MDC splits widen after senate vote
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai -- who supports a boycott -- stormed out of a national council meeting after the pro-senate vote won the day by 33 to 31 votes. There were two spoilt votes.
He later addressed journalists at his home, saying the council had been "split 50:50" and he had used his executive powers and cast the deciding vote in rejection of participating in the elections.
Flanked by two top party officials, Fidelis Mhashu and Tapiwa Mashakada, Tsvangira told reporters: "The council resolved to stay out of the Zanu PF senate project."
The story was immediately sent around the world, and carried by the British Broadcasting Corporation among other media organisations.
A few hours later, the MDC information department headed by Paul Themba Nyathi released a statement countering Tsvangirai's claims.
The statement, signed by Nyathi, said: "After five hours of deliberations the MDC National Council being the supreme organ of the party between congresses resolved to take secret ballot of all its members present including the six members of the management committee in the resultant vote of 33 councilors in favour of participation while 31 voted against with 2 ballot papers deemed to have been spoilt.
"In these circumstances the National Council of the MDC resolved by a majority that the party would contest the senatorial election scheduled for 26 November 2005."
The MDC divisions were sweet music to the ruling Zanu PF, with party spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira saying Tsvangirai's stance was confirmation that the party now realised that "if they fight the senatorial elections they will lose dismally."
"Their support has been dropping steadily over the past five years," crowed Shamuyarira. "The party has been rejected by the people and the MDC leadership has realised that."
Chris Gwatidzo, a political commentator with the Midlands State University told the Daily Mirror: "What it means by over-riding a decision of the majority is that he disregards the democratic process of elections. If he can do so whilst in the party, what more if he wins the presidency if ever he does at all?
"If he refuses to lose, it tells us something about why he has refused to accept defeat in all the elections held since 2000."
Sources told New Zimbabwe.com that all the Matabeleland provinces, Bulawayo, Manicaland and the Midlands had voted for participation in the elections, arguing that constituencies with MDC MPs could not have Zanu PF senators. Harare province, Chitungwiza, the three Mashonaland provinces, Masvingo and the youth wing all voted for a boycott of the election.
Senior party officials from both sides expressed dissatisfaction with Tsvangirai's "dictatorial stance", with one official saying: "Tsvangirai will never fully recover from this."
Sources said Tsvangirai had been poorly advised when he accepted the vote in the first place.
"I was against participation," said one councilor. "However, once we had committed ourselves to the vote, I thought everyone at that stage accepted that the outcome would be binding, as it should, but it appears Tsvangirai had other ideas."
Sources said senior members of the MDC's national executive would meet Tsvangirai for 'clear-the-air talks' on Thursday morning. It is expected a statement will be issued after the talks spelling out the party's common position and limiting the damage to the party's reputation.
Professor Welshman Ncube, who denies any presidential ambitions, was said to be "bitterly disappointed."
"This is yet
another blunder to add to his catalogue of errors. From appearing in
public receiving cheques from whites, calling for a 'final push' right
through to the Ari Ben Menashe blunder, some people have been working
tirelessly to clean up after Tsvangirai and after today, many will stop
defending him and leave him exposed," said another official.
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