Zvamaida Murwira Harare Bureau
THE MDC-T has embarked on a witch-hunt against party supporters in Bulawayo province following the humiliation of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week when he was forced to abort a provincial meeting after rival factions booed each other in his presence. The in-fighting in the party’s province is part of a grand tussle pitting Tsvangirai and national executive member Nelson Chamisa over the control of party structures across the country.
Tsvangirai and other senior party leaders appeared to recognise Gift Banda as the provincial chairperson of Bulawayo despite the High Court having nullified his election in favour of Senetor Matson Hlalo.
This was after Banda was asked to give a welcome address, ostensibly in his capacity as provincial chairperson. Banda, who is aligned to Tsvangirai, and Sen Hlalo are embroiled in a row over the control of the party’s Bulawayo province.
Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe appeared determined to recognise Banda, something that riled youths loyal to Sen Hlalo. Following the chaotic scenes at Tsvangirai’s meeting, the party is said to have instituted a witch-hunt, which according to sources, was meant to victimise those loyal to Sen Hlalo as part of efforts to weaken the influence of Chamisa.
“Some of the youths have since limited their movement as the victimisation has also turned physical. In some instances threats of violence have been made,” said a source.
“The party leadership in Bulawayo fighting in Banda’s corner did not take lightly the humiliation of Tsvangirai. They’re also trying to build a disciplinary case against some youths as part of efforts to weaken Sen Hlalo’s influence in the province.”
When contacted for comment, party spokesperson Obert Gutu denied reports of a witch-hunt, but said disciplinary measures would be meted out on errant party cadres.
“There’s no witch-hunting taking place against anyone in the MDC,” he said. “Let me make it abundantly clear that Gift Banda is the lawful and legitimate MDC Bulawayo provincial chairperson. MDC cadres are a disciplined lot who believe in respect for authority and solidarity.
“Of course, where there is a deliberate and wilful violation of any of the party’s rules and regulations, disciplinary measures will be taken against any offending party member,” Gutu said.