Zim opposition risks split

Zim opposition risks split

HARARE – Simmering divisions within Zimbab­we’s main opposition party over whether to contest controversial senate elections broke into the open last week, risking a split in the party that would hand a victory to President Robert Mugabe.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the party which has posed the greatest challenge to Mugabe’s 25 years of uninterrupted rule in the country, appears to have been wrong-footed by a surprise move by the president’s party to create a new legislative chamber. The MDC, which has survived the charging of its leader for treason and intimidation of its activists, could score an own goal by splitting over a relatively minor issue.Reports that the MDC was riven by divisions and a power struggle have appeared recently in both the private and state-controlled media.The splits within the party emerged into the open last week when party leaders issued contradictory statements on whether the MDC would participate in the November 26 elections to the newly-created senate.Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced a boycott, but hours later on Wednesday MDC spokesman Paul Temba Nyathi said the party’s supreme decision-making organ had voted to take part in the elections.Speculation has mounted in the media about a power struggle and policy differences between Tsvangirai and his lieutenants on the one hand and a group led by party secretary general Welshman Ncube on the other.The privately owned Daily Mirror and the Zimbabwe Independent cited unnamed opposition party sources as saying Tsvangirai had said he did not care if the MDC splits over the senate elections.Lovemore Madhuku, a pro-democratic constitutional activist and lawyer, has warned “the party will collapse if neither of the camps gives in”.The MDC, which won nearly half of the contested parliamentary seats in the 2000 elections, eventually decided to contest parliamentary elections earlier this year despite concerns they would not be fair.- Nampa-AFPThe MDC, which has survived the charging of its leader for treason and intimidation of its activists, could score an own goal by splitting over a relatively minor issue.Reports that the MDC was riven by divisions and a power struggle have appeared recently in both the private and state-controlled media.The splits within the party emerged into the open last week when party leaders issued contradictory statements on whether the MDC would participate in the November 26 elections to the newly-created senate.Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced a boycott, but hours later on Wednesday MDC spokesman Paul Temba Nyathi said the party’s supreme decision-making organ had voted to take part in the elections.Speculation has mounted in the media about a power struggle and policy differences between Tsvangirai and his lieutenants on the one hand and a group led by party secretary general Welshman Ncube on the other.The privately owned Daily Mirror and the Zimbabwe Independent cited unnamed opposition party sources as saying Tsvangirai had said he did not care if the MDC splits over the senate elections.Lovemore Madhuku, a pro-democratic constitutional activist and lawyer, has warned “the party will collapse if neither of the camps gives in”.The MDC, which won nearly half of the contested parliamentary seats in the 2000 elections, eventually decided to contest parliamentary elections earlier this year despite concerns they would not be fair.- Nampa-AFP

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