The move, which has widely been viewed as part of the deep internal conflict within the MDC-T, sparked intense debate with many questioning the timing of the changes. Our Features Editor Lovemore Chikova explores various reasons that could have led to this course of action, which is reportedly a purge of a clique angling for the ouster of Mr Tsvangirai at the party’s congress next year.
Engineer Elias Mudzuri — “The second most popularly elected man”
His fallout with Mr Tsvangirai is well documented.For a long time, the former Harare mayor has been on the party “hit-list”, as he was accused of being the front-runner of a faction seeking to topple the MDC-T leader.Indications are Mr Tsvangirai has been on his case since 2003. The differences between the two could be equated to the two proverbial bulls sharing the same pen. A founding member of the party, Mr Mudzuri commands a decent measure of support across the MDC-T structures.He burst into Parliament after the 2000 general election and was among the most prominent opposition legislators.He was one of the powerful members who could challenge the party leader on questionable decisions he would have taken.Not many dared.
It seemed their allegiance was with Mr Tsvangirai mainly because his power of appointment hung over their heads like the sword of Damocles. But not so with the engineer. He was his own man. He depended on no one to leverage his political standing.Mr Tsvangirai seemed only too aware of this.
Mr Mudzuri was getting too confident for comfort and his wings had to be clipped.But 2003 did not provide the perfect timing.The party was relatively in its infancy and the general belief was the “nominal friction” between the two party strongmen was only but a teething problem.After bandaging the power-struggle, clear highlights of things to come were captured in 2003 after Eng Mudzuri was dethroned at Town House.
“I am the second most popularly elected person in Zimbabwe after (President) Mugabe,” he declared.
This statement must have pierced the MDC-T leader’s nerves.Though veiled, it carried a lot of political gunpowder.It was a direct message to Mr Tsvangirai that he was far from being popular after his drubbing in the 2002 Presidential election.At the same time, Eng Mudzuri was endorsing President Mugabe’s overwhelming victory, which was a point of MDC-T contestation at the time.How dare you go against the grain of the party, Elias?Mr Tsvangirai must have been livid.All this took place in the face of interesting statistics, which showed President Mugabe’s 1 685 212 votes, which accounted for 56, 2 percent of the vote.
Mr Mudzuri won the race for Harare with 262 275 votes. It came as no surprise that Eng Mudzuri was among the four MDC-T ministers placed under investigation on corruption charges in January this year.It was clear, analysts say, the probe sought to oust the engineer, who is reputed for his verbal barbs.He might have ducked the first punch, but certainly not the second, which came in the mould of an uppercut in last week’s dramatic reshuffle.Eng Mudzuri was dropped from his post of Energy and Power Development Minister. Interestingly, he still fired a veiled warning at Mr Tsvangirai that the people would judge him. He said this even as he hit the canvas.
Mr Mhashu’s poor record of political judgment is well known. One such blunder came to the fore in 2001 when he told the BBC that his party would return land back to former white commercial farmers if it assumed power.The statement was widely publicised.It had dire consequences for the MDC as it came at a time the West was passionately demonising Zimbabwe over the land reform programme.Mr Mhashu also embarrassed his party when he sneaked into South Africa without Cabinet authority last year and did not follow protocol while in that country.As a result, he was robbed of R5 000, a mobile phone, a wristwatch and business cards.The South Africans were evidently not happy that he visited their country without seeking security as per procedure.But his major fallout with Mr Tsvangirai must have come in October last year when he attended a housing conference at a time his party was “boycotting” Cabinet.Mr Tsvangirai was incensed.Insiders say it was from that point that the MDC-T leader set in motion plans to show Mr Mhashu the door.
Perhaps the most outstanding victim of the purge, Mr Mutsekwa was seen as representing the Rhodesian element in the MDC-T because of his strong background as a former member of the rogue Rhodesian army.When he was appointed co-Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Tsvangirai uttered something to the effect that he was an experienced person for that ministry.But soon there was a fallout between the two.Mr Mutsekwa was accused of working with Zanu-PF in administering laws dealing with public violence and protests.Yet his defence was that his hands were tied because the law was clear on how to handle such matters.Soon, Mr Mutsekwa found himself under investigation for alleged corruption.Party sources say the probe was ordered at the highest level of the party and calculated at casting aspersions on his image.The probe paved way for last week’s reshuffle.Only last month, Mr Mutsekwa was excluded from a key district restructuring programme in his very own Dangamvura-Chikanga constituency.He was widely quoted as denouncing illegal sanctions on several occasions.This was contrary to the stance of the MDC-T.Observers say it is just a matter of time before he loses the new post of Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities.
