Biti statement on Tsvangirai suspension

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THE MDC-T, the country’s main opposition party is in turmoil and faces a second bitter split after a group advocating leadership renewal met in Harare on Saturday and agreed to suspend party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and a number of those backing him to stay at the helm of the party. Below is the statement by secretary general Tendai Biti explain the decision to suspend the former premier.
MEMBERS of the national executive, councillors herein present, members of the Fourth Estate (the media), members of the diplomatic community.  It is with great humility that I stand before you. It is with great humility that we the councillors that met from 9 o’clock this morning (Saturday) are presenting ourselves to the people of Zimbabwe, to our African brothers and sisters and to the international community, making a point that, we members of this council, the genuine democrats in our party, the people who believe that renewal not just of the MDC but of the entire democratic movement is called for in this country.
We, those who met today, who genuinely believe that the country is in a serious national crisis; a crisis of leadership, a crisis of legitimacy, a social crisis, a moral crisis and an economic crisis, which is calling out for an answer. We have met here to try and address both our internal issues and external issues surrounding our political crisis, economic, social crisis and moral crisis. I want to say that we are very humbled and I think that what has happened today, to us is the ushering in of a new stage, a new advancement in the struggle, a post liberation struggle for the democratisation of Zimbabwe.
We strongly believe as democrats that the first phase of the post-liberation democratisation of Zimbabwe, which we formed and were part of since 1999 to 2013, just like the liberation movement itself has gone sterile, has become exhausted, has become arrested in massive contradictions so the post liberation movement needs renewal and this, what we are doing here represents the first step of the renewal, the re-energisation and the rebuilding and reconstruction of a democratisation struggle in Zimbabwe.
So we have set for hours. We discussed in extensor the problem arresting our party, the Movement for Democratic Change and we came to the following resolutions on the party: that the MDC as we know it has abandoned its original founding values and principles of social democracy, of justice, of equality, of liberty, of transparency, of non-violence, of constitutionalism, and of humble, obedient and servant leadership.Advertisement

In our discussions and resolutions we came to the firm conclusion that the party we call the MDC today is not recognisable from the party that was formed by working people of Zimbabwe on the 11 of September 1999. It is not recognisable from the party that won the 2008 elections. We have come to the conclusion that the party has been hijacked by a dangerous fascist clique bent on destroying the same and totally working against the working people of Zimbabwe.
We have come to the conclusion that the following issues distinguish us, define us. The following issues create a durawall between us and our former friends and colleagues in the old MDC as we knew it:
1. The use of violence.
2. The abuse of power and the patronage system in the party.
3. Use of all forms of intimidation, duress and malice directed against those that have dared to speak their voice for democracy and renewal in the party.
We have seen ladies and gentlemen the assault that took place on Honourable Mangoma on the 15th February 2014. We have seen the dissolution of the entire Matabeleland North province led by chairman Javangwe; we have seen the dissolution of the entire province of Mat South, whose chairman has just addressed you.
We have seen the unlawful suspensions of comrades in Manicaland in particular the chairman, Julius Magarangoma and secretary honourable Gwisai. We have seen massive purges, unconstitutional and unlawful purges in our party in Harare, Mashonaland West, in Mashonaland East, in Chitungwiza and in the youth council.
We draw a line with our former colleagues in the use of parallel structures including the use of vigilantes, kitchen cabinets and other informal means of transacting the business of the democratic party. We draw a line with our colleagues in promoting the culture of malice, rumours and gossip. Some of us we have lived permanently with the tag “ari kuda kubvisa president”. Baseless things which are not promoted in our constitution. We draw a line firmly against the abuse of the constitution. One of the main reasons why the MDC was formed by the working people of Zimbabwe in 1999 was to run away from the culture of Zanu PF, of abusing the constitution, of changing the constitution 17 times each time they lost a case in the Constitutional Court.
