HARARE (Reuters) – A faction in Zimbabwe’s main opposition movement said yesterday it had suspended party leader Morgan Tsvangirai for “fascist” tendencies and failing to oust veteran President Robert Mugabe, deepening divisions in the opposition ranks.
The group led by Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accused Tsvangirai and his lieutenants of resisting a leadership change after losing a third general election to Mugabe last July and of using violence against internal challengers. The turmoil among his political rivals is a gift to the 90-year-old Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 despite frequent Western criticism over human rights and accusations of economic mismanagement.
In a statement after a day-long meeting, Biti’s faction said Tsvangirai and his deputy Thokozani Khupe had been suspended for deviating from democracy and failing to effectively tackle Mugabe.
“The MDC as we know it has abandoned its original founding values and principles,” it said. “The party has been hijacked by a dangerous fascist clique bent on destroying the same and totally working against the working people of Zimbabwe.”
Tsvangirai’s faction immediately dismissed the move as unconstitutional and meaningless.
“The MDC leadership cannot be changed by a bunch of desperate power-hungry officials, a minority that cannot win a leadership contest at party congress,” national party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told reporters.