Murisi Zwizwai — One diamond too many
One could really say the Chiadzwa diamonds have claimed their first victim.Sources say Mr Zwizwai was appointed Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development to specifically ensure the MDC-T position on diamonds prevailed.But he seemed to have swapped his party’s hymn book for some factual “singing”.Shortly after his appointment, he saw reason in efforts to place diamond mining at the centre of the country’s economic revival efforts.He made it clear during a Kimberley Process conference last year that there were no “blood diamonds” in Zimbabwe.No doubt, he openly contradicted the MDC-T position. From then on, he was seen as unsuitable for office in the party.He was also soon placed under investigations on corruption allegations together with Eng Mudzuri and Mr Mutsekwa. His new position of Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Publicity is seen as “giving him a long rope to hang himself”.Others say he has been thrown to the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity because with Cde Webster Shamu at the helm and with Cde George Charamba as permanent secretary, Mr Zwizwai won’t find the room to play any games.
Thamsanqa Mahlangu — Of cellphones and two women
The dismissal of Mr Mahlangu from the post of Deputy Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment did not come as a surprise to many.Mr Mahlangu had already embarrassed both himself and his party when it emerged during his trial on allegations of stealing a mobile phone that he had spent a night with two women in a hotel room.Though he was eventually acquitted, the theft allegations are said to have endorsed his candidature for dismissal.Mr Mahlangu could have also paid for failing to grasp the finer details of the country’s indigenisation laws.It is understood he was expected to take a lead in opposing the indigenisation laws that are meant to empower locals.So ruthless was Mr Tsvangirai that he fired Mr Mahlangu despite the fact that the poor chap had not even buried his mother. Some people in Matabeleland are baying for Tsvangirai’s blood.
Observers say his removal from the Prime Minister’s Office was largely influenced by his penchant for picking arguments that he could not win.He tried to protect Mr Tsvangirai at all costs, but analysts believe that his outbursts ended up irritating his leader.The latest stunt was misleading the nation that a bilateral agreement Mr Tsvangirai signed in South Korea was binding.As an advisor to the Prime Minister, Mr Moyo was expected to research on issues surrounding the signing of such country-to-country agreements and advise his boss accordingly.Coming from a civil society organisation, Bulawayo Agenda, it could be fair to suggest that Mr Moyo failed to distinguish between Government business and running an NGO that is not accountable to the electorate.
When she was appointed Minister of Public Works, many contended that it was because her husband, Ian, is a close friend of Mr Tsvangirai’s.Actually, Mr Tsvangirai has always taken sides with Mrs Makone. When there was a power struggle within the MDC-T Women’s Assembly, he was seen to throw his weight behind Mrs Makone.With Mr Tsvangirai’s support, Mrs Makone went on to unilaterally take up the post.
This was despite other senior party members insisting that proper procedures should be followed. MDC-T insiders say madam Makone can be what she wants because of her husband’s closeness to Mr Tsvangirai.
She was initially not on the original list of MDC-T ministers.Her name seemed to have come as an after-thought and after inquiries on why she had been left out.Ms Masaiti soon found herself in trouble. She was dragged to court for allegedly abusing Government subsidised inputs.
Finally rewarded for his loyalty to Mr Tsvangirai, Mr Mashakada was increasingly being seen as a checkmate to the alleged plot by Finance Minister Tendai Biti to challenge the MDC-T leader.As the deputy secretary-general, Mr Mashakada seemed to have usurped Mr Biti’s powers as secretary-general of the party.Recently, Mr Tsvangirai was reported to have entrusted Mr Mashakada with the party’s day-to-day affairs.The new Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion would write and sign letters of dismissal and suspension to those seen as crossing Mr Tsvangirai’s path.
Obert Gutu and Tongai Matutu
Their elevation to the Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs and of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, respectively, did not come as a surprise.The two were increasingly vocal in their support for Mr Tsvangirai.Observers say Mr Gutu finally got rewarded for singing praises to the MDC-T leader in his long and boring newspaper articles.On the other hand, Mr Matutu gained the unenviable tag of making unnecessary interjections in Parliament.Observers say he proved that there are indeed many tickets to high office.