We have seen the constitution being abused in the MDC. The suspension, the original suspension of Honourable Mangoma on the 7th of March 2014, was done without the recourse to article 12 of our constitution which makes it clear that the member of the standing committee can only be suspended if a two-thirds majority of members of the National Council vote. The purges that I have been talking about are all unconstitutional. The suspensions that I have been talking about are all unconstitutional. So we the democrats gathered here are making a clear point that we can’t run away from a Zanu PF known for breaching the constitution and then allow the same misdemeanour, the same opinion, the same commissions and omissions to happen in a party that we call ours.
So we are putting a stop and saying a no to the abuse of the constitution in the rule of law in the MDC as we knew it originally. One of the reasons why the MDC was formed originally was to promote free speech, internal democracy and debate in the party.
We believed in the Maoist principle of allowing 100 flowers to bloom and 100 debates to follow. As we have seen in the recent occasions in the party, Honourable Mangoma wrote a letter, a private letter to the president of the party on the 23rd of January 2014. That letter has unleashed chaos in the party, even people who have committed treason and murder will not be treated in the manner that Honourable Mangoma and his colleagues have been treated.
So if we ran away from Zanu PF because it does not promote the values of democracy, of unity and diversion we cannot tolerate the same in the party that we formed, in the party that we have sacrificed all of us, we lost in this struggle the likes of Isaac Matongo, the likes of Learnmore Jongwe, the likes of Tonderayi Ndira, the likes of Patrick Nyamapara. I can assure you that these comrades are turning in their graves because the MDC of now is not the MDC that they left when God took them. So we are drawing a line against that.
We will not allow the same dictatorship of Zanu PF to be around us. In short, comrades and friends and you will see it in our document, the MDC, as we know it now has been Zanufied and we who are here are running away or are putting a stop from the Zanufication of our beloved party.
We are saying no to the incorporation of traits that are in Zanu PF, which we have run away from. And in this regard we re-state our commitment to a de-personalised struggle. One of the challenges of our current party is that it has been personalised and privatised, even the name of the party is someone’s surname, even the party’s symbol is someone’s handsome face, we cannot accept that. We cannot accept that.
So we have come here to make our commitment and our reinstatement to the original values of the party, the values of social democracy. I would like to acknowledge the presence of the secretary of Bulawayo province Honourable Reggie Moyo. So we want to re-affirm the original values of the party, the values of social democracy, the values of transparency, and the values of humble and obedient leadership which are so well defined in Article 3 and Article 4 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
We have also come to the resolution that the dear leader Cde Morgan Tsvangirai can no longer be considered as a democrat or a comrade in this struggle. He is clearly unsuitable and has disqualified himself as a fit and proper patriot with the legitimacy, credibility, ability, decency, or honesty of leading and executing the democratic struggle (applause). We the democrats gathered here no longer recognise him or his associates in the standing committee in any capacity.
We no longer recognise him or them in any capacity. We are, therefore, exercising our constitutional right of freedom of dissociation and we will now pursue our struggle with genuine credible fellow Zimbabweans until real victory over Zanu PF and its dictatorship is achieved and attained in this country. I want to make this very clear. The Constitution, one of the fundamental rights of the constitution is the freedom to association. The MDC is a voluntary association so we the democrats gathered here are exercising our democratic right to freedom of dissociation with the persons I have mentioned.
This is very different from the MDC, we remain members of the MDC but we feel that these people have betrayed the struggle, have brought the party into disrepute, do not have the capacity, the desire and the love of leading and executing the democratic struggle.
The next question that will then immediately arise is what, you are creating a leadership vacuum? And We no longer recognise Tsvangirai: Biti our answer, our resolution is this: we believe that the party must immediately be placed under the control and the curatorship of the party of elders and veterans in the Guardians’ Council who must run the party and prepare for congress, where members should be free to elect new leaders where there should be no violence, no gossip, no illegal or corrupt electoral practices.
We as democrats gathered here, we undertake to build our movement, to deal with the issue of structures, to restore to our movement, the same legitimacy, dignity and respect it has commanded on the African continent in the last 15 years, which in the last few months has been reversed and so we will rebuild our party from the current ashes and dust to the proud organisation it has been before.