with a violent attack on Mangoma and youth secretary general Promise Mkwananzi while Biti and other leaders escaped the beating by a whisker.

Mangoma accused Tsvangirai of being the instigator-in-chief of the attack before he was suspended. As tempers boiled over, Biti convened a national council meeting on April 26 and resolved to suspend Tsvangirai and six other top leaders. A few days later, Tsvangirai responded by convening his own national council and expelled Biti, Mangoma and others.

Other top leaders who have urged Tsvangirai, in power since the opposition party’s formation 15 years ago to step down include exiled treasurer general Roy Bennett, former Marondera legislator Ian Kay  and former Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri.

Source: Zim Mail