MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai has reportedly restructured the party ahead of congress, excluding senior members who have called for his resignation from the party’s hierarchy.
This comes as Mr Tsvangirai’s closest ally in the region, Botswana president Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, has asked him to step down.
Lt-Gen Khama is believed to have funded MDC-T during last year’s harmonised elections that were resoundingly won by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
Diplomatic sources said Lt-Gen Khama phoned Mr Tsvangirai soon after the assault on MDC-T deputy treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma and secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti by youths at Harvest House in his presence.
“President Khama phoned Mr Tsvangirai soon after the Harvest House violence and advised him to step down.
“He made it clear to him that while they supported the MDC-T, it was time for him to hand over the party leadership to someone else.
“He said they would not support the party if he remained at its helm against the people’s will,” a diplomatic source said.
“Mr Tsvangirai played down events in MDC-T, describing them as internal and minor. He said the people still wanted him to lead the party.”
Efforts to get a comment from the Botswana government were fruitless yesterday with its embassy in Harare saying it does not have
an ambassador as yet.
“We do not have an ambassador as yet. We have a deputy ambassador, but he has gone for a meeting,” said an embassy official.
Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Mr Luke Tamborinyoka denied his boss had talked to his Botswana ally.
“There was never any such phone call. Tsvangirai never talked to Khama last week,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai has refused to step down from the MDC-T leadership, saying only congress could remove him from power.
Mr Mangoma, self-exiled treasury-general Roy Bennett and Ian Kay are among senior MDC-T officials who have openly told Mr Tsvangirai to resign without success.
Those calling for Mr Tsvangirai to step down have been targeted for assault by youths aligned to the MDC-T leader and are now referred to as “rebels”.
The Herald is reliably informed that Mr Tsvangirai has since come up with a new MDC-T leadership structure which is circulating among his confidantes. This comes amid indications the camp is toying with an idea of having an early congress. Congress is slated
In the new structure, he retains the party presidency deputised by Ms Thokozani Khupe.
Mr Lovemore Moyo remains national chairman, Mr Nelson Chamisa takes over from Mr Tendai Biti as secretary-general, Mr Obert Gutu becomes the new treasurer-general while Mr Abednigo Bhebhe becomes organising-secretary.
Tracy Mutinhiri assumes the Women’s Assembly chairpersonship with Mr Luke Tamborinyoka taking over from Mr Douglas Mwonzora as secretary for information and publicity.
“On that one, that is a party matter I am not best placed to comment. Talk to Mwonzora,” he said.
Mr Mwonzora said he was in a meeting.
Meanwhile, Western embassies in Harare have dumped MDC-T and have been secretly meeting other opposition leaders with the view to forming a coalition of opposition parties to challenge Zanu-PF in 2018.
British ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Deborah Bronnert has been the busiest of the Western envoys meeting prominent opposition leaders and political activists in and outside Harare and selling the idea of forming an alternative political party to MDC-T.
The UK embassy yesterday refused to comment on the matter.
“It is not a matter for us to comment,” said a UK embassy Press officer only identified as Gillia