A FIERCE fight has reportedly erupted between MDC Renewal Team interim secretary-general Tendai Biti and treasurer-general Elton Mangoma over control of the party with sources saying the two politicians nearly exchanged blows last Thursday during a national working committee meeting in Harare.
The meeting, party sources said, later resolved to hold an early national elective congress to end the simmering factional fights.
The opposition party has been under the caretaker leadership of its guardian council headed by chairperson Sekai Holland since last year when its leaders broke ranks with the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T.
However, the membership still believes that the de facto leaders were Biti and Mangoma.
The leadership fights allegedly intensified with the expulsion of Biti and 20 others from Parliament a fortnight ago and members now view this as an opportunity to deal with the leadership question decisively.
“The fight between Biti and Mangoma for leadership came again under the spotlight at Thursday’s meeting where some Biti allies accused Mangoma of campaigning for the presidency ahead of the congress to the detriment of the party,” an insider said.
“It was then agreed that a congress should be held soon, between end of June and early October this year, to out to bring to finality the question of leadership.”
Biti and Mangoma could not be reached for comment yesterday.
MDC Renewal Team spokesman Jacob Mafume yesterday confirmed plans for an early congress.
“We agreed that we should have our ow congress and policy conference as soon as possible so that we have substantive leadership,” Mafume said.
He, however, said the congress was not being held to end the hostilities between Biti and Mangoma.
“This is not about political contestation, but most of the leadership today is made up of people in acting capacities except Biti, Mangoma and Solomon Madzore. The scenario affects execution of programmes especially to those who are in acting capacity,” he added.
But another insider said the leadership question was bordering on who can give the party greater traction as the country moves towards the 2018 elections.
“Most in the party think Biti will give them traction because he is more popular and has more gravitas than Mangoma. However, Mangoma has done a lot of groundwork thereby having more supporters on the grassroots thus setting a stage for a bruising fight,” the source said.
Mafume said the meeting also endorsed the court challenge to the recall of its MPs from Parliament and reiterated the party’s position to continue boycotting future elections until electoral reforms have been implemented.