MDC-T returnee Job Sikhala’s bid to land a seat in the party’s highest decision-making body, the national standing committee, suffered a heavy knock over the weekend after he was disqualified for not serving the mandatory five consecutive years.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told NewsDay that Sikhala was disqualified for failing to meet the set criteria.
“There is a template which says that for a person to contest they must have been in the party for five years. After considering special cases surrounding Sikhala’s issue, it was decided he was to be part of the national executive, but not the standing committee. ln our view it was a fair compromise,” Mwonzora said.
The party’s national executive members who decided Sikhala’s fate said the combative former St Mary’s MP had also been “purged” for supporting a faction aligned to MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe.
Khupe’s rival and national party chairman Lovemore Moyo is reported to have moved the motion to disqualify the former MDC99 leader despite his nomination by five MDC-T provinces.
Sources said Moyo’s motion was supported by Henry Madzorera and Morgan Femai.
But a source who attended the meeting said Sikhala became a victim of factional fights.
Sikhala was one of the founder members of the MDC before he quit in 2005 to form MDC99 after attempts to introduce leadership renewal hit a brick wall.
Writing on his Facebook page wall yesterday, Sikhala said it was sad to be betrayed by “people you thought were friends”.
In a related development, MDC-T has suspended its Makokoba Senator Matson Hlalo, pending dismissal for alleged use of vulgar language, violent behaviour and disrupting meetings.
Hlalo’s suspension on Saturday, by the MDC-T’s national executive, came a day after the High Court ruled in his favour in a case where he was challenging the election of Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda as provincial chairperson.
He took MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, party chairman Moyo and Banda to the High Court, demanding a re-run of the provincial elections, citing irregularities that he said were deliberately skewed to tilt votes against him.
MDC-T deputy organising secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, however, said Hlalo’s suspension was not linked to the court case, but for a previous pending case of violent behaviour.
Hlalo was not available for comment yesterday, but his election agent, Swithern Chirowodza said the Makokoba senator has not yet received official communication regarding his suspension.