MDC Renewal leader Tendai Biti yesterday publicly apologised to MDC president Welshman Ncube and members of his party for the personal abuse he heaped on them following the 2005 split in the former labour movement.
Biti apologised in Harare during his speech at the signing ceremony for the reunification agreement of the MDC factions to form a new party United Movement for Democratic Change (UMDC). The parties made a last-minute change of name from Union of Democrats (UD) to UMDC.
Biti said the split in 2005 left them devastated to the extent that they resorted to personal attacks against Ncube and his colleagues who led the split following internal policy differences.
“Time answers all questions and at the time they (Ncube and company) left we did not know neither had we recognised the growing dictatorial tendencies,” Biti said.
“We would want to say we are sorry for what we said then. We called them sellouts and Zanu PF members then.”
Ncube broke away from Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC in 2005, while Biti and other veteran MDC politicians parted company with Tsvangirai earlier this year to form another splinter group, the MDC Renewal Team.
“We have done the first part of the reunification exercises. We have heard speeches from both political parties, so we are just waiting for the signing ceremony now,” former MDC MP Pishai Muchauraya told a Sapa correspondent in Harare.
Some observers are sceptical about the new party’s chances of success. Both President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and Tsvangirai’s main MDC faction are weakened by infighting but still command support.
David Coltart, a member of Ncube’s MDC, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that he was happy to be able to work with old colleagues like Biti and Elton Mangoma, former energy minister in the coalition government that ended last year.
“One of my greatest sadnesses when the (first) MDC split occurred in 2005 was that I had to separate from some of my closest friends,” said Coltart, who was not at the ceremony.
“That split was a gift to tyranny and remains so.”
Pictures tweeted from Wednesday’s reunification ceremony in Harare showed Biti, Holland and Ncube and other officials decked in orange and green – the new party’s official colours.