The split of the Movement for Democratic Change over participation in senate elections took a nastier turn when the faction led by secretary-general Welshman Ncube filed an application with the court barring party leader Morgan Tsvangirai from continuing to speak for the party.
Even the United States embassy commented that though Tsvangirai continued to hold the upper hand in the intra-party battle with both the party’s grassroots and its structures firmly on his side, Ncube and the rebels could very well succeed in gaining control of the party name and assets through the courts.
But the embassy added that the manoeuvres were likely to paralyse the party.
Viewing cable 05HARARE1620, MDC Split Gets Nastier
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001620
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/2015
SUBJECT: MDC Split Gets Nastier
Ref: HARARE 001608
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Eric T Schultz under
Section 1.4 b/d
¶1. (C) With the campaign for and against the Senate behind them,
the two rival MDC factions have begun the battle for control
over the party’s institutions and assets. The Ncube faction
drafted a legal application on November 28 seeking to bar party
president Morgan Tsvangirai from speaking for the party, in line
with his supposed “suspension” from the party (reftel).
Tsvangirai in return called a National Council meeting for
December 1, during which 57 of the 66 Council members decided
the party should “disassociate itself” from the leaders of the
rival faction. Although Tsvangirai has clearly won the backing
of the bulk of the party, Ncube and his allies appear determined
to carry the fight to friendlier ground – the GOZ-dominated
courts, which regardless of the merits, may very well side with
the rebels in an effort to further hamstring the opposition.
Ncube Faction Turns to Courts
¶2. (C) Apparently attempting to enforce a letter from party
Vice President Gibson Sibanda as head of the party’s
Disciplinary Committee purporting to suspend Tsvangirai from the
party, the pro-election faction drafted an urgent court
application at the beginning of the week seeking to bar the
party president from speaking publicly. According to a report
in the independent press, the application was spearheaded by a
“parallel” MDC secretariat that the rebels had set up in
Bulawayo. MDC MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who has
publicly sympathized with the rebels, told us on December 2 that
the application, which was drafted by Harare MP Trudy Stevenson,
was only submitted to the High Court on December 1, after
apparent difficulty finding a willing lawyer. (N.B. Ncube is
likely barred from personally submitting the application for
conflict of reason interests.)
¶3. (C) Getting wind of the court move, Tsvangirai moved forward
a National Council meeting scheduled for December 3 to December
1 to preempt the possibility of a court ruling siding with the
Ncube faction. Attended by 57 of the body’s 66 members, the
Council, which according to the MDC constitution supercedes the
Disciplinary Committee, adopted by consensus a resolution (e-
mailed to AF/S) overturning Tsvangirai’s suspension on appeal.
¶4. (C) The resolution further stated that the Council, acting
on behalf of the party, had decided to “disassociate itself”
from Sibanda, Ncube, Deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire,
Treasurer General Fletcher Dulini Ncube, Secretary for
Information Paul Themba Nyathi, and Secretary for Policy and
Research Stevenson, all of whom were suspended from their
leadership positions. Harare MP and national youth chairman
Nelson Chamisa was named Nyathi’s replacement and National
Chairman Isaac Matongo – who briefly sided with Ncube et al
before finally aligning himself with the president – became
acting secretary general and treasurer general until the party
Congress names a permanent replacement.
¶5. (C) The Council also moved to assert its control of the
party’s assets and financial statements, many of which are under
the control of the Ncube faction. The resolution established
that only Tsvangirai and the Chairpersons of the Party, the
Women’s Assembly, and the Youth Assembly were authorized
signatories for party transactions. Treasurer General Dulini
Ncube was ordered to turn over the party’s financial statements.
¶6. (C) Tsvangirai continues to hold the upper hand in the
intra-party battle with both the party’s grassroots and its
structures firmly on his side. Moreover, MDC supporters as a
whole are likely to read the Ncube faction’s appeal to the
ruling party-manipulated courts as a sign of desperation and as
an act that is well beyond the pale for opposition politicians.
That said, Ncube and the rebels could very well succeed in
gaining control of the party name and assets through the courts.
And, in the interval, their legal maneuvers are likely to
paralyze the party vis- vis the government until at least the
MDC Party Congress in February, and possibly beyond.