MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s direct involvement in accrediting delegates to attend the party’s congress this month, triggered violence in Manicaland on Sunday as participants felt he was targeting people perceived to be aligned to the Renewal Team fronted by Mr Tendai Biti.
Police had to be called in in Mutare during the party’s provincial congress that saw spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora receive his second nomination to the post of secretary general.
His rival, Mr Nelson Chamisa, has already bagged 10 provinces.
Sources close to the process said delegates were riled by the direct involvement of Mr Tsvangirai in the accreditation of delegates, something that triggered violence.
“Mr Tsvangirai ended up performing secretarial duties like accrediting delegates. This is unheard of although it is not the first time he has reduced himself to a member of the secretariat department,” said a source.
Mr Mwonzora admitted that there were disturbances during the restructuring exercise but blamed it on hooligans.
“A group of hooligans came and tried to disturb our meeting. They were not even delegates. Police were called and they were dispersed,” said Mr Mwonzora.
He denied that Mr Tsvangirai was involved in the accreditation of delegates but said the opposition leader only intervened in cases of disagreements.
“That is not true. He was just supervising and he would only be involved when there was a dispute. It is not true that the process targeted individuals,” he said.
This was the second time that the former Prime Minister has reduced himself to a mere member of the party’s secretariat after the Bulawayo polls turned chaotic recently.
Sources said some sitting party provincial executive members in Manicaland, who have in the past been suspected to be part of the renewal team, failed to retain their seats in which former legislator, Mr David Chimhini, was elected provincial chairperson.
The restructuring exercise was characterised by allegations of vote rigging as delegates from Buhera were disqualified while there was a dispute on the composition of delegates from Chikanga.
The dispute from Chikanga stemmed from two distinct voters rolls; one from sitting legislator Mr Regai Tsunga, and one from those aligned to the party’s official candidate in the July 31 2013 harmonised election Mr Giles Mutseyekwa.
Manicaland becomes the third province where complaints of purging those aligned to the renewal team have been raised.
In Chitungwiza and Mashonaland Central, Mr Tsvangirai came under fire for allegedly “rigging” provincial restructuring processes in his bid to elbow out some executive members that he felt had links with the Renewal team.
Some provincial executives alleged that Mr Tsvangirai and the party’s organising department led by Mr Nelson Chamisa, flouted the party’s agreed template that sitting chairpersons or executive members were to be subjected to a confirmation exercise first before an election could be held.
In terms of the agreed procedure, a sitting executive should secure one third of the total number of voters present to avoid an election.
The opposition party’s Mashonaland Central chairperson, Mr Godfrey Chimombe, fell out over his links with former deputy treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma while Chitungwiza outgoing provincial — chairman Mr Alexio Musundire — was linked to former secretary general Mr Tendai Biti and has over the past been accused of being of a violent disposition.
“Before the election for Chitungwiza Mr Tsvangirai told delegates that if you vote for people who are violent he will disqualify the result.
“This was interpreted to mean that clearly he referred to Musundire. There has also been talk that urayai rovambira nemwana wayo nekuti mukasiya mwana wayo anokurumai mangwana. This is in reference to the perceived remnants of the renewal team in the party,” said the source.
Mr Chamisa said while the confirmation exercise was an agreed template provincial congresses had the right to decide that people could go for an open election.
“The provincial congress had the right to call for an open election. Either way there is no prejudice suffered. People should not run away from democracy,” said Mr Chamisa.
MDC-T has been restructuring its provinces ahead of its elective congress set for the end of this month.