Thursday, October 20, 2005

SPLIT IN THE MDC DEEPENS


Divisions deepen in Zimbabwe MDC.

The MDC leadership is no longer standing together. New evidence has emerged of a major split within the leadership of Zimbabwe's main opposition party. Movement for Democratic Change vice-president Gibson Sibanda has accused party leader Morgan Tsvangirai of violating the MDC's constitution. The party has been thrown into chaos over the issue of whether to boycott next month's elections for a Senate. Last week the MDC voted narrowly in favour of taking part, but Mr Tsvangirai insisted on a boycott. Mr Sibanda accused Mr Tsvangirai of "wilfully violating the constitution of the MDC" and breaching its code of conduct.

MDC's changing fortunes -
1999: Founded by Morgan Tsvangirai
2000: Wins 57 parliamentary seats
2002: Tsvangirai loses presidential challenge
2003: Mass protests quashed by security forces
2004: Says will not contest 2005 election
2005: Contests election, wins 41 seats

After meeting Mr Tsvangirai on Wednesday, Mr Sibanda rejected suggestions that the party was about to split. "We are still seeking a solution. We never said we were going to split and there are no signs of a split, it is simply that there is some differences in issues and the approach to those issues," Mr Sibanda told the AFP news agency.
MDC supporters say the party will survive, but they acknowledge that it has been seriously weakened, and that it may be time for a change in leadership. Correspondents say there is a strong desire among the southern Ndebele members of the MDC to take part in the senate elections and not hand victory on a plate to Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party. But in the northern Shona-speaking areas of the country, the MDC is less organised and is ill-prepared to contest elections.
Meanwhile, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a coalition of pro-democracy groups, has added its voice to the call for a boycott of the Senate election, calling it "meaningless" and a "waste of time and resources". "The NCA urges ordinary Zimbabweans to refuse to be complicit in Zanu-PF's exploitative grand scheme for diverting national and international attention from the root cause of suffering in Zimbabwe, that is a failed government," NCA spokeswoman Jessie Majome told journalists. Elections were called after a recent constitutional change reintroduced an upper house into parliament. The MDC has argued previous polls were rigged.
Government critics say the change was introduced to strengthen the hold on power of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. The MDC believes violence and fraud have made previous poll results unfair. Zimbabwe has had a single-chamber parliament since 1987, when President Mugabe abolished the Senate. But the government now says the reintroduction of the Senate will boost the authority of parliament. The Senate will comprise 10 traditional chiefs, 50 senators elected on a constituency system and six appointed by the president.

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