ELTON Mangoma will be hauled over the coals by the MDC-T after demanding that party leader Morgan Tsvangirai should step down, officials said last night.
The MDC-T’s 48-member national executive met in Harare yesterday and their deputy treasurer-general’s calls for Tsvangirai to step down dominated the discussions.
Tsvangirai supporters hectored the former Energy Minister as he arrived at the meeting.
The MDC-T leader, say sources, made it clear he would not be stepping down, vowing to lead the party until its elective congress in 2016.
Mangoma told Tsvangirai during a meeting on Thursday last week that “leadership renewal was an inexorable truth that the party will have to confront”, warning that “confidence [in the MDC-T] was plummeting”.
The MDC-T’s crushing defeat by Zanu PF in the July 31 elections last year had left the party in a “state of confusion, consternation and apprehension”, Mangoma said, adding: “The party is grieving from a crisis of leadership legitimacy…”
Ominously, he warned that if Tsvangirai stayed on until the 2016 congress — which will come just two years before the next general elections — the MDC-T would split in a “nasty war of attrition”.
Yesterday, sources said Tsvangirai — backed by his allies including the organising secretary Nelson Chamisa — vowed to stay put, raising the spectre of a second split in the party following the 2005 break-away by a faction led by Professor Welshman Ncube.
Speaking after the meeting, a Tsvangirai supporter told Chronicle: “Everyone who wanted to speak on the matter spoke, and the overwhelming mood was that there’s no leadership vacancy. People must keep their leadership ambitions in check until such a time internal party elections are due.”
The official said Mangoma had been referred to the disciplinary committee for passing notes of his discussion with Tsvangirai to the media.
“Drinking alcohol is not wrong,” said the official, drawing an analogy, “but drinking in church is outright provocative. So we’re saying it’s not wrong to aspire for leadership, it’s how you go about it that becomes an issue. Mangoma will go for disciplinary [hearing].”
But a source leaning towards the Mangoma faction said “a number of people also agreed that following the loss suffered in the July 31 (2013) elections, there was need for self-introspection and reflection on the leadership of the party.”
“Tsvangirai refused to budge saying he was the legitimate leader and threatened that if his opponents do not change their position then another split, like the one that occurred in 2005, was inevitable,” the official added, also declining to be named as party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora was the only one cleared to talk to the media.
Mwonzora would not confirm that Mangoma would face a disciplinary hearing, but was only prepared to say: “That issue was discussed under ‘any other business’… As a party, we don’t suppress our members from expressing their opinions but at the same time we don’t allow them to take their debates to the media.
“In this case the majority said they still have confidence in the leadership of the party and that we will have congress when it is due in 2016.”
Mangoma, who left the meeting amid tight security to jeers from a rented crowd outside, refused to comment.
Mangoma is seen as a Trojan horse for other powerful members of the MDC-T’s top hierarchy, including the secretary general Tendai Biti who is also increasingly despondent over Tsvangirai’s leadership.
The party’s treasurer general Roy Bennett and senior figures like Eddie Cross, Elias Mudzuri and Ian Kay have all voiced calls for leadership renewal, and are believed to have the backing of the MDC-T’s western donors.