By Mxolisi Ncube, Editor
JOHANNESBURG – As I promised yesterday, I am now responding to accusations of “misrepresentation” of the state of affairs within the South African province of the MDC, made Wednesday by the party’s publicity secretary, Sibanengi Dube.
For those readers who are not familiar with the two earlier articles, they are both included elsewhere on this website.
My earlier article was posted on the website on August 17, 2009, while Dube’s was posted yesterday and is still on the pages. The earlier article can also be accessed through a link that is below Dube’s response.
In his response, Dube accuses me of having “generously accorded hectares of space to mysterious, anonymous and faceless sources to spew all kinds of profanities at the current provincial leadership of MDC in SA”, in what he says depicted him, Austin Moyo (chairman) and Rodgers Mudarikwa (organising secretary) as the ‘bad guys’ who are clinging to power against the wishes of the electorate.
He also accuses me of not having given them the chance to respond, yet adding underneath that I ignored his responses “to questions you e-mailed me on 21 August and rushed to vilify us”.
As I have said above, my article appeared on this website on August 17, after I had vainly tried to contact Dube and Moyo, who both did not take my calls.
Both Dube and Moyo have my phone numbers and how would I know if they were deliberately ignoring my calls, as their phones were ringing?
We are a news website that does not operate in a vacuum. We have competitors and anything newsworthy about the MDC - a front-runner in the race to replace ZANU (PF) in charge of the country, is perishable and needs to be treated with the urgency it deserves.
I had obtained the information from trusted and internal party sources and that to me was a story because the fact those executive members said such things about a party they are still serving means that there is indeed infighting, and that they are a part of it.
I still put a line underneath the story on what Dube has previously said about his executive.
Also, the best way to get a response from them was to publish the article, which has worked and jerked Dube off his seat to give a response.
Nonetheless, knowing that our readers needed to get the other side of the story, I still made another effort and wrote an email to Dube on August 21, as he rightly stated, to which he responded four days later, and if there had been more allegations, I would have published another story already by then.
In his earlier response, Dube said, “I am not aware of any discontentment by MDC districts in Pretoria and Johannesburg.
Our Johannesburg Chairman Jimmy Mhlanga never raised any discontent with us. We met over the weekend for a social gathering to entertain some of our national leaders who were in Jo'burg over the weekend”.
But he gave a hint, when he said, “Instead what Mhlanga tells me is that there are individuals in VAA, masquerading as MDC leaders who were giving him problems. Mhlanga's Deputy Tobias Maposa, Chairman of the district Disciplinary Committee is actually taking some disciplinary measures against these individuals. These elements even attempted to sabotage the MDC rally which was addressed by President Morgan Tsvangirai by issuing two wrong different venues.”
Is this alone not an inadvertent admission by Dube that there is indeed infighting within the party, on MDC VAA lines?
Whether these so-called problematic members are also members of the MDC VAA, Dube’s response says that they are also MDC members for, how can you discipline someone that belongs to another organization outside your own?
In short, if they are in the process of being disciplined, these people are MDC and Dube knows about their discontentment, which they have showed by “giving Mhlanga some problems”.
Also these members’ “attempts to sabotage the MDC rally”, addressed by the President of the party, who is also a Prime Minister of the country, also shows that the divisions are even deeper than I had earlier thought.
Dube added, “I am not sure about the MDC Pretoria structure you are talking about because we don't have a district structure in Pretoria.
“What apparently happened is that our elected structure in Pretoria defected to VAA, an organisation which is not recognised by MDC and whose objectives are at variance with us.
“MDC SG Tendai Biti wrote us a letter, directing the provincial leadership to distance them from VAA. We have a lot of members in Pretoria. The Organising Department is busy building branches in Pretoria in preparation for a congress to elect a Pretoria district leadership.”
For reasons known to himself and other members of his executive, Dube now seems to have a tendency of blaming his party’s internal squabbles on the MDC VAA, a mostly humanitarian organisation formed by the party’s founding activists last year, whose launch he and Moyo also attended and gave blessings to, but as I promised yesterday, I will touch on the MDC VAA issue at length later.
My sources tell me that there is “no MDC district structure” in Pretoria because Moyo’s executive tried to dismantle the existing one, which was the first to call for a provincial election, after accusing the current provincial executive of having staged “a coup” and clinging onto power afterwards.
Dube says that his executive was voted into office by nine districts at the Mayfair Conference in Johannesburg last year.
“Johannesburg District was represented by Austin Moyo, who was subsequently elected the Provincial Chairman. Pretoria District was represented by Lovemore Chikandiwa who solely opposed the decision of the other eight Chairmen. He then resigned from his District Chairman position and defected to VAA alongside with other members of his executive,” says Dube.
Again I am forced to ask? Are defections by the whole district leadership not enough a sign of discontentment?
Members of the MDC Pretoria district executive, who include Lovemore Kodzi and Lovemore Chikandiwa, have previously accused the provincial executive of trying to establish district structures in Mamelodi, Pretoria about two months ago, in an alleged bid to fill the districts with “their puppets” so that they cling onto power.
Dube goes on to say that his executive should have installed a new executive in Pretoria long back “but our efforts were thwarted by our former Organising Secretary Philemon Moyo who surprisingly preferred to raise the flag of VAA at the expense of MDC.”
He does not explain how one man can thwart efforts of a “united leadership” if he is not having the support of other executive members, who also share the same goal, but speaks of a “venomous conflict of interest”, which led to the confrontation, punch-ups during meetings and the alleged subsequent suspension of Moyo – Division.
“So where is the division within MDC in SA Mr Editor? Are you still confusing VAA activists with MDC?” Dube asks me.
Now, another confirmation of divisions is available in an internal memo written by Dube himself on August 14, this year.
The memo, which is addressed to – “National Chairman”, but only sent to firstname.lastname@example.org – Mudarikwa, William Mabona (MDC SA), Kunaka Nhira (MDC SA), Austine Moyo (MDC SA) and email@example.com (MDC SA), talks about the MD VAA and Moyo’s suspension.
In part Dube says, “We should not lose sight of the fact that such a scenario (attacks during meetings) happened here. Our members shot each other in cold-blood murders. The party took no action against members involved.”
He goes on to accuse a member of the party of having been implicated and gone to jail for six months.
Dube adds that the “talk of another congress in SA” is a VAA agenda.
“We were elected at Mayfair by a Provincial Conference after the Bloemfontein Congress produced a premature executive which never took off from the ground. How it works is that a Conference can do gap-filling where there are vacancies. We exactly did this with the guidance and blessing of the National Chairman.
“National Chairman Lovemore Moyo never ordered us to prepare for a congress in three months. He instead asked for the minutes of the Provincial Conference to be submitted to his office just for the record. This is a constitutional exercise in MDC.
“If ever National Chairman Moyo wants us to have a congress, he will definitely not instruct us through VAA structures or district leaders but will write a letter straight to the Provincial leadership. Such rumours mushrooming through back-doors will always be treated as gossip.”
Today, I wrote to Moyo through his press secretary, Freedom Mazwi, asking him on whether he knew of the MDC SA infighting, what Moyo as National chairman was doing about it, and if the current structure was substantive.
He had this to say to me, “Yes, Harare is aware of all those issues.”
He went on, “On the 1st of August a meeting was held in JHB, whereupon it was agreed by all Executive members present that there is need to reconfigure South African structure.
“One way to do this as agreed was to call for a Provincial Conference, where the issue of the leadership would be settled.
“As we speak preparations are ongoing. The issue of the Organising Secretary was also discussed at the same meeting, and it was felt proper procedures had not been followed in carrying out this suspension.”
Another MDC VAA machination?
My question to you now Mr Sibanengi Dube is - who is fooling